Play Ball!

The World Series resumes tonight where it left off on Monday — with Philadelphia batting at the start of the bottom of the sixth inning and the score tied at 2-2. If the Phillies win, the Series is over. If not, it will return to Tampa, and we could have something memorable on our hands.

The odds favor the Phillies tonight. First, they have an extra half inning in which to bat. Second, both teams presumably will rely on their relief pitchers, and the Phils have a better bullpen. Third, the game is in Philadelphia. But a rain delay in Boston in Game 2 of the 1975 World Series, with Boston up by a game and a run, seemed to turn the tide in favor of Cincinnati. And that delay lasted only half an hour.

If the Series returns to Tampa, Philadelphia, being a game up, will still be favored. But Tampa Bay is very tough at home and the pitching match-ups will slightly favor the Rays. In addition, there are finally signs of life from Tampa Bay sluggers Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria.

This World Series has reminded me both of why I used to love baseball and why I am now just a casual fan. Game 3 had it all — a blown call that probably gifted Tampa Bay two runs; the Phillies and the Rays both scoring key runs without the benefit of a ball hit out of the infield; and the wheels-within-wheels you typically see in a game that’s decided in the bottom of the ninth, especially when there is no designated hitter.

Yet I find it impossible to be head-over-heels for a sport that determines its champion in the kind of conditions that are almost inevitable in late October. I also struggle with the length of the games, particularly given their starting times.

My view hasn’t changed much since 1994 when baseball cancelled its World Series: if baseball can’t show more respect for its product, why should I?

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