Tonight we will get the stuff that every little boy has dreamed of, GAME 7 of the World Series. Come on, admit it, you have at one time in your life dreamed of being the hero of Game 7 of the World Series. In your backyard as a nine-year old with a wiffle ball bat in your hand, you stood there and called your shot. You probably did your own play by play “Rich is standing at the plate Game 7 of the World Series Bottom of the 9th bases loaded down by three runs full count here is the pitch CRACKKKKKK its a high fly ball into deep left field, this one has a chance its GONEEEEEEE !!!!! A grand slam for Rich, the crowd is going wild! He has done it, Rich has won the WORLD SERIES!!!!”
I was talking to my dad this morning and he is pacing already waiting for Game 7. He told me how nervous he is for the game tonight. If you are a Giants fan you have to be nervous. You have won 2 of the last four championships, yet you haven’t been here before. If you are a Royals fan you have to feel good with the beat down last night, but you have not won for 29 years. You have two mortal pitchers going tonight. Guthrie for the Royals and Hudson for San Francisco. Both will be on short leashes and the first time get in trouble they will get the hook. Tonight its all hands on deck, there is no tomorrow, you win or lose the championship tonight. Thats why Game 7 is so special. You have battled to tie the first six games and are tied three to three. Both teams have hope, and are on pins and needles. You are so close to being immortal if you make the big play tonight and if you don’t your name will be Mudd until the end of time. So why wouldn’t you be nervous, right?
Back in 2008 the Rays were poised to win Game 5 versus the Boston Red Sox of the ALCS to gain a birth in the World Series. The score was 7-0 and I was down in the grounds keepers pit standing behind Peter Gammons waiting to go on the field to interview the winning Rays players and watch the celebration. But the Baseball Gods had other ideas for me that night. The tide changed and the Red Sox began a huge rally. Eventually I left the spot I was in and retreated to the concourse as the cheers grew louder and louder. I ended up some where down the right field line at a deserted hot dog stand with a few Boston stadium workers who were cheering louder than the crowd in the stands. The Red Sox went on to win the game 8-7. The Bosox came down to St Pete and won game 6 4-2. The Rays fans were in all out panic mode for game 7.
I often think of that series and something Don Zimmer shared with me. Before game 6 I got to spend some time with Zim in the dugout. I was thinking what was I going to say to the Rays fans that were looking for answers. What if the Red Sox won game 6 and we had a game 7 in our future with the Red Sox having all the momentum. The Rays Republic was on the verge of collapse like Washington at Vally Forge.
If you got out early enough before BP you would find Don Zimmer sitting alone in the dugout relaxing before the team came out to warm up. I would often be there as well, and quite often Zim would sit down with me and we would talk baseball. That day before game 6 he looked out of the corner of his eye at me and said “you know what, everyone else in baseball would give anything to be where we are today” I looked at him and asked what do you mean. He explained everyone else is at home already, and right now they would trade places with us for anything in the world. Wow he just blew my mind, and just like that he got up and walked onto the field with his fungo bat as the players made their way on the field.
I have always carried that with me ever since. Just when you think the moment is too big for you because the game is on the line, there is a world of people out there that have already lost that would give anything to be where you are with a chance to win.
Good luck Fellas give us a great game 7 will ya.