Playoff baseball is the best baseball. We can all agree on that. But every once in a while, the regular season lines up so perfectly, so dramatically, that it creates a situation you’ll never find in the postseason. We’re talking about a simultaneous, multi-team, multi-game horserace to the finish line. To understand just how wild that can be, look no further than the final night of the 2011 MLB season.
We begin, as always, at the end. In extra innings of a tied Yankees-Rays game in Florida, Evan Longoria stands at the plate with a chance to walk off for the win … and a playoff spot. The fact that things even got to that point is ridiculous. It depended on Tampa rallying into wild card position throughout September. It depended on the Boston Red Sox falling apart. Tonight, it depended on the miserable Baltimore Orioles choosing to give it their all just for the fun of it … and perhaps getting some help from a former Ray. It depended on Longoria and his teammates— some of them rather obscure— making one last push in a historic month-long rally.
“Game 162” was one of the coolest nights in baseball history. Before we watch Evan Longoria try to end it, let’s rewind.