Game 6 of the 1975 World Series is still the best baseball game I've ever seen, but that might only be because I didn't actually see last night's sixth game of the 2011 Fall Classic. I was already dead asleep for two hours by the time David Freese won it for the Cardinals with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the 11th, but I knew I'd missed something special when I logged on to Twitter first thing this morning and read comments like "This ball game is ridiculous," "I cannot believe this," "This is why baseball is the greatest sport on the planet" and "Move over, Carlton Fisk."
Like Fisk's legendary game-winning home run 37 Octobers ago, Freese's walkoff bomb will be the enduring memory of last night's game, but there was so much more to both games that was or will be all but lost to the sands of time. This morning's vivid images of Freese's game-tying, two-run triple in the bottom of the 9th, Josh Hamilton's two-run homer to put Texas back on top in the 10th and Lance Berkman capping another Cards' rally in the St. Louis half of the 10th will eventually become dusty footnotes like Bernie Carbo's three run homer in the 8th that set the stage for Fisk, George Foster throwing out Denny Doyle at the plate and Dwight Evans robbing Joe Morgan of a go-ahead home run in the 11th in back '75.
Like good scotch, baseball is an acquired taste, and anyone who doesn't have the patience for it can't appreciate that what they perceive as the agonizingly slow pace of the game is exactly what makes it so exciting. When the drama is allowed to build the way it builds in baseball, the emotional payoff is enormous, especially when the stakes are as high as they are in October.
Last night's game will go down as one of the top four or five games in the history of the World Series, and in a sport that's produced more instant classics than any other, that's saying a lot.