An Instant Epic

I was lucky enough to be among the 50,000 faithful at the Rogers Centre who witnessed Wednesday’s ALDS final game between the Rangers and the Blue Jays, a game that has already been unanimously dubbed “an instant classic”.  As dramatic and improbable as Wednesday’s game was, it is really just the apex of an epic season that can only be punctuated but not negated by the outcome of the ALCS and/or the World Series.

The sense of a looming epic was apparent from the outset of the season (after all, spring training saw the return to Canada of prodigal son Russell Martin, and the season was only three weeks old when we witnessed the destruction of Pompey).  From there, it was three months of scuffling before the youthful Alex Anthopoulos, a lad in distress if I ever saw one, rubbed the magic lamp and used his three wishes to conjure Ben Revere, Troy Tulowitzki and David Price to lead (dare I say it) an epic second half to the season to return the Jays to the playoffs for the first time in 22 years.

A similarly dramatic script was a foregone conclusion for the playoff run, but not before a couple of subplots worthy of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were added to this Shakespearean (there it is again) epic.  In the last game of the regular season, the team put at risk a shot at the overall best record in the American League (and home field advantage in the ALCS) by nobly but perhaps unwisely offering their Lion in Winter, Mark Buehrle, the opportunity to start that game on short rest in order to reach the 200 inning mark for the 15th time in what is almost certainly his final season.  For once, someone had forgotten to distribute the scripts, because two first inning infield errors led to six unearned runs and a first inning exit for Buerhle.

Undeterred by this failed attempt at orchestrated milestones, the Jays were back at it in Game 4 of the ALDS.  With starter R. A Dickey cruising with two outs in the fifth inning with a 7-1 lead, out came Manager John Gibbons and in came ace David Price.  With Dickey leaving before the end of five innings, Price needed only to hold on to the lead and pitch three innings to end his undistinguished 0-6 post season streak.  Set up so adroitly (and apparently there is no truth to the rumour that the Jays had also asked that the Ranger agree to blindfold their batters), Price did manage to get that monkey off his back, albeit with a mediocre performance that saw him give up three earned runs in his three innings of work.

So back to the epic march.  Game 5 saw the return to the mound of Marcus Stroman in the fifth start since his Lazarus-like return from what was called and should have been season ending knee surgery in the spring, sporting a Sideshow Bob haircut for those whose recognition of epic foreboding require a more contemporary reference.

And then came the “epic” seventh inning.  A 53 minute extravaganza that featured an unheard of sequence of events that culminated in the Rangers committing three consecutive infield errors under the influence of atomized alcohol from an earlier shower of flying beer cans and a three run, two out home run and bat flip by Jose Bautista that has been memorialized and universally decried on YouTube (apparently even ISIS has dismissed the bat flip as “unnecessarily provocative and unsportsmanlike”).

Epic.

bautista bat flip

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