The 162-game schedule of Major League Baseball drives away a decent chunk of the otherwise sports-loving population. Baseball fans, though, we find a certain beauty to it. The grueling, day-in day-out nature produces order where other sports offer only chaos.
But that order springs from the chaos that defines all sports, the “any given Sunday” and “that’s why the play the game” nature that remains a platitude in press boxes across the country. It was this chaos that ruled the final innings of this afternoon’s Cardinals-Cubs matchup that could prove pivotal in the race for the final Wild Card slot if the Brewers can maintain their scorching play.
The 162 game slate brings the kind of chaos that leaves the Cardinals bullpen without its two top relievers — Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte each had pitched on three straight days. The kind of chaos that allows a two-out matchup to impact the fates of not only the pitching team but a team watching and waiting 700 miles away. The kind of chaos that puts the fates of two teams on the shoulders of a scrawny second baseman of a fifth-place club. The kind of chaos that guides a ball off the same second baseman’s bat into the awaiting hands of one of the few fans sticking around Wrigley Field’s left field bleachers to tie the game on their team’s final out.
This same chaos renders multiple All-Stars rendered helpless as opposing relievers — veteran and rookie alike in Carlos Marmol and Alberto Cabrera — release and pray the ball finds its mark. This same chaos yanks an 86 MPH changeup back over the heart of the plate for one of the Cubs’ remaining veterans in David DeJesus to knock in one of its many rookies to knock down the reigning World Champions. All despite a steal of home and the return of one of their aces in Chris Carpenter.
Even the weirdest of baseball happenings stretched over 162 games have explanations. This season’s Baltimore Orioles aren’t just a freak of nature, they’re a team with a bullpen that has stepped up to hold onto nearly every lead it can latch on to. But over a single game? Over one series, over just two weeks? Sometimes the little guy finds his best swing at exactly the right moment.
And now on September 21, with just 12 days to go in the season, chaos has reeled the Brewers within one game in the loss column of the St. Louis Cardinals. Every now and again, order will peek its little head out — Ryan Braun and Matt Holliday will hit their home runs, Adam Wainwright and Yovani Gallardo will throw their gems. But make no mistake: chaos will reign.
Now, the Brewers just have to hope chaos rides with them.