The Savage Beauty of Baseball’s Best-Of-Five

by Kolby Solinsky

White Cover Magazine

There is such savage beauty in a best-of-five.

It’s just like a Long Weekend, like the Thanksgiving we just had in Canada: three days off work is fantastic, until you realize you spent the first two days lounging away your rare break, and you spent the last day farting out last night’s turkey dinner. There’s enough room to lie down, but not enough that Tuesday won’t become Monday very soon. Every vacation is wasted, really, because you’re always one day closer to returning to work, even before you take your first day off.

And the Texas Rangers are learning that lesson right now, like the Toronto Blue Jays were supposed to be learning that lesson last week. And for the sake of baseball, let’s hope both have: let’s hope the Rangers are smarter now, that they’ll finally push back against the tide that’s been Toronto’s second half. And let’s hope the Jays we’ve seen this weekend are the Jays we’ll see in Game 5.

Let’s hope this series is really as uninhibited and as natural as it’s seemed, so far.

It’s weird, maybe, to realize that the away team has only won to-date. How did Toronto blow both its home wins – how did it let the Rangers get the jump so fast? And how did Texas then squander not just one, but a second, chance to lock this thing down? All they had to do was hit the nail with the hammer, but repeated whiffs – very literally, whiffs, but with a bat – and a jumpy coffin shook them off.

And again, that’s the savagery – and the beauty – of this best-of-five setup. It’s the same rancid awesomeness that the Wild Card’s become: really, you’re going to force Pittsburgh and the Yankees to play themselves into the ground for 162 games to earn the postseason, only to give them a one-game audition for every marble? You’re seriously going to cram a year of work into nine innings of winner-take-all?

It’s never fair for the losers. Those nine innings are never enough. But hell, such is the life they’ve chosen. That’s sport, in its rawest and its most unforgiving. And it always comes down to nine innings eventually, doesn’t it, whether it’s the Wild Card or a pivotal weekend in August or the last game of the World Series?

At first, you thought the first-to-three format would ruin the Blue Jays. They were down 1-0 before they even knew the war had started, like Achilles waking up at Noon while Athens charged Troy’s walls. And then, after losing an edge-of-their-seat, 14-inning Game 2, it was practically all over – the wonderful, draped-in-blue miracle season was suddenly only a walk-off home run or a botched knuckleball or a bobble grounder away from a disastrous, crumbled end.

Texas was nearly there, even in each of their home losses: if Tulowitzki hadn’t flexed his only offence in Sunday’s bottom of the sixth, or if the Jays hadn’t hit the seam off the ball on Monday early and violently, the Rangers could have won one-of-two by default. You’d think, if each team slouched toward Game 5, they would have split each home stand.

And they did, as and end result. It doesn’t really matter how they got here – only that they did, because these two teams deserve a Game 5.

All of a sudden, the Rangers are the ones realizing just how short this series is. If it could go seven, maybe their fast start would have actually worked in their favour – but while Toronto may have fallen behind faster, they also were never that far from the lead.

You can only pull so far ahead in a best-of-five. Texas deserves a third chance to put their foot down; the Blue Jays deserve a third chance to flip the mattress.

VIDEO: Exceptional Estrada Wins Game 3 for Toronto Blue Jays (ALDS)