Baseball is creeping into Facebook. We are 10 years away from wondering how we followed the game without it. In Anaheim, Mike Trout’s greatness is being wasted. Meanwhile I look at the Pirates team that should have won.
Give a Like and Friend this episode of Sully Baseball.
Jason Kipnis stood at the plate in the bottom of the 9th inning. It was Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. The score was tied, 6-6.
Aroldis Chapman, the pile of shit domestic abuser, was in his 4,000th inning of work and the inning before had allowed Rajai Davis’ mind boggling game tying homer.
After some sparkling defense in the top of the 9th, the Indians were sending up the top of the order, Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor. In what was already a cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs game, all the Indians needed was one single run and they would be the World Champs.
Cleveland, who had not had a championship since the 1964 Browns heading into the 2016 season, would have their second of the season following the Cavaliers stunning win over the Golden State Warriors.
LeBron James was in the stadium, going nuts after the Davis homer.
One run. That was all that was needed.
Carlos Santana flew out. One away. Up came Jason Kipnis, who had scored on a 2 run wild pitch earlier and back in Wrigley clobbered a massive home run back when the Indians had control of the series.
With one swing of his bat, Kipnis could not only become one of the most celebrated figures in the history of Cleveland sports but could deliver one of the most dramatic World Series moments ever.
Plus it would give Fox, ESPN, Turner and MLB.com another year to milk Cub misery. (That extra season in 2003 and Aaron Boone made the notion of the Curse and the Red Sox profitable for one more season before the conclusion of 2004.)
With one swing, the failures of 1954, 1995,1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2007 would be washed away.
4 times the Indians lost a final game of a playoff series since their last title in 1948. They lost the 1997 World Series when they had a lead in the bottom of the 9th.
All could be changed with one swing of Jason Kipnis’ bat.
There was something oddly poetic about “Kip” having the fate of the Cubs and Indians in his own bat. An Illinois native, he went to Cubs games as a kid before playing ball at both the University of Kentucky and later becoming a star for Arizona State University.
Selected by Cleveland in the 2009 draft, he quickly became one of the best prospects in the Indians system, becoming a starter in 2012.
The 25 year old Kipnis had a solid rookie campaign, hitting 14 homers, in 2012. But in 2013, his power improved, he stole 30 bases and posted an .818 OPS helping the Indians to the American League Wild Card Game.
A down year in 2014 was followed by a .303 average and .823 OPS in 2015, earning his second trip to the All Star Game.
Then came 2016. His .811 OPS was complimented by a career high 23 homers. The Indians would bypass the Wild Card and win the AL Central for the first time since 2007. Then he helped manager Terry Francona sweep his old team, the Red Sox, with a 1.053 OPS in the Division Series.
A poor ALCS, despite a homer, didn’t keep the Indians from winning the pennant.
In the World Series he kept his average high and his OPS solid and mashed a pair of homers, making it 4 over all in the post season for Kipnis.
And all of that was whittled down to the bottom of the 9th, game tied, 7th game of the World Series, one out, nobody on, 1-1 the count.
Chapman pitched. Kipnis swung. It was a drive to right.
At first it looked like it was going to be one of his line drive homers that parked itself into the right field stands. At first glance it sure looked like a sweet homer.
For a split second, Jason Kipnis looked like he had just clinched the World Series and would etch his name along side Bill Mazeroski and Joe Carter as the only players to hit World Series ending homers.
A few seconds later it looked like it didn’t have the height. But if it went into the corner, it would be an easy double, maybe even a triple, that would give Francisco Lindor, Mike Napoli or Jose Ramirez each a shot to win the World Series with one dying quail to right.
And then… it hooked foul.
There is no box score that can record what those few seconds feel like. There is no stat to quantify it.
Future baseball fans will read the box score of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series and have no idea of the irrational roller coaster of emotions that engulfed less than 10 seconds of life.
That in less time than it takes a pre schooler to count to ten, Kipnis went from a God to merely a player.
He extended the count to 3-2 before striking out. Lindor popped up on the first pitch. The Cubs scored two after a rain delay to take the lead in the 10th. The Indians countered with one but Chicago clinched the title.
Baseball history was made… and a different history could have been made had a ball not gone foul.
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