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Happy flights and must-wins: World Series Game 2

October 20, 2011

What baseball fans nationwide (yes, even in New York – I said “baseball fans,” not “Yankees fans”) saw last night in Game 1 of the World Series was a fun ballgame, complete with a homer, good pitching, Yadier Molina’s arm and a controversial call. More importantly, they saw a St. Louis Cardinals victory, and hence they will see what Ron Washington and his Texas boys are made of tonight in Game 2.

The Cards have made a killing over the past month and a half with their highly-publicized “happy flight” mantra. What it meant during the regular season is that no matter what happened, they should at least win the last game of a series before they traveled to their next city. What it’s meant so far in the postseason is that, well St. Louis is going to win the game before they travel. That would include tonight. Playing at home or on the road has seemingly made no difference; St. Louis’ last four happy flights have been preceded by a 1-0 clincher in Philadelphia, a rout of the Brewers in Milwaukee, a win at home and another mashing at Miller Park, this time to win the NLCS. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s been like clockwork for those Redbirds.

That just makes Game 2 even more of a must-win for the Rangers. Then again, if there’s anything we’ve learned from the 2004 ALCS, or perhaps in a more contemporary example, the last month of the regular season, it’s that every game should be a must-win for every team. Even the littlest of momentum swings can change an entire season – that’s what makes baseball so wonderful. Unless your team’s mascot is Mr. Met, all it takes sometimes is one victory (or loss) to spark a wildfire.

If the Rangers lose tonight, as I expect them to do with a travel day looming, it’ll pretty much spell their doom for this series. However, if the Cardinals lose and fly home unhappy, it’ll certainly be interesting to see what Texas can do with that momentum as they head into Arlington for three games. Tonight’s matchup features Colby “Sort of Mr. October” Lewis going for the Rangers against the Cards’ Jaime “Spring Training Doesn’t Matter” Garcia. Neither has shown the type of effectiveness or ineffectiveness to qualify any sort of prediction for a winner, so it looks like it’ll be up to the offenses to show us which team “must” win more so than the other.

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