The Commish Online                                                                                
2005 MLB Playoffs
Upper Deck Ecstasy
October 24, 2005

After a classic Game 1 in which Chicago's seldom used bullpen shut the door on the Houston Astros, I was offered a ticket for Game 2.  Obviously I could not pass it up, hoping for something close in emotion to the previous night.  Wish granted.  Sitting seven rows up in U.S. Cellular Field's upper deck, just three sections from the foul pole, this must be said:  the upper deck gets a bad rap, and the view is actually quite good.  The steep pitch of the second level allows you to actually SEE the game while other fans are racing to the beer line, searching for a Lemon Chill vendor, etc. 

It was almost refreshing NOT being able to see a replay of Pettitte picking off Iguchi or Chris Burke sliding past A.J. Pierzynski to tie the game.  As a fan, you had to take each play for what it was: cheer or boo, then move on, instead of lingering on a past call and thinking ahead to how each moment could have been different.  Emotions are wasted and lost on analyzing what "could have happened" or what "should have happened."  The beauty of being there was that 40,000 fans spent all of their emotions on the action, not on the reaction.  It is for that reason alone that I appreciated the night all the more, embracing the rain and cold for a chance to view history in its raw form.  Thanks to the players on the field, not the cameramen and announcers, history was made last night, and for that I am thankful.
Would I pass up a Scout Seat (premium seats behind home plate) for a chance at the "comforts" of the 500 level?  Of course not, but it turns out the "upper tank" can still be enjoyable.  Enough about the seats.  I'd like to discuss the difference between experiencing a game like last night's at home compared to being at the park.
Not exactly "Bernie Mac" seats, but a good view of the game.
Both views had advantages.  Some advantages of couch viewing: you didn't have to put on four layers of clothing, walk in the rain, stand in lines, sit in the cold, drop some serious coin on a ticket, and hope the ground crew doesn't roll the tarp on the field, leaving you stuck in a cold wet seat.  Some advantages of being there:  the energy of the crowd doesn't translate to TV, beer and hot dogs taste better at a World Series game, and Konerko's grand slam, Vizcaino's game tying hit, and Podsednik's improbable home run carried a lot more emotion and excitement when you saw it happen right in front of you.

One thing that was the same:  witnessing Chicago's baserunning blunders.  Whether at the park or at home, it was evident that the White Sox made several baserunning miscues (Rowand, Uribe, Iguchi) and it took a lot of drama for Chicago to overcome those mistakes.
The biggest reason, however, a first person account of last night's game was better than watching it at home:  no media interference.  Specifically, the play in which Jermaine Dye was ruled hit-by-pitch in the 7th inning only brought mild confusion on the field and was settled timely.  Replays at home made the play a huge part of the game, even though a properly ruled "foul ball" still would have left Dye at the plate with a 3-2 count and "who knows what" to follow.  Like the infamous non-dropped third strike in the ALCS, the controversy seemed to resonate more with the fans at home than it did with the opposing team on the field.  This is because the game is played on the field and officiated on the field, not with the use of cameras.  Baseball is a real-time game - not one that should be rewound and filled with "do overs." 
The man who would be King (in Chicago)
Check out TCO's 2005 Season Preview for an April flashback to see how well The Commish predicted this season's outcomes.
A hero's welcome