The Cubs and Brewers go into today’s games tied at the top of the N.L. Central, both with 94 wins.
The Rockies and Dodgers go into today’s game tied at the top of the N.L. West, both with 90 wins.
The Rangers go into today’s game with 94 losses, one less than they suffered in 2014.
A lot is on the line in Game 162 of the season.
In Chicago and Milwaukee and in Los Angeles and Denver, fans will be glued to their TVs to see the fate of their teams, and to see if there will be tiebreakers games tomorrow. The stakes are high and so too will be the drama.
Around here, the only drama is whether this will be Adrian Beltre’s last game ever. He will be in the lineup at third base today, just in case. It reminds me of game in 1983, one of the best memories I ever had at a ballgame.
It was Johnny Bench Day in Cincinnati. He was retiring and playing in one of his last games ever. The legendary catcher had been mostly used at third base and first base, age and bad knees suggesting he give up his position behind the plate.
But this Johnny Bench Day, a celebration of his Hall of Fame career. And the Reds gave their fans what they came to see. Johnny Bench playing catcher.
In the bottom of the third inning Johnny Bench gave the fans what they came to see. Down 2-0 to the Houston Astros, Bench stepped up to the plate with a runner at first and one out. He hit the second pitch he saw. It was a line drive deep to left field that hit between the first and second decks in old Riverfront Stadium.
It hit a sign that read: HIT IT HERE JOHNNY.
And the crowd of more than 53,000 went wild. Grown men cried. I cried. Heroes answer letters.
For a few moments I thought Riverfront Stadium was going to crumble it shook so much. I don’t recall how long of a standing ovation he got. It was at least three minutes. But three minutes seems like a lifetime. And it was an appropriate send off to a guy who had given me a lifetime of joy. I was 24. Bench had played 17 seasons. So, it was literally most of my lifetime.
I remember wondering what baseball was going to be like without Bench. I remember wondering if I would watch it anymore, whether it would hold the same joy.
I learned that game is bigger than one player.
If this is, indeed, Adrian Beltre’s last game, I hope he goes out in the same grand style Johnny Bench did. Because there’s no doubt he will end up in the same place.
The Hall of Fame.
Rangers fans don’t have October to look forward too. The Rangers aren’t playing a game of any consequence. They haven’t had one of those since 2016.
It’s time to say goodbye to this miserable 2018 season. It’s time to say goodbye to a career that was anything but that.
Yovani Gallardo (8-7, 6.40) vs. Roenis Elias (2-1, 2.93)
Game time: 2:10