Players must know this. They must see the crowds arriving earlier to their seats, filling in every last row in the stadium. More reporters hang around the clubhouse, more cameras and microphones shadow them in their daily routine. Friends and family who may have been indifferent to their occupation, suddenly want tickets. All those kids from AAA teams who were suited up in big league colours for the last month, eager and bright eyed? Those kids are gone, watching at home. Only the real big leaguers remain. They playoffs aren't any more complicated when the umpire shouts 'Play ball!' every night, but the feeling has to be different. There is something at stake every night. There is an awareness of all these little changes, turning up the pressure one more notch.
People remember what you do in October. That's the way of the baseball world. Dave Winfield waited 11 years to shake the label 'Mr. May'. Bill Buckner only exists in the casual fan's mind for one fateful October moment. Joe Carter hit 396 home runs in the regular season. You can only find one picture of him running the bases in your memory bank. Fisk waving one fair in game six, 1975. Bucky effing Dent. October remembers.
|Maybe I know why he's having trouble.|
Which means Raul Ibanez is our somewhat unlikely great. He's been to the post-season 5 times himself. In fact, he was in the opposite dugout in 2009 when A-Rod had his big coming out party in New York. He has no ring with the World Series logo on it. Yet.