Monday, October 24, 2011

The Kids Are Alright in Arlington.

Whew, what a weekend!!! Chaotic. Seismic, even. Just a whirlwind of activity.

To whit: The landscape of college football got itself good and altered as the Badgers and Sooners departed in ignoble fashion from the ranks of the undefeated. The World Series served up whiplash-inducing pace-change oscillations between offensive firefights and lock-down pitching heroics. The NFL was its usual blend of excitement, perplexities, triumphs, and total humiliations. Hockey happened. Basketball did not.

From amidst the insanity, beauty, and wreckage, I feel the need to salute a pair of young'uns who dropped jaws and broke things (like records and their opponents' psyches) on Sunday. They had geography, both theirs and their opponents', in common (good gravy, was it ever a big day for heroics and records in Arlington, TX venues against teams from St. Louis!), but their achievements were absolutely unique. Allow me to present:

DeMarco Murray - RB, Dallas Cowboys. The 23-year old rookie out of Oklahoma pretty much did whatever he wanted with the rock on Sunday afternoon. In his 6th NFL game and only his second in which he logged double-digit carries, Murray racked up an astounding 253 yards on 25 carries for an average of 10.1 yds-per-rush. That sterling performance included a 91-yard touchdown explosion that ignited Dallas on their way to a 34-7 victory. He ran over, around, through, past, and any other descriptors you'd care to insert, would-be tacklers all game long. It wasn't just that he was unstoppable, it was the fact that after a while everybody on the field knew he was unstoppable, and everybody in a different-colored jersey pretty much gave up trying. Murray's day was good for 9th all time in the NFL's single-game rushing totals. It was also the most in Cowboys' history, passing Emmit Smith, and that 91-yard TD scamper was the second-longest in team history behind Tony Dorsett's 99-yarder in 1983. Yes, Murray perpetrated this madness against the Rams, who rank dead-last in the league in rush defense. Some people are saying that this fact takes a bit of luster off what he did yesterday. To them I say: poppycock! For a rookie to tally that kind of yardage against any defense ... actually, scratch that. Anyone at all who puts up 253 rushing yards in any one game had himself a day worthy of the Gods, or at least a really good epic ballad dedicated to the feat, circumstances be damned. Mr. Murray, hats off to you, sir.

Derek Holland - LHP, Texas Rangers. A mere hour or so after DeMarco Murray wrapped his day for the ages, Derek Holland threw the first pitch in what would become a night for the pantheon of holy-#%$&!!!!! awesomeness. The 25-year old Holland was taken by the Rangers in the 25th round of the 2006 draft, and results thus far have been mixed. He's got electric stuff, but he's not always in total control, and his young career has been an erratic jigsaw puzzle for the most part. None of it mattered last night. In a game his team had to have, Holland didn't do much other than twirl one of the great games in World Series history. Working every pitch, running from high-90's to mid-70's in velocity, and hitting almost every spot, he baffled, cajoled, hoodwinked, and firebombed a potent Saint Louis lineup into submission. Here's the ridiculous line: 8 1/3 IP, 0R, 0ER, 2H, 2BB, 7K. And the raw numbers miss these fun little tidbits: 1. Only one Cardinal even reached second base while Holland was on the mound. 2. That player was Lance Berkman, responsible for both of the hits against Holland. The rest of the Cards' lineup went 0-for-24. That's sort of the definition of complete dominance. The other pitchers in the last 40 years who have chalked up 8 1/3 scoreless while giving up two or fewer hits in a World Series game: Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine, and Kenny Rogers. That's some rarefied company, my friends. This wasn't entirely unprecedented from Holland; he was tied for most shutouts thrown in the AL this year. However, he also posted an abysmal 8.59 ERA in the ALCS and his confidence had been flagging of late. Somehow, someway, he trekked into the mountains of pitching psyche, found a big ol' vein of raw Mojo Ore, mined and refined that thing into a Fort Knox-sized repository of Mojo Currency, and then spent it all on Sunday night. It's a feat we're not likely to see replicated anytime soon.

For these two young athletes, and for Arlington, TX, I suspect October 23, 2011, is going to be remembered fondly and reverently for a very, very long while. When that much history gets made in that short a time, what can you do put pick your jaw up off the floor, tip your cap, raise your glass, and say "Cheers." Naturally, in this case, with a bottle of Lone Star. Yee Haw.

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