The beginning and the end

The beginning and the end

Image: Getty Images

If the charm, and sometimes the frustration, of baseball is that everyone gets an AB, the big moments can land on anyone, and any player on the roster could etch his name in history, then it feels as if there is a higher power when the best in the game get to write their signature on something that will go down forever. We know who the greatest are, but only a few get definitive moments that will define a particular season or postseason. There’s Reggie. There’s Kirby. If I’m being honest, Jeter, too, even though it pains me. All who weren’t just some of the best to do it but who will be defined by certain plays or specific moments. This being baseball, they have to share that mantle with the likes of Luis Gonzalez or Francisco Cabrera or Madison Baumgarner. Some really good players, maybe even great at times, but who carry moments that in other sports would belong to the titans only.

The 2022 MLB postseason essentially started with a Yordan Alvarez home run to win a game, and it basically ended with one. Once he shredded a Robbie Ray fastball in Game 1 against Seattle, you kind of knew how this was going to go. He added one more in Game 2, but that’s one we won’t remember as much. We will remember his World Series Game 6 homer, given not just its importance but its authoritativeness. Same with that homer to kick off the Astros’ run. Those moments of contact, the sound they made off the bat, or the way the ball looked blasting off the bat, and the way each cut through the entire moment like wheat, that’s what will make them signature. For one brief second, at each end of the playoffs, all there was was Yordan Alvarez pulverizing a baseball. Two instants when the world stopped for him. They will be the Yordan Alvarez Playoffs.

The funny thing of course is that Alvarez was pretty terrible in between those homers. He hit .192 for the three rounds. He struck out 16 times in 61 plate appearances. But no one’s going to care too much about that, or even remember it. Reggie Jackson had two hits in the ALCS in 1977, and only two hits in the first four games of the following World Series. Don’t hear much about that.

That’s probably another charm of baseball. Everyone might get a turn, and you’ll always get another one. Alvarez had probably been waiting for three whole rounds for another chance, struggling as he was. The possibility of something memorable was always hanging around. And then it happened. One to erase all the others that came after the first homer. Bookends, except they erase everything in between instead of bracing them.

Alvarez won’t care how his postseason will stand in juxtaposition to the bitterness that most of baseball still has toward the Astros and their second World Series in five seasons, to go with their two additional World Series appearances. It won’t be long before the “Yeah but…” disappears from every mention of Alvarez’s October. Fans outside of Houston can rage all they want, but in 10, 20 years it’s more likely that 2017’s cheating scandal will be covered in more sand than the replays of Alvarez starting and ending the 2022 postseason. That’s how baseball works.

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.