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Crisp cool autumn air transforms day into night. Click clak sounds echoing from squeaky dog wagons transform into charcoal aroma's eminating from street corner pretzel peddlers. Ticket holders by the thousands sidestep fellow visitors lining the sidewalks of baseball's Grand Cathedral. Sounds of snapping leather and crackling wood can be heard after passing through brick entrances. Excitement cannot be touched but it's felt by all anxiously making their way to designated seating areas.
Men wearing red and gray are slowly introduced soon to stand side by side on a 318 foot white line. Their opponents, dressed in white with black pinstripes, are enthusiastically greeted on their way to the 314 foot line on the fields opposite side. Deafening sounds reverberate throughout the confines. The ground begins to tremble. A stocky man dressed in all black bellows "Play Ball!" The World Series is now ready to begin.
Nearly all in attendance can tell of personal dreams of World Series greatness. Full count, two outs, bases loaded, bottom of the 9th, one hit wins the World Series... (crack)... "and there it goes!" Everyone's a hero in their own fantasy. Only a select few actually get the chance to live their fantasies.
Chase Utley must have exceeded his dreams. Philadelphia's second sacker has tied the all time record by hitting five home runs so far during the 2009 World Series. But, what about the player who thinks he's about to live his dream only to fall flat on baseball's biggest stage? That's what seems to be happening to two players who were near the top in prestigious offensive hitting categories.
Former National League Rookie of the Year (2005) and NL MVP (2006) Ryan Howard has quickly made a name for himself as one of the games greatest power hitting first basemen. He led the NL in RBI for the 2nd consecutive year (3 of 4). In 9 playoff games, Howard knocked in 14 runs during the first two playoff rounds. He was a World Series hero in 2008 when he smashed 3 HR in 5 games. After 5 games in 2009 Series, Howard appears dazed and confused. He has only 3 hits in 19 at bats. 12 of his 16 outs have been strikeouts. Howard's dream has become a nightmare. He's not the only one....
New York Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira tied for the AL lead in home runs (39) and led in RBI (122). His name has been tossed into a hat with other potential MVP candidates. However, in his first World Series appearance, Teixeira has been horrendous. 2-19, 7 K's. His best swings come on foul balls.
Both of these two fine players would like nothing more than to personally contribute to their teams success in winning the 2009 World Series. Goal number one is to win it all. Goal number two is to be an integral part of winning. So far, Philadelphia and New York are winning games without much input from their heavy hitting first basemen. Two players used to electrifying crowds are now recipients of heckled insults and collective sighing.
Howard and Teixeira visions of success have quickly dimmed. Dreams turned to nightmare. Fantasy to hallucination. There's still time for positive contributions. The winning team will bask in all glory associated with winning. The least productive will soon bear loser status and a most unwanted nickname... goat.