“Of all the words of tongue and pen
“The saddest are these: It might have been”
– Felix Unger, 1972
– John Greenleaf Whittier, 1856
For sports fans, the simpler lament is this: “What if?”
What-ifs dominate the conversation around water coolers, along saloon tables, in text threads. Sports fans love talking about the championships their teams have won; they live to bewail the titles that were stolen, taken or simply denied through a cruel series of incidents and accidents and plain rotten luck.
The Astros’ appearance at Yankee Stadium this week for the first time since it was revealed they were — cough, cough — aided and abetted in winning the 2017 ALCS in seven memorable games from the Yankees was merely the most recent bewilderment to befall our baseball teams. It is a fairly tortured list.
What if those ’17 games were played on the up-and-up? It is a fair and eternal question, and the best (or, depending on your perspective) worst kind of what-if: We don’t know that it would’ve played out as we suspect it would’ve played out. But good luck selling us that any of these wouldn’t have each ended somewhere…