By David Waters, The Commercial Appeal
In a city that loves its gritty Grizzlies and spirited Tigers, it hasn’t been easy for the Redbirds to get and hold our attention. But our city’s baseball team deserves our undivided attention and full support this week.
The Memphis Redbirds just completed a historic regular season, winning a Pacific Coast League-high 91 games, eight more than any previous Redbirds team.
That includes the 2000 PCL champs, who won 83 games with a roster that included future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols and a scrappy second baseman named Stubby Clapp.
Clapp, who hit three home runs and drove in 11 during that 2000 playoff run, returned to the Redbirds this year as a rookie manager. Last week he was named PCL Manager of the Year.
Their first two playoff games are at AutoZone Park on Wednesday and Thursday. The weather should be perfect. The 2009 Minor League Ballpark of the Year’s 10,000 seats should be filled.
Not just because only nine other teams in the 119 years of professional baseball in Memphis won more regular season games.
Not just because this Redbirds team finished the season with a higher winning percentage (.645) than last year’s World Series champion Chicago Cubs (.640).
Not just because the Redbirds finished 22 games ahead of the second-place Nashville Sounds, even though not a single Redbird led the league in any major hitting or pitching category.
We should rally around this Memphis team because of how hard and well they have rallied all season.
Going into Monday’s final regular season game, the Redbirds were assured of having the best record in team history. They already had clinched home field advantage in the playoffs. They were on the road and down a run going into the 9th inning.
They kept grinding. They tied the game with one out in the top of the 9th. They scored two go-ahead runs with two outs in the 10th. They held on to win by a single run, giving them a perfect 11-0 record in extra-inning games this season.
The gritty, spirited 2017 Memphis Redbirds deserve our attention and support.