Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Top Saddest Thing About Baseball Season

1.) The end.

(FYI: This isn’t really going to be much of list, just a collection of thoughts about the Minnesota Twins, Game #163, and baseball in general.)

I jumped out of my seat as fast as I could after Alexi Casilla flied out center to end the game; I was absolutely determined not to see the White Sox celebrating their victory and subsequent clinching of the AL Central crown. But celebrate they should, I suppose… it was an absolute artwork of a game. Still, one bad pitch gets slapped 461 feet and that’s the season.

In the 8th, I couldn’t help but think, “These are the Twins, man! They do the little things right, they play small ball, they’re fundamental… someone’s gonna tie this up.” I actually found myself convinced that Nicky Punto was going to knock one out of the park. (Nick, on the most offhand of chances, if you are reading—know that I am the only kid walking around NYC with a #8 jersey that reads “Twins” on the front and your name on the back. You’re my guy.) That’s what a great ballclub does, I guess… they make you believe.

As per usual, my mind has been flooded with a host of clichés… tokenisms about there always being a next year, and hockey season being a few weeks away, and the fact that it’s only a game. Well, DFW said that clichés stick around for a reason—they’re deep, transcendent truths and the fact that we’ve heard them a million times doesn’t detract from their validity. That maybe true, but I just have to take an issue with that last one: “It’s only a game.” Yeah. It is. It is only a game. And that’s what I love about it. I love games, because we need games. We need to be able to play and (sometimes!) win at ultimately meaningless things because we need that release. We’re in the midst of a financial crisis, the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades. Thursday night, a vice presidential candidate is going to take the stage for a debate who believes the earth was created in six days. There are still good-hearted American kids dying in Iraq, not to mention the good-hearted kids on the other side, as well. Excuse the preachiness, but that’s why we need to spend three meaningless hours on the couch every once in a while, it’s three hours you don’t have to spend staring at headlines that make you want to jerk your car off a bridge. 

I’m not saying we should trade in our moral compasses for a glove and a bat. I’m just saying it can be a symbiotic relationship. Besides, the will to compete and the urge to cheer are basic human drives, as is the will to create artificial sets of rules and go and out play by them. It’s all story…

Anyway. Now that I’ve mentioned Sarah Palin, Iraq, and the human condition in general… I left my house and went for a walk. (A walk I went on after the 1998 NFC Championship Game, after Super Bowl XXV—well, kinda—after the 2003 West Conference Finals… and a whole host of other times.) “Unsatisfied” by the Replacements came on my iPod. That was quaint. I walked up to the liquor store with the cat that I like, but it looked like she was off for the night. I made a concerted effort to avoid any brands relating to the color white, socks, or Chicago in general. As I rang out with the cashier… the little cat strolled out of the back room and sidled up to my sneakers, as if she knew somehow. (She didn’t. She’s a cat and I am  human who is regularly nice to her. Anyway, though, it was a sweet gesture.) Here’s the thing. We’ve got five young pitchers with great arms and brains. We’ve got the AL batting champ and the likely MVP runner-up. We can win without Torii and Johan. We’ve got speed, we’ve got heart, we’ve got fundamentals. Granted, it didn’t win us the World Series or anything this year… but it at least got us past #162. Even if just for one game.

Well. Thanks for a great season, guys. Pitchers and catchers report in 137 days. I hope I can last that long.


Anonymous said...

best list i've seen so far. great writing

Colin said...

beautiful. punto would be proud.