Here we are again, approaching the end of another season. The last games of the regular season will be Sunday, then we get a day off to prepare ourselves before Thanksgiving, aka the playoffs, begin Tuesday.
Look for my annual rundown of who to root for in the playoffs Tuesday morning. I had hoped to do that today, so you would have time to run out and get appropriate ceremonial garb (caps, shirts, underwear, etc.), but unfortunately, the teams aren’t quite set. As I write this, three teams are still hanging on, hoping for a miracle.
In the National League, the Milwaukee Brewers are four games out with four games remaining. If they win their final four games and San Francisco loses their final four, the Brewers would face the Giants in tiebreaker game for the final wild card spot. It could happen.
In the American League, there are two teams pondering their faint hopes, the Seattle Mariners (three games out with four remaining) and the Cleveland Indians (three and a half games out with three remaining). The As and Royals are currently tied for the wild card; the Indians and Mariners will be looking to win out and hope that one or both of the leaders to tie their shoelaces together and fall on their bats in ritual suicide. It could happen.
It could happen. That’s a nice thought. We’ve talked about hope so many times before, and “it could happen” is the ultimate expression of hope. The chances are poor (the oddsmakers give the Brewers a 0.3% chance of making the playoffs, the Mariners a 0.4% chance, and the Indians a 0.9% chance*), but hey, four game winning streaks and four game losing streaks happen all the time. Hell, the Mariners currently have a five game losing streak, and Texas, the second-worst team in baseball this year, currently has a four game winning streak. It could happen.
* The Indians are getting slightly better odds than the Mariners despite that extra half-game because they’ve got a better record over the past ten games and because they only need to win three games instead of four.
Year after year–decade after decade in some cases–we continue to pin our hopes on “it could happen”. Why do we torture ourselves this way? I could say that if we don’t torture ourselves, who will? And yes, there’s an element of truth in that: if you want to be sure something is done right, do it yourself. And baseball is, as we’ve said repeatedly, a religion. Faith is the core of the religious experience, and you can’t pay someone else to have faith on your behalf.
More, watching those last few games, clinging to the hope that “next year” could actually be “this year” until the final out is recorded* on your team’s chances, is also a show of loyalty. We all know the majority of players have no loyalty to the fans. We all know the owners, by and large, have even less loyalty. So? That doesn’t reduce our responsibility to live up to our commitments. That’s the deal: you play the games, we’ll cheer, no matter how depressing it might be or how hopeless it might seem.
* Or even beyond in this age of video review and managerial challenges…
So, go Cleveland! Go Seattle! And yes, go Milwaukee!
It could happen.
My husband once went to Oakland to see the Jets play, and secretly wore green underwear.
Oakland football fans are scary. I’m surprised they don’t do underwear checks.
For a while, most MLB teams were selling underwear. A quick check of the MLB store suggests that it doesn’t sell very well. Only the Yankees and Phillies still have women’s undies. Barely more than half (sixteen of the thirty teams) have men’s underwear, and even those are in limited styles.
I’d say generally you’re right about the players not caring about the fans, but every now and then you see something that makes you pause. A few years ago, Felix (for those not in Seattle, Felix Hernandez, the pitcher) put in an appearance at a Fred Meyer store to sign whatever people brought in. Which he did, with a smile and a personal greeting to each person, and an extremely patient and pleasant setup for people to take pictures of him, especially with kids. Felix will be pitching on Sunday, the last game of the season, and if It Really Does Happen, the place will be sold out; if not, it will be deserted. But if the latter, I’m considering going to the game to cheer for Felix to put in a final masterpiece to nail down the Cy Young Award.
There are others who go beyond the bare minimum engagement of recognizing that fans are at the games. But Felix is the reason I said “majority of players” rather than “none”.
Update: The Brewers committed three errors in losing their game today. That means they took an active role in ensuring that It Didn’t Happen for them. A question for another post: if it doesn’t happen, is it more or less frustrating for the fans when the team shoots themselves in the foot, rather than getting a bad break?
I’m still pulling for your M’s.
I’m not going to risk jinxing them by commenting on their progress, but thanks. I’m sure they appreciate all the support they can scrape up.
Pingback: Root, Root, Root, for…??? | Koi Scribblings