Pull Up a Seat

The playoffs have started well, with the Astros and Cubs both shutting out their Wild Card opponents. Is it just me, or does everyone find a zero on the scoreboard magically makes the game more exciting? I know I’ll watch a 3-0 game with much more interest than a 4-1 game, even if there isn’t a no-hitter or perfect game on the line.

AL Division Series games start tonight, giving us our first post-season looks at Texas, Toronto, and Kansas City. We can’t, of course, expect all three teams to win with shutouts tonight, since the two non-US teams are playing each other*. But we can hope for a couple of close shutouts. Why not? 2014 was the Year of the Sweep, thanks to the Royals. Let’s make 2015 the Year of the Shutout.

* What, you mean you don’t consider Texas to be a foreign country?

But shutouts aren’t really what I set out to talk about. Consider for a moment the plight of the Yankees’* and Pirates’ fans. They’ve followed their teams all season, cheering, crying, no doubt swearing at times. They felt the joy of making the playoffs, and now it’s over, and they have to join the rest of us at the “Wait Until Next Year Table”.

* Yes, I really do have some sympathy for fans of the Yankees. Not particularly for the team, but the fans. Some of them, anyway. Mostly the ones young enough to have avoided infection by the sense of entitlement that plagued the House That Ruth Built and now runs rampant in its successor.

This isn’t a complaint about the Wild Card being a one game series. That horrible realization that the season is over is the same whether it comes after one game, seven games, or one hundred sixty-two–and, realistically, for most of us it came partway through the season.

No matter when it happens, it’s the same tire-iron to the kneecap. And it happens to all of us. Yes, even the fans of the eventual World Series winner. The season has ended; the sun has set on the British Empire; someday the sun will burn out. The glories of the past belong in the past. The World Series winners have one advantage over Ozymandias: as long as there is baseball, they’ll be remembered. But then, so will the losers. There’s never been a sport documented in as much detail as baseball. Arguably, if baseball ever forgets its past, it won’t be baseball any more.

But right now, those Pirates’ fans’ knees and those Yankees’ fans’ knees hurt just as much as the As’ fans’, the Phillies’ fans’, and all the fans of the other twenty-three teams that didn’t make the playoffs. Pull up a seat, folks. Have a drink. Grab a plate of turkey (brined in the tears of millions of disappointed fans).

We’ll get ’em next year.

8 thoughts on “Pull Up a Seat

  1. So far most of these play-in games have been underwhelming. Baseball thought it could catch lightning in a bottle after those three division races ended on the last day of the season. What they have ended up with is a gimmicky, unsatisfying bore.

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    • I have to disagree. Granted, thrilling is in the mind of the beholder, but I haven’t found the Wild Card games any less satisfying than any equivalent number of randomly-selected regular season games.

      Add the extended relevance for the teams on the edge of contention, and I think think they’re a net positive for fans. Which may or may not be the same thing as good for MLB, admittedly, but it hasn’t hurt the sport either.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Do I detect a preference for the Lovable Losers? Fair ’nuff. But I’ll stand by Monday’s call for the Blue Jays as the AL’s team to pull for.

      Though, granted, it’s not looking too good right now (4-1 in the 5th).

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      • The Toronto lineup is as good as it gets. It just seemed like every time I watched them this year, someone was acting out or being a hot dog. I found it harder to pull for them. Same (more) with Kansas City. As for Cubs, I have a history. Plus, it’s time. Right?

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      • But multiples of five and ten are so much more satisfying to the emotions! How about we pencil the Cubs in for 2033 (125 years), with 2058 (150 years) and 2108 (200 years) as fallback positions?

        (As for the Blue Jays, what could be more associated with baseball than hot dogs?)

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  2. When your baseball fandom goes back to the 1940s in New York, and you were a Giants fan, you never lose your Yankee schadenfraude. The Giants made it to 2 World Series during the ’50s (and lost one of those to the Yankees). After all those years of being mashed by DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, Rizzuto, Maris*, Woodling, Bauer, Reynolds, Raschi, Lopat, Ford, Fireman Joe Page, etc, it was a joy Monday night to watch a bunch of no-names come to the plate for the Yanks, then trudge back to the dugout, muttering. Especially to see the despised Alex flail helplessly at Strike 3, leaving one out to go in the ninth was a delight. So, that was one of my all-time favorite playoff games. It was worth having the Yankees make the postseason to see them so ignominiously dispatched in one game by a bunch of upstarts from Oil CIty. Go, Stroes.

    *Maris really shouldn’t have been on that list. Those great Yankee fans booed him because he had the nerve to beat out the fabled Mantle (who, next to Willie Mays, was just an overgrown Little Leaguer) for the home run crown in 1961. Maris shortly engineered a move to St. Louis, where the Cardinals fans appreciated him for the fine player and person he was.

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    • And you’ve nicely summarized why I, as a fan who doesn’t go back that far, still experiences Yankee schadenfraude.

      Far too many Yankee fans honestly believe that they will make the playoffs every year, and, having made the playoffs, that they’ll win the World Series. They’ve been conditioned to believe it, and when it doesn’t happen, their first thought isn’t “Wait’ll next year,” let alone “Huh, maybe I was wrong.” It’s “I was robbed! Who do I sue?” (Non-fans, if you think I’m exaggerating…I’m not.) There are exceptions to that rule, but I fear they’re mostly under the age of ten.

      So I’ll laugh at their frustration. But I’ll still offer them that seat at the table. Because everyone deserves turkey.

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