Meaningless?

Here we are a week into the preseason and I have yet to watch a complete game. Not by choice, I might add. It’s been a combination of my work schedule, broadcasts having technical difficulties, and poor timing.

I also have yet to watch any Mariners baseball. The blame there is solely on Mother Nature: the only televised game so far was rained out.

“So?” I hear someone saying. “They’re only meaningless games.”

Ah, but they’re not. It’s time we got rid of that phrase, because there isn’t any such critter as a meaningless game.

Even leaving aside their meaning to those of us who have been bereft since November, preseason games have plenty of purpose and masses of meaning.

(And that’s true of any sport, not just baseball.)

Sure, preseason games don’t count in the standings. They have no impact on the playoffs and championships. Except…

Except that those games are where we–fans, managers, and players–begin to see how our team is shaping up. Who’s the early surprise, good or bad? Who needs more seasoning in the minors (or in certain other sports, who never should have left college early?) Who’s going to make the team, who’s starting the season in Triple A (or in those other sports, who’s getting cut and starting the season in their backup profession?)

Then there are those other “meaningless games”. You know: the ones late in the season between two teams who were eliminated from the playoffs weeks ago.

Still some meaning there. The teams’ records may be dismal, but individual players have personal records to pursue. A late season surge might mean a starting job next season–or a trade to a team that has a chance to contend. A poor showing in those “meaningless” games could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary arbitration. And that’s not even considering the teams’ draft positions.

Plenty of meaning, wouldn’t you say?

What else? I’m not going to argue with the people who thinks all sportsball games are meaningless. That opinion can’t be altered through logic. Leave them in their atheistic hell.

And besides, nobody holding to that position is doing commentary for games or reporting on them in the media. Those are the folks we need to convince. Next time your local newscaster talks about a meaningless game or your broadcaster mumbles something about “playing out the string”, shoot ’em a note of protest.

There are no meaningless games. Just meaningless phrases.

A Test of Character

The universe just keeps getting stranger.

Latest oddity? Reports accumulating that Alex Rodriguez wants to buy the New York Mets.

Yes, those Mets. The ones he never played for, but reportedly grew up rooting for.

Yes, that A-Rod. The one who played for the Mets’ crosstown rivals.

Oh, yes, and also the one who was suspended for more than an entire season for his role in the BALCO scandal.

Yes, that scandal. The one involving widespread cheating in the form of performance enhancing drugs.

Why is such a purchase even a possibility?

At the very least, it smacks of tone deafness, with MLB currently mired in sign-stealing scandals–it’s not going to end with the Astros, after all, and most likely not with the Red Sox either.

Of course, tone deafness seems to be Commissioner Manfred’s go-to position: from calling the World Series trophy a mere hunk of metal, through declaring that doing away with minor league teams is good for baseball while simultaneously fighting every attempt to pay minor league players a salary that isn’t an insult, and going back to his insistence that “pace of play” is baseball’s only problem.

It’s an interesting break with tradition for a sport that’s historically been concerned with its image–Black Sox Scandal, anyone? How about Pete Rose? Or even the Hall of Fame rules around “character, integrity, and sportsmanship”?

Barring a surprise return to the playing field, A-Rod will be on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2022. And he’ll almost certainly wind up in the same limbo as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. In a just world, his bid to buy the Mets would also limbo down.

Has anyone at MLB headquarters pointed out that the Astros’ self-inflicted miseries are the result of a team culture that encouraged cheating*. A-Rod received significant discipline for his own venture into cheating.

* Yes, stealing signs is a legal, expected part of the game. But using mechanical or electronic assistance is specifically against the rules of baseball. Breaking the rules to gain an advantage is, by definition, cheating. Whether or not “everyone is doing it.”

Maybe he is a changed man and would never countenance cheating of any sort on his team. But is there any solid evidence of that? Certainly he hasn’t become a tireless crusader for integrity in baseball. I don’t even recall seeing a statement from him taking a position on sign-stealing.

By not takeing a public position on the possibility of A-Rod buying the Mets, MLB as a whole and the individual team owners–who will vote on whether to approve a Mets sale–are coming across as solely concerned with the dollar value of their franchises. More money grubbing from the same folks who just proposed to expand the playoffs.

Erosion

Winter is officially over: pitchers and catchers begin reporting for Spring Training today. The first games are a mere week away.

And, of course, we’ve got our usual controversies over possible changes to the game.

Earlier this week, we heard that MLB is considering expanding the playoffs to fourteen teams. I’m dubious–it seems like a clear money grab, rather than a way to increase “excitement”.

And really, do we need four teams who’ve been hovering around .500 to make the playoffs? If the system had been in place last year, the final four teams in the playoffs would have been Cleveland (.574), Boston (.519), the Mets (.531), and Arizona (.525). In 2018, we’d have gotten Tampa Bay and Seattle–giving us every AL team over .500 in the playoffs–and St. Louis and Pittsburgh. Let us not forget that the Pirates finished the 2018 season at 82-79, barely respectable.

Reports that MLB will be using “robot umpires” to call balls and strikes in Spring Training are apparently overblown. A few games will have the technology in place, but only for hardware and software testing. And a good thing, too. It’s clear from the results of last season’s extended trial run in the Atlantic League that there are still plenty of problems to deal with before it can be considered ready for the majors.

Even when–and it is when, not if; the commissioner has made that crystal clear–MLB decided robo-umps are ready for their call-up, I expect an approach similar to what we’re seeing with the pitch clock: a couple of years of use in the minors, accompanied by intense negotiations with the players’ union.

It’s a shame, really, that the idea is even being considered. It’s just a further erosion of the umpires’ authority.

I blame TV.

Nobody ever expected to change an umpire’s call in the fifties. They might admit to having made a mistake, but the call would stand, regardless. Bad calls were expected and good teams overcame them.

Nobody ever thought umpires were perfect, but instant replay proved just how fallible they were. That MLB held out against using instant replay to review calls as long as they did is to their credit.

But then they screwed up and moved the review off the field. This is one place where the NFL got it right: reviews are done on the field by the same arbiters who made the initial call. That keeps the responsibility and the authority in one place.

Baseball needs umpires. Without someone on the spot, enforcing the rules, baseball isn’t a sport. At best it’s a game, and at worst, it’s a bunch of guys throwing a ball around.

Someone who’s only present to act as a mouthpiece for decisions made somewhere else isn’t an umpire. That’s called a figurehead, and baseball doesn’t need figureheads, no matter what Commissioner Manfred thinks.

Next time you go to a game, spare a few seconds to appreciate those guys in blue while you still can.

And remember: We Are Umpire.

HOF 2020

Winter is coming to an end. As the MLB app on my phone reminds me, the first pre-season games are less than a month away*. It’s unclear from MLB’s website when we’ll get the first broadcast game, but history suggests it’ll be no later than February 23.

* Most of the earliest games–three of the four on February 21–are, as usual, pros versus colleges, but there is one game between two professional teams. Thanks to the Rangers and Royals for starting things off. I’m confident it won’t be a World Series preview and that most of the players won’t make the Opening Day rosters, but it’ll still be official baseball.

A reminder: there’s no World Baseball Classic this year, but there will be one next year, so we’ll get a chunk of press about the qualifying tournaments. Call it extra baseball.

There are still trades and free agent negotiations going on, but it’s not too late to get in on the annual weeping and wailing over your favorite team’s off-season. Any dedicated fan can find something to complain about–and we do.

But if that’s not your style, how about the Hall of Fame voting?

I’ll be honest here: I haven’t been paying that much attention. Last year was all about whether Edgar would make it in. Once he did, I started thinking about other things. Some of them even had nothing to do with baseball.

But I can’t let the voting go completely unremarked.

The big question leading up to the announcement of the results was whether Derek Jeter would be the second player to be elected unanimously.

Fortunately for my equilibrium, he wasn’t. Missed it by one vote. Thank you, anonymous BBWAA member.

To be clear, I consider Jeter absolutely worthy of the Hall of Fame. I felt the same way about Mariano Rivera last year. This is going to be an ongoing issue (though I don’t see any of next year’s candidates making a serious run at a unanimous election). Now that it’s happened once, it will happen again. But I won’t be reconciled to it until a non-Yankee pulls off the feat.

Curt Schilling added another ten percentage points to his total. If he can keep his mouth shut through the presidential elections, he’ll probably be elected next year.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens moved up slightly, but that’s probably more reflective of a smaller pool of voters than a sign of changing opinions. I doubt they’ll squeak over the bar in 2021 or 2022.

Sympathy votes? Of course there were! One each to Rauuuuuuuul, J.J. Putz, Brad Penny, and Adam Dunn. Two each for Cliff Lee and Eric Chavez. Paul Konerko, Jason Giambi, and Alfonso Soriano also collected a few votes. I don’t think those three qualify as sympathy votes–each of them can make at least vaguely legitimate cases for election.

Disappointingly, my prediction that Chone Figgins would totally rock the sympathy vote tally was only correct in the Charlie Brown sense. I think I’ll stop making predictions at the bottom end of the ballot.

Looking at the potential ballot for 2021, I don’t see any sure bets for election. As I noted above, I think Curt Schilling has a good chance. Omar Vizquel should continue to gain votes, but probably not enough to hit 75% that quickly. Manny Ramirez will probably also move up, but there’s no way he’s going to add more than forty percent of the voters in one year.

Winter Again

And so another season has come to its end. My Mariners pajamas have been packed away until spring* and The Time of No Baseball is upon us.

* Well, they’re in the hamper, waiting for Saturday, our usual laundry day. No, this is not the first time they’ve been washed since April. What a disgusting thought. They generally go into the wash when the Ms get stuck on a losing streak. They got washed a lot this year.

But before we say goodbye to baseball (hasten, oh ye Winter Meetings) I need to give the scorecard on my playoff picks. As you probably guessed, it’s not a pretty picture. My goal is 70% accuracy; my historical mark is closer to 50%. This year did not showcase one of my better outings.

Three out of five in the American League isn’t bad. Typical, even. Thanks to the Yankees, Astros, and Athletics for making it happen.

Over in the National League, however, I barely avoided a shutout. Much as I hate to thank the Dodgers for anything, they were my only score.

That’s a measly 40% across both leagues.

Nor did I do much better once we got into the playoffs.

I correctly put the Yankees in the AL championship and called their failure to make the World Series. Other than that, though…

I predicted the World Series would run to six games. So much for that notion. I’m betting that nobody predicted a seven game series with every game won by the road team. Never happened before–in any sport–and may never happen again. That’s not a prediction, by the way, just a gut reaction.

Far from strolling past the Padres on their way to the championship, the Dodgers went down in flames against the Nationals.

Meanwhile, the Astros had the best record in baseball, allowing them to avoid the Wild Card game and my predicted embarrassing loss to the As. Didn’t help them in the World Series, though.

That–to use a traditional cliche–is why they play the games.

All in all, I might as well have been in Mudville.

Clearly, my methodology needs some work. I’ve considered delaying my predictions, thinking that picking the teams a week into the season would give me a longer baseline and improve my accuracy.

Had I done so this year, my AL picks would have been the Yankees, Twins, Mariners, Blue Jays, and Athletics. In the NL, I would have gone with the Dodgers, Phillies, Mets, Brewers, and Cardinals. That would have improved my overall score to 50%, yes. But I still would have picked the Dodgers to go all the way.

And, as you may have noticed, the Astros wouldn’t even have made the list.

Somehow that doesn’t seem like the kind of statistical breakthrough I’m looking for. I’ll have to consider my options more deeply.

At least I’ve got something to do during the next five months of baseball-free nights.

2019 Playoffs

Already know who you’re rooting for in the MLB playoffs this year? Or totally lost to the One True Faith? You might as well skip this post. Come back Wednesday–I may have another post this week–or Friday for the cats. The rest of you, gather around.

Sure, you can watch the playoffs without rooting for anyone. But where’s the fun in that? This post aims to help you choose a rooting interest, whether you want to pick a single team to follow throughout the month or pick a new team in each series.

Again, this isn’t about picking a winner. I’ve made those predictions, and I won’t revisit them until November. (As a reminder–Spoilers, Darling!–I picked the Dodgers to win it all. There’s still time to call Vegas.)

If you’re new to this blog, you may be surprised to hear there are rules for choosing a rooting interest. But why should something so important be left to whim and chance?

Rules for Rooting, 2019 edition

  1. Unless it’s the team you follow during the regular season, you must not root for any team that has been promoted as “America’s Team” or otherwise held up by its owners and/or the media as the ultimate expression of the sport. If you do root for one of these teams, this is a great time to reconsider your life choices.
  2. You should not root for a team from your own team’s division.
  3. That said, you should root for somebody from your own league. Crossing the league boundary without a really good excuse is in bad taste.
  4. Possession of team merchandise with sentimental value OR a history of following a favorite player from team to team trumps Rules Two and Three. It does not override Rule One. Nothing overrides Rule One.
  5. Teams with a record of recent futility or legitimate “misfit” credentials get bonus points in the decision process. A record of futility means multiple losing seasons or a lengthy stretch without a playoff appearance and/or title. What constitutes legitimate misfittery is up to you. Be honest with yourself.
  6. All other rules notwithstanding, you are always free to root for the Indians, holders of a seventy season World Series drought.

That said, rooting for the Indians this year would be an exercise in Zen Futility, since they’re not in the playoffs. But I digress.

Since I’m writing as much as possible of this post ahead of time, we’ll start with the National League, where the teams were set by the middle of last week.

The National League playoff teams are Atlanta, Washington, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles.

As always, Rule One applies to the Braves, thanks to Ted Turner. It also applies to the Nationals (for obvious reasons) and the Dodgers.

We’ll award a futility point to the Brewers, whose fans have now been waiting for a World Series title for half a century.

Dodgers, Nationals, and Braves followers can take the next couple of days for reflection. Fans of the other NL East and West teams have an obvious pick in the Brewers. And, much as I hate to encourage violation of Rule Two, it’s a lesser offense than breaking Rule One. So those of you who usually cheer for the Cubs, Reds, or Pirates should also be rooting for Milwaukee.

Now, on to the American League, where the playoff teams weren’t settled until Friday. The Junior Circuit has given us New York, Minnesota, Houston, Oakland, and Tampa Bay.

Fortunately for my sanity, there’s only one AL playoff team subject to Rule One–the Yankees, of course.

We’ll give the Athletics and Twins a futility point each, since their World Series droughts are at twenty-nine and twenty-seven years, respectively. (Last year, I gave the As a misfit point, primarily because of Khris Davis’ four-year streak of hitting exactly .247. That string ended this year–he finished at .220–so no misfit point for the As.)

Yankees boosters, go meditate on your media-enabled sins.

Non-playoff affiliated fans, your guidance looks like this: If you’re normally in the AL East or Central, you should looking west to cheer for the Athletics. If you’re from the West Division, the Twins are your crew. Simple, huh?

And, as always, if you don’t normally follow baseball–whether because you’ve lost the True Faith or never been properly entered in the rolls of the Faithful–you can exercise your free will. You can choose your team based on geography, following the guidelines above. Or take the easy way out and root for the As. Or exercise your masochistic side and root for the Indians.

And to reiterate: Even though I’ve predicted the Dodgers to win the Series, you can not root for them unless they were your team through the regular season. Even if you’ve got money down. Rule One is absolute.

Hopeless

I complain a lot* about work preventing me from watching baseball.

* In the real world. I try not to bitch at those of you I only communicate with electronically. But sometimes I gotta.

Sunday, for the first time ever, I was grateful to work for making it impossible for me to watch the Mariners’ play.

It’s no secret that the Mariners can’t win against Houston, at least not since the Astros switched to the American League. Even when Houston sucked, they could count on picking up ten or so wins against hapless Seattle. This season has been no exception: with two games against Houston remaining, the Mariners have an astonishing 1-16 record.

And it all came to a head Sunday night in Texas.

After three innings–three!–the Mariners were down 13-0. (Remember that number. It’s significant.) The Astros added another eight runs before the game was over.

The most frustrating part of the whole affair? Seattle managed exactly one hit and no walks. That’s right. Had it not been for Shed Long’s second major league home run, the Mariners would have been on the losing end of a perfect game.

Sure, if he hadn’t hit it, things might have gone differently. That’s not the point. By the time Long put the Ms on the board, those fans unlucky enough to watch the game had seen ten batters accomplish nothing. And after Long’s hit, the fans watched another seventeen batters do nothing worthwhile.

That’s frustration, concentrated, bottled, and ready for sale. Not that you could find any buyers, but that’s beside the point.

You can’t hope for a rally if nobody gets on base. You need some kind of a tag to attach your dreams to.

A little while back, Jackie talked about doing the math. No amount of math could have helped this one. Sure, the Mariners would only have needed five grand slams to tie the game and force extra innings (where History suggests they would have lost anyway, this being Houston), but you can’t even hope for a grand slam when your batters are whiffing like Little Leaguers.

Yes, the Astros beat Jackie’s Orioles 23-2 earlier this season. But the Os managed six hits in that game. Six! And three walks. That’s nine base runners. An average of one an inning. Enough to build a dream on.

I’m not trying to one-down the Orioles here. Their current record (46-98) leaves plenty of room for depression. And both teams have had some good times this year.

Remember back in April when the Mariners looked like the best team in baseball? And remember those two glorious days in June, the 28th and 29th, when the Orioles set a major league record by beating the Indians 13-0* twice in a row? Wonderful days, those.

* Like I said, thirteen has significance.

But past glories only sustain you so long. Optimism needs a cause.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not having a religious crisis. I’m still watching all the games my work schedule permits. I’ll still be watching the Ms next season.

It’s just…I’d like to be able to say “Just wait until next year!”

Come on, guys. You’ve got seventeen games left–including three against the Orioles. Show me something. Something I can use to pin a little hope on.

Hope that I’ll be watching “Because victories!” not “Because baseball!”

Good Times

The good times never last forever. That’s a universal law–just ask any Warriors fan. It’s true in baseball, and it’s true in technology.

Since I wrote about the winning ways of the Mariners, Orioles, and Giants, the three teams have gone a collective 3-10. It’s not hard to see why: in those thirteen games, they’ve scored 43 runs and given up 86. With run differentials like that, it’s a minor miracle they’ve won any games. (Kudos to the Orioles, who contributed two of the three victories.)

There are around fifty games left in the season. The Mariners are trying to figure out their next few seasons, the Orioles are looking for ways to earn some self-respect, and the Giants are hanging onto a small chance of making the playoffs.

Meanwhile, we’ve recently gotten a lesson in how the universal law applies in the wonderful world of technology.

Maggie’s much-beloved cell phone passed away. Maggie refuses to give up a physical keyboard, so she clung resolutely to her BlackBerry Q10.

Let it be noted that I’m not casting aspersions on her choice. I see the appeal of a physical keyboard and still fondly recall my RIM 750, from back in the days when pagers were state-of-the-art. Where we differ is that I’m not willing to put up with the compromises necessary to have that keyboard.

Those compromises are on the software side of the equation. BlackBerry is, if not the only company still making phones with keyboards, the only one with any actual US distribution. Their latest phones run almost-stock Android–although updates can be erratic–but the Q10 runs BlackBerry’s proprietary operating system.

That, naturally, makes it hard to find software to do some very basic things. Like, for example, back up your data.

There is, or was, a Dropbox client for the Q10. It was hard to install, confusing to configure, and usually refused to run automatically. These are not desirable traits in software you want to back up something as precious as years of cat photos.

Then there are all those years of collected emails, text messages, and the contacts that go with them. Turns out that even though the Q10 requires you to use a GMail account for setup, it only uses GMail for transport. Received emails and contacts live on the device. Contacts can be synced to Google, but it’s a manual process.

Want to see if anything has been backed up to your user account on the carrier’s system? Better hope you don’t have Sprint: they require a two-step authentication process that involves sending a text message to your phone. You know, the phone that doesn’t work.

The lesson here is NOT that BlackBerry sucks or that Sprint is horrible.* It’s not even that one should avoid unusual systems or devices.

* Ironically, it was exactly here that Firefox crashed, taking Windows down with it and forcing me to turn the power off without saving anything. Fortunately, I had just saved two minutes before, so I didn’t have much to recreate.

The lesson is that the good times will end. They’ll be back eventually, sure. But they’ll return much faster if you prepare for them. In baseball, build up your farm system. In computers, backup.

Backup everything. Frequently. Make it part of your daily routine. If you can’t do an automatic backup, do it manually.

Ite, missa est

Which Road?

One can win with brilliance, dogged determination, or sheer luck.

As usual, all three methods are on display in MLB these days.

Consider the bargain basement–or, considering what some of the teams’ Injured Lists look like, maybe it’s the scratch and dent sale.

At the All-Star Break, there were five teams with records under .400: Miami, Toronto, Detroit, Kansas City, and Baltimore. (Seattle scored a Dishonorable Mention at .415 and San Francisco, at .461, was looking almost respectable.)

The picture hasn’t changed much. The bottom-dwellers list is now Toronto, Miami, Kansas City, Baltimore, and Detroit. (Kudos, though to Baltimore for the biggest improvement on the list, going from .303 to .336, putting them in a position to challenge KC for the third-worst record in baseball.) Meanwhile, Seattle has moved up to a staggering .423. That’s especially impressive when you consider that they lost eight of their first ten after the break.

And then there are the Giants, who are now sporting an honestly respectable .509 record with a legitimate shot at the Wild Card.

Which brings us back to where this post started.

The Mariners’ gain is the product of a six-game winning streak against, well, Texas and Detroit. As of today, Texas is sitting precisely at .500–not exactly the mark of a powerhouse. And, indeed, Seattle has won three of the five games the two teams have played since the break. Most of their gain, in other words, has been the result of a fortunate schedule.

Baltimore, on the other hand, has played 18 games since the break. They’ve gone nine and nine against Tampa Bay, Washington, Boston, Arizona, Anaheim, and San Diego: six teams with a combined .517 record.

That doesn’t look like luck. Sure, the truism about any team being able to beat any other team on some random day holds. But watching several of the Orioles’ games didn’t look like luck either. It looked like a team that knew it was the underdog, but was determined to make a stand. Winning half your games is usually a Pyrrhic victory, but when you start out at .303, a victory is a victory.

While Seattle has been lucky and Baltimore has been dogged, San Francisco has been, if not brilliant, at least well-polished. Fourteen and five isn’t solely luck. Yes, they’ve played the Mets and Rockies, but they’ve also played the Brewers, Cubs, Padres, and Phillies, all teams at or above .500. There’s been some determination in there: last night’s win against Philadelphia was their first after losing seven straight in Philadelphia. Most of all, though, the Giants have been succeeding with the fundamentals: well-timed hitting, good-to-excellent pitching, and acceptable fielding.

Different routes, but when it comes to wins, it’s all about the destination, not how you get there. Just ask the fans in San Francisco, Baltimore, and Seattle.

Baseball Hiatus

By the time this post goes live, I’ll be well into my sixth consecutive day with no baseball. A little taste of winter in mid-summer.

Much as I’d like to blame it all on MLB, I have to take some of the blame myself. Sure, it’s partly because of the All-Star Break, but as I’ve noted in the past, the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game itself are acceptable “almost baseball” events. No, it’s just been an unfortunate conglomeration of poor timing.

Friday we took in our annual minor league game. The ballgame itself was painful, at least for those of us rooting, however nominally, for San Jose. The Giants gave up four runs in the first three innings and never mounted a serious threat of their own. Nor did they keep their opponents* off the bases for the rest of the game, though they did keep them from scoring any more runs.

* The Visalia Rawhide, and isn’t that a name to conjure with?

The game ran long, pushing the fireworks–of course there were fireworks–out past ten. They were worth the wait, though. Proof that a massive aerial bombardment is not a requirement for a spectacular show.

Which reminds me: I need to take back something I said last year. I suggested that MLB should reintroduce the beer batter at the major league level to increase audience engagement. I said, “half-priced soda isn’t going to satisfy anyone when the beer batter comes up in the eighth or ninth.”

I hereby admit I was wrong about that. The San Jose Giants switch to apple juice after beer sales close, and the fans were chanting “Juice! Juice! Juice!” just as enthusiastically as they had earlier chanted “Beer! Beer! Beer!” And yes, sales of juice did jump dramatically when the beerjuice batter struck out in his final at-bat.

Whatever else you can say about the game–and there is a lot I could say, but I’ll spare you–it didn’t lack for engagement.

Anyway, there were ballgames Saturday and Sunday, but a combination of visiting with friends and family and work prevented me from watching. And more of the same prevented me from watching the Home Run Derby Monday or the All-Star Game Tuesday.

No games scheduled Wednesday, and today there’s only a single game–an inter-Texas match-up between the Rangers and Astros. The rest of the MLB teams start playing again tomorrow, but I’ve got a social engagement that will prevent me from watching more than a couple of innings of any of my teams’ games. More sociability will interfere with my viewing Saturday and Sunday. Monday, I may be able to catch part of the Giants/Rockies double-header, and Tuesday I’ll finally be able to settle in and wince at a Mariners’ game.

So, rather than face a ten-day hiatus, I’ll probably watch the game tonight, despite having no particular interest in the outcome. I’m fairly sure total mutual annihilation isn’t a possibility, after all.

Wouldn’t it be a kick in the pants if the game gets rained out? The forecast says there’s only a 20% change of rain, but the universe can be an evil place.