I have been battling a cold, a deadline, and extra time at work over the past two weeks. I was not terribly pleased with the outcome of the ALCS playoffs – as you can perhaps imagine – nor was I too interested in the World Series itself, as I have no horse in either the Giants or the Royals. I know a lot of Mariners fans were on the Royals side. There were even a few articles written in the local press about how Mariners fans should be “jealous” of the Royals, or that somehow the Royals have something in common with the Mariners, so Mariners fans should be happy about their ascent to the World Series – I must have read that particular article at least twice, trying to figure out the connection. Didn’t make it. But that’s not where I’m going with this…
I started out the year, technically speaking, at Camden Yards. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life as a baseball fan. Getting to see your second team in their natural environment is one thing; but when you’re afraid of flying, and then slip a disc two weeks before you have to leave, and aren’t sure if you’re even going to be able to walk to do the things you want to do on your vacation is completely another. But I was OK, and I was walking without the cane by the time I got to OPACY, and the first night I spent there, with the good tickets over the visitor’s dugout was one of the most fun days for me this year.
Then the Mariners season happened after I got back home, and things got even better! From a good start to sort of a scrappy middle and then a boost of energy after the All Star break, and then a run at a tie-breaker for the Wild Card, the Mariners made this year so much fun! We even made the Angels walk the plank in the last series, dominating them in an attempt to make that run, but it was not to be, because the Rangers were just terrible this year and couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain against Oakland.
But then? The Orioles were still going strong. They beat the Jays to clinch their playoff spot and win the AL East – a game that I watched from a pub by my house, nearly on the edge of my chair the entire time. And then they didn’t stop, plowing through the Detroit Tigers to face the Royals…where they played terribly and got swept for four games. The Royals were even cocky about it, former Oriole Jeremy Guthrie even wearing a shirt at a post-game presser that said “These O’s ain’t Royal”. Another player poked fun at Baltimore in another interview. And that pretty much sealed it for me. Maybe if the Royals had shown a bit of humility over their win, I would have been on their side. If they acted as if they’d been there before, and not been sore winners, I could have dealt with it and might have watched this World Series with less contempt. But they didn’t, and frankly I’m not really into them as a team to begin with – Jason Vargas or no Jason Vargas – so there you go.
And baseball is weird that way. It makes you think things and feel things that you wouldn’t think you would or could about the game. And while we’re on feelings, I need to talk about mine for Baltimore. You see, this is the first time in the short history of me being a baseball fan that I have ever gotten to feel these feelings about the game. I have followed the Orioles since 2008 because of Adam Jones. Getting to watch a team and players I am familiar with over the years get to that position in the season that the O’s just had was amazing. It was overwhelming to be able to watch these games with the kind of hope one has that one’s team might actually make it to the World Series, for real, because they are playing so well. And I can’t act like I’ve been there before, because I haven’t. It was, dare I pull a cliche’, sort of magical. After having this experience, I think that if the Mariners were in the thing up until the end, I might actually lose my mind. I want that experience, but I’m not sure if I could handle it. It is too awesome and too horrific to think of the stakes being that high. But I feel like it’s not that far off, so I’ll get my prescription heart medication and wait…
I do love baseball.
So I woke up this morning and, after realizing that I was too sick to be around other people and called in sick to work, saw this Tweet from Craig Calcaterra, who has been following the series while writing about it for Hardball Talk. And I realized that it’s over. Baseball is over this year. I am stuck in the momentum though; surely there must be another game coming? Today is just a Thursday break and then tomorrow we start another series, right? RIGHT?!?
No, we do not. What a terrible way to end such a great season.