A pretty simple subject line, a pretty complicated relationship.
There is no doubt at all that a part of me really wants the Yankees to take it all the way this year, and do so in a spectacular, mind-blowing fashion, in a way that only my mother could really, thoroughly enjoy. Then, of course, there's the homer in me, thrilled for the Rangers' best-ever season and wanting them to prove once and for all that a scrappy team from Texas can and should win the World Series. There's the realist in me, too, that knows the Phillies have a nearly unbeatable pitching staff (their number 5 starter went 11-3 on the season! NUMBER FIVE) and the best record in baseball and that they will be frightening to behold in the post-season. And despite my energetic joy in the schadenfreude that is the Red Sox, a niggling part of me knows the danger in a team like the Tampa Bay Rays getting "hot" right at the end.
The good part of this is that the month of October will not be dull, and even when football inevitably disappoints, baseball will be waiting to enrapture, and there will be incredible moments of distraction from now until the last light dims on this crazy season.
Last weekend, Randy and I went to see Moneyball, and I do believe it was the best baseball movie in a really, really long time. Which is saying something, because I love baseball movies. There are maybe a handful that I wouldn't bother rewatching, if that. And for all that so much of Moneyball was fiction (the way Art Howe was portrayed, for instance), I felt like it was the truest version of the way the game is today. How it is about stats and percentages and money and all of those things, but how it is still, despite everything, a romantic's game. It is a game of superstition, of knocking on wood and wishing on stars. They've tried, those money people, to make irrelevant the small market teams and the goofy-looking kids with big dreams and small hopes. They've failed. And it isn't as if being "big market" or having a huge payroll makes you somehow invincible to romance - if anything, we've seen the reverse of that, since that's where some of the biggest dramas play out, and a little kid's affection for a team has less to do with who makes what and more to do with the vagaries of a long season. No one is invincible, everyone could be a heartbreaker or have a broken heart.
There was so much up in the air in the last week. Even as teams clinched division titles, the questions of home-field advantage, wild card teams, who would face whom were left almost totally undecided until the white-knuckle final innings in the 162nd game of the year. This is why we watch baseball. This is why we're fans. This is why October, as the chill creeps in and summer's end becomes a reality, is one of the best months of the year,
Some good reads:
Bill Simmons diary of Game 162, in which you get the full impact of the Boston Red Sox' fall from grace.
Rich Lowry on Schadenfreude Gone Wild.
A wonderful interview with Mariano Riviera in the NY Post.
Mike Dodd: Baseball's best night ever?
Ross Douthat: The Baseball Gods Have Spoken
WSJ: Five Minutes of Perfect Baseball
Eric Karabell podcast: Baseball is awesome
John Romano (St. Petersburg Times in Florida): This was baseball history; savor it