By Jon Weisman
Almost all the time, I spend too much time worrying about my own house to worry about anyone else’s.
Then comes the time when the Giants are still playing baseball and the Dodgers aren’t, and the bitterness creeps in. Postseason baseball in San Francisco tolerable as a fluke, but as a recurring event, it’s brutal to suffer through. And it hasn’t been helped by the Cardinals flying on, oblivious to any concept of whose turn it is to bask in October’s magic glow.
I’ve watched about five pitches of the National League Championship Series, but so far, that’s been plenty. My love for hardball drama has been trumped by my disgust with these two teams.
Kansas City and Baltimore would appear to offer a refuge. Even more than the Dodgers, the Royals qualify as an “it’s their turn” team, while I still retain a soft spot for the Orioles from my time living in Washington D.C., when splendid Camden Yards was months old and they were the only baseball show around.
But even with the Royals, there are issues. If they make the World Series on their first postseason trip in 29 years, much less win the dang thing, I don’t know how I’ll feel. The Dodgers have played 43 postseason games since their last World Series. Kansas City has played six, with as few as two to go. It’s not quite as bad as the Marlins’ habit of only going to the World Series every time they just win at least 90 games, but it does strike me that even after a long exile from the playoffs, you should also have some postseason penance to pay. Just ask the Pittsburgh Pirates.
So I guess my rooting interest is with Baltimore, which has only been to four playoffs in the past 30 years and has gone even longer than the Dodgers and Royals since their last World Series.
But those last five paragraphs represent much more focus on other teams than I want to feel. I’m still in a place where baseball could just go into suspended animation and I wouldn’t mind, care or necessarily notice. I saw a headline Monday about a rainout in the American League Championship Series, and my shrug shrugged.
I’m still having trouble letting go of the 2014 Dodgers.
Six days after elimination, while I walked my kids to school, a neighbor made a completely conventional and harmless joke, asking me if I’d seen the ad the Dodgers took out in the paper. I thought he meant the full-page thank you to the fans in Sunday’s Times sports section, but no, it was “the classified ad looking for a relief pitcher.” Those who might accuse me of having no sense of humor would have reveled in my edgy reaction: I wasn’t ready to laugh it off. Still bitter.
Later in the day at work, someone brought up the dates of the Cy Young (November 12) and Most Valuable Player (November 13) award announcements. And my first thought was a worry: Would Dodger fans have had enough time to process Clayton Kershaw’s National League Division Series defeats to savor the well-deserved honor or honors that Kershaw will receive? How I hope the sniping is diminished by then.
And then my thoughts return to the Giants and the Cardinals — I can’t help it. Why in the Giants’ last NLDS game was Joe Panik able to score a third run on a wild pitch, but not in the Dodgers’ last NLDS game, Andre Ethier was fooled into an out? Why did Madison Bumgarner make it to the eighth inning against the Cardinals and not Kershaw? Why is Yadier Molina having oblique trouble this week and not last?
Why them and not us?
Keep in mind that I was raised by a Chicago native and Cubs fan, so any feelings of self-pity are immediately countered by “Why you and not them?” I tell my kids not to fret over other people’s successes: “Your job is to be the best people you can be.” And then you make the best of wherever that takes you. Just relive the joy and let go of the sorrow.
But it’s hard, man. It’s hard.