I’ve always kinda loved October. I grew up in California’s Central Valley, so after four or five months of ridiculous heat and smog; October felt like the beginning of the new year. Even now, there is a coolness, wetness and clearness to the air and the sky that no other time of the year seems to have.
But most of all, I love October because it has Major League Baseball’s postseason.
There is something about the Major League Baseball postseason that is unlike anything else. It may just be that Baseball is my favorite sport, and the annual drive to the World Series takes the inherent drama in any good baseball game and ratchets it up several notches.
And it’s an absolute part of Americana, isn’t it? For example, the most famous postseason in recent history was used as a huge huge plot point on this week’s Lost.
While some might still mourn when the winner of the National League just played the winner of the American League, I’m a child of the playoffs. The first year I started paying attention — The Amazin’ Mets! — was the first year that Baseball had divisions and a League Championship series. The beginning of the modern postseason. So the playoff system has always seemed natural to me.
And I’ll go on record right here and say that the only good thing that has ever come from Bud Selig’s reign, which has been characterized by the Year Without a World Series; the steriod blind eye/witch hunt and the denegration of the All-Star game, the only good thing about what that weak man has inflicted on the National Pastime, has been the wild card, and the extra round of games. “Anything can happen” goes the cliche, and quite often, anything does.
Stories emerge in postseason. They always have, of course, but with three rounds of the playoffs they go from short stories to novels. Or at least novellas. Pick a year, and you find a tale or two: just the past decade has diven us Barry Breaks Out; Red Sox Redemption; The Yankees Dynasty; Diamondback Aces Dominate; Cubs Fan Interference; White Sox Don’t Need Relievers and so forth and so on. This year, the story just might be Tigers Turnaround, but there’s still a long way to go.
And I’ll be watching, anyway I can. Which these days isn’t just TV and radio. During the first round, where the games are still played during the day, it means running MLB.com’s Gametracker at work, or checking the highlights on ESPN’s web site. Since I can’t just sequester myself in front of the TV, it also means surreptitiously checking the cell phone at dinner. Given all of the ways to track the games, it’s now more like the postmodern postseason.
The other fun part is figuring out who I am are going to root for each year. My team — lifelong, world without end amen — is the San Francisco Giants, who didn’t even have a prayer this year. Time to rebuild!! This means that I root against the Dodgers, of course, and it’s always fun to root against the Yankees. And I’ve always liked the Cardinals, Mets and A’s. That made the Divisional Series round pretty easy this year.
But now it’s time to declare. I would have picked the Mets over the Cardinals, except that my man Pedro is injuried, and it’s always fun to watch Albert Pujols bat. So in the NL, I’m rooting for the Cardinals, but it won’t break my heart if the Mets get in.
However, I’m rooting for the Oakland Athletics overall, despite the fact that, as I write this, they’re deep in a hole, having lost the first two at home. Doesn’t matter: except for that one time, I’ve always rooted for the A’s in the postseason. While Kirk is the lifelong A’s green-and-gold crazy in the ‘Loper crew; I figure that living several years in Oakland and working on their website in the late 1990s gives me some bona fides. So there.
It’s not all good: after all, not all of the games are broadcast on ESPN. Which means that the price I pay for loving Baseball these days is listening to the lunatic rantings of (SHUT UP! SHUT UP! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WILL YOU PLEASE JUST SHUT UP!!) Tim McCarver, watching the guys from Prison Break cavort in their box seats and wondering if Jeannie Zelasko and Kevin Kennedy have people actually writing for them, or if they just make it up after they’ve already said it.
Oh well, at least Fox broadcasts their postseason games in real HD, as opposed to what passes for their HD broadcasts during the regular season.