Tag Archives: Baseball

October Madness & Why We Love One & Done

I’d just turned on my car after leaving a rec league basketball game when I heard the radio voice tell me, “And Jim Leyland appears headed to his second consecutive championship series.” This made sense to me. Scherzer had been utterly dealing and the A’s very well may have been over matched in the series.

Now mind you, at this point I knew nothing of the score, assuming the Tiger’s were rolling. It wasn’t until after the commercial break and half-way home did I learn it was still a 3-1 ballgame. “OK, the A’s managed to keep it close,” I thought.

Single. Double. Double. Parallel park. Traffic dodge. Bag toss. TV on.

I’d been yipping and shouting alone in my car – a pedestrian indeed gave me a weird look which I inherently returned because it was your typical SF transient doing something odd – as Oakland mounted its comeback.

Coco then singled in the game winner, the Coliseum erupted, and I danced in some manner. It was October baseball at its finest. Magic.

It reminded me of why we love this stuff.

I’m not particularly an A’s fan – I own their green hat and no other MLB paraphernalia – but is there anything better than a team with their back up against the wall and prevailing? Here was a team with no other option than to win and they did. A tale not specific to these A’s, just the universal appeal of fighting to survive.

Sure we all bitched about the one game playoff for the Wild Card slot but it gave us the one-and-done appeal. Win or go home. It’s like that 68 team basketball tournament in March.

Dammit I love this stuff.

I’ve long since fallen out of love with my first love of baseball; but I will never lose my love for October. Or March.

My favorite part in the terrific documentary Four Days in October about the Red Sox’ epic defeat of the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS is a snippet of an interview with Spike Lee. He’s asked about game seven and how this sorta stuff correlates to his job as a filmmaker (paraphrasing), “Movies are fake. This kind of drama you can’t make it up. It’s why sports are perfect.”

Indeed they are and when the work of a year winds down to a single pitch, swing, shot or to whatever other minutiae you’d like to break down the difference between winning and losing, it’s real and pure. As real as it gets.

And today we’ll be treated to it. A pair of games (A’s – Tigers, Giants – Reds) in which all four teams will be fighting for survival. It’s going to be a near impossible work day. It’s going to be fun.

Long live backs against walls. Long live one-and-done.

Oh, and the road to March begins tomorrow. No big deal.

A Touch of Kindergarten’s About Me & Football

My football career never took off because I’m a narcissistic, attention whore and so I became a pitcher. Later I would start a blog.

On pitching, it’s the embodiment of an egomaniac. The phrase “ball in his hands” stems from the position and there’s a reason that on a scorecard, the pitcher is position number one. He’s always center stage, the game doesn’t start until he’s ready, and all eyes are on him.

A blog is just a twenty-first century name for “house of narcissism.”

So back to the football. As a 6’2″ 210lbs (there’s a reason my brother refers to those days as “Fadam”) freshman in high school benching 65lbs and squatting 115lbs, Coach Brunenkant was excited to have an offensive lineman project. I was in his Beginning Weights class at 11am on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays and for a block period on Wednesdays and was getting the full sale to block in his offense.

I was not going to play O-Line. Ever.

Despite getting to school early and doing things like read books and talk to no one, I was longing for the limelight. To pitch in October, my team’s world series fate in my hands, I idolized the Jack Morris’ of the world. Gutsy performers who took the team on their back, willing them to victory.

And then I played freshman tennis because the baseball coach was too frightening.

Eventually I’d get over that – I’m still terrified of the man – and letter a few times on the diamond, winning two conference titles, garnering one state runner-up appearance (this guy hit a 2-run homer in extras to beat us that I still don’t think has landed) and a few individual awards. It was fun and I hadn’t had to block anyone.

So now that we’ve loosely made our way back to football and not once mentioned basketball (which begins in just nine days, how excited are you?), allow me the point.

Football, despite my lack of desire to play it, is glorious. It’s the best hangover cure since the breakfast burrito and plays the glorious role of the dangling carrot getting you to the weekend. Have you ever tailgated? There’s not much else to say.

It’s a game centered around fandom and I love that.

As they have for eons, people come together to cheer on the successes of others. Their adopted group driving towards a collective goal of victory. And I’m fascinated by the emotional attachment we can grow to the wins and losses of something we have absolutely no control over. It’s bass ackwards but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So now that we’ve covered my narcissism, shyness in high school, and why I love football, I’ll mention that I’m channeling the football spirit into some football writing over at Pacific Takes. I’m primarily covering Arizona’s season, the roller coaster that it is. I talk a lot about the program’s changing culture and I mention this Rodriguez guy a lot.

Here’s my latest where I talk about digging holes, ketchup, and burying trees.

On the basketball front, I’m giddy. The season is just around the corner and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been meandering around town with a good day buzz going and stopped to fully nerd out with someone in a “[insert college here] Basketball” shirt to talk upcoming season.

Let’s get ready cause it’s going to be a fun one.