The Off Season Begins


There is life beyond baseball.

Honestly, there is.

I’ve been repeating that phrase over and over again for the past day or so. Sometimes I believe it. Sometimes I just feel sad. This, of course, is the late October let down that most hard-core fans go through right after the World Series. But this year it seems especially bad.

I was already feeling discouraged at the end of the regular season. I mean after all — the Mariners, you know. Our promising first half collapsed entirely after the All-Star break and from there it was an increasingly bleak slide to the end. It was all accompanied by talk about developing young prospects and building for the future. I hope that’s true. But there’s a pessimistic little voice in the back of my head that keeps whispering, “We’ve heard it all before.” So by the end of the regular season I was feeling pretty low. I needed something to reboot my faith.

And baseball, as if so often does, delivered.

The 2011 post season turned out to be one of the best in memory. It started even before the regular season ended with the incredible run made by both the Rays and the Cardinals to take the Wild Card spots away from the Red Sox and the Braves. I was actually at Safeco field the last night of the season, and since the game on the field was not very exciting, I spent a lot of time watching the out of town scoreboard. Both wild-card deciding games went into overtime, and when they finally broke in with video on the big scoreboard — announcing that both the Cardinals and the Rays had pulled off the impossible — everybody cheered

True, none of the teams that I thought I wanted to cheer for survived. The Rays, the Tigers, and the seemingly miraculous Phillies all went down. We were left with two teams that I really had no emotional investment in (except for thinking of the Rangers as the enemy). But we were also left with the teams that should have been there. And the series had everything. Offensive blow outs, controversial calls, incredible pitching performances. Until finally it came to Game Six — a game that had to be postponed for another day due to weather. From the beginning of that game it was clear that both teams were exhausted, almost spent. They racked up five errors between them in the first half of that game. But they just kept playing. This was one of those games we become fans and stay fans to see. It was two teams holding nothing back, spending everything they had long into the night. The Texas Rangers are arguably the best all around team in baseball. But the end the Cardinals, who barely clawed their way into the playoffs, were the most tenacious. They simply would not quite. And when they won game six in the bottom of the eleventh with a walk off homerun the incredible post season was pretty much done. After that game, the seventh game was anti-climactic. The Rangers were spent. The decision was made. What joy to have been watching it all along.

And now, the long dark off season.

There is life beyond baseball. For me there is writing — working on my novel — bird watching — getting some serious training done with my dog. Who knows, I might actually get that girl who was with me at the last regular season game to go out again. I mean, if the Cardinals can win it all, anything can happen.

And there’s the off season rebuilding. For the Mariners, I hope it includes some offensive power and a real DH. For me, it will include beefing up on some of the statistical analysis that I’d like to be able to bring to this blog. I came on board on the strength of my writing and passion for baseball, and I’m still working on the analysis. Maybe I’ll start by watching Moneyball again.

There is life beyond…. Well, April’s not that for away.