A week or so ago, a friend of mine wrote a wonderful post reflecting on the 2014 MLB season, the drama of the playoffs, and the beauty of baseball. It was a wonderfully written retrospective that captured not only the feeling of sadness that comes with the end of each season, but also the feeling of joy that comes from having experienced it and knowing that there will be another. You should really read it.
may have probably haven’t noticed, I’ve been pretty absent on the ol’ blog and Twitter since the season ended. Actually, I’ve been pretty absent since the Tigers were swept out of the postseason by the Orioles. It’s been a strange time, this last month. Here’s the deal.
I’ve been in a downward spiral of melancholy since the Tigers were eliminated from the postseason.
In Débora’s post, she quotes an essay by A. Bartlett Giamatti titled “The Green Fields of the Mind.” It’s a beautifully depressing essay, and it hits the nail on the head. At the end of the season, I feel the same way Giamatti feels, the same way Débora feels. Baseball breaks my heart.
It breaks my heart because it was meant to, because it was meant to foster in me again the illusion that there was something abiding, some pattern and some impulse that could come together to make a reality that would resist the corrosion; and because, after it had fostered again that most hungered-for illusion, the game was meant to stop, and betray precisely what it promised.
But Débora is a better person than I am. Because while she was able to move past the heartbreak toward a place where allegiances to particular teams fall away and the beauty, the poetry of baseball is unclouded, I was not. I’ve been stuck in a quagmire of all the sad feels, and I don’t know how to get out.
Realistically, I don’t think anyone had the Tigers pegged to win the World Series after, like, May. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t sad to watch your team bow out. That was the first emotion I felt: sadness at the end of another season without a World Series title.
Next came confusion. How could a team with so much talent be so… inconsistent? Truth be told, this was frustration masked as confusion. I knew why they were inconsistent. I just didn’t want to believe it. They were inconsistent because their bullpen was awful. They were inconsistent because their defense was porous. They were inconsistent because their hitters were streaky; because their star player was hurt all season; because their rookie manager managed like a rookie. There are a million reasons why the Tigers didn’t get it done this year, and those of us who have watched them know the reasons all too well.
After being confused/frustrated (confustrated? confustrated.) for a few days, it got really ugly. Fuck the Tigers, I thought. FUCK ‘EM. They deserved to lose, buncha assholes. Swept? By the Orioles? COME ON. It’s hard to win too many baseball games with your tails between your legs, isn’t it? I am not proud of this time. Forgive me.
But then I stopped caring. The spiral spiraled so spirally that it spiraled right into apathy. I did not care about the Tigers. I did not care about baseball. I did not watch even one single pitch of another playoff game after the Tigers were swept, World Series included.
I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t muster up enough fucks to watch a team the Tigers manhandled all season go on an incredible, unlikely run. I couldn’t procure enough shits to give about the team that swept the Tigers out of the World Series in 2012 going on to win another championship. You win, baseball. I give up. Seeya never. I couldn’t even bring myself to get excited about next season.
Slowly, the pain is fading away. The trade rumors, the free agent signings… they’re making it better. There is hope for a new season that will come as surely as the spring. But in the back of my mind is the lingering feeling, almost a certainty, that the Tigers will disappoint me again.
I don’t want to be this way. I want to snap out of it, to return to a feeling of optimism. I want to feel like THIS YEAR IS THE YEAR again. It’s just taking me a while, and Lord knows that the winter isn’t much for fostering a renewed sense of faith. It might not happen until the spring.
The only thing that can cure the sadness baseball brings is, well… baseball.