A week ago, the Cardinals were eliminated from postseason play. Their season came to an end on a long game winning home run off the bat of Travis Ishikawa that was delivered by Michael Wacha. The lights didn’t dim. They were shut off for the winter. When it happened, I felt anger, resentment and foolish noise crawled up inside me. I wanted to punch something or scream but when you have a kid in the house sitting right next to you who mimics everything you do, that’s not possible. So I decided to sit there and take it. Just digest the loss. Digest the fact that Cardinal baseball was finished for 2014. The hunt for Red October was done. My life would go back to normal. That’s right, my life wouldn’t consist of 24/7 Cardinal reporting and writing. I wrote 170 plus articles this year on the Cards. For three different websites. While there was love there, there was exhaustion and tireless energy spent putting into words what this team was doing to me.
Now that it’s over, I recognize that it’s just a game and for people like me, addicts, that realization isn’t easy to register or completely buy into. If it is just a game, why does it throw me for a loop for seven months a year?
Baseball is just a game. My wife, father and friends have told me this. Relax, it isn’t life. It’s a game. That is true. Every time the Cards lose or bow out, I understand what is really important and what lines shouldn’t be crossed.
Family is important. The people who fill your every day life. The people who care about you and put up with your Cardinal crazy obsessions for more than half the season. My wife is a special woman because she doesn’t mind baseball hogging the living room 47 inch flat screen 145 evenings a season.
This is why I don’t understand fans who rip Seth Maness’ fiance on social media and cause the player to come out and request a stoppage. I don’t get that. Baseball isn’t that important, right?
You know what’s more important than baseball? Clean clothes, dishes and a healthy son. A good marriage. Fresh air outside in my backyard is also more important at times than sweating through another Trevor Rosenthal save and calling for his head after a season where he nearly ties the single season saves record in St. Louis.
Baseball isn’t as important as the holidays, where families come together, smiles per minute go up a little and good times roll. In baseball, you never know what will happen on any given day. When you are around family, you know there will be laughter, fun, and maybe some heartbreak. Drama of the expected variety. Baseball doesn’t have to happen all year for this very reason. Our ordinary lives carry enough unpredictable events that a sport rest for a little while in order for our minds to have a vacation. I have written two articles in the past week on the Cards. For the six months before, I averaged 7 stories per week and sometimes more. It feels good to let go of my second wife for a few weeks before trade talks ramp up the cold weather excitement. As Game of Thrones promises, the winter is coming but as long as there is a bow tie wrapped around it, I am content to wait and respond.
Ordinary life carries enough punches for us to worry about. Baseball is played on a field and a field only. Life can happen anywhere.
Occasionally, they intersect. When my son got really sick six weeks after he was born, the Cards happened to be making their run towards their 11th World Championship. The sweet and bitter can share the same place on occasion. Most of the time, life happens whenever it wants.
Keep this in mind the next time you get seriously angry about the Cards losing. Think about it. While the Cardinals have been very successful at making the playoffs in their team history and have been especially strong since 2000, they have only won the World Series three times since I was born. That isn’t bad, but it’s three times in 32 years. Fans should be used to this team not winning it all. It doesn’t happen as much as we would like to think. 2006 and 2011 are recent but that just makes the expectations grow like seeds in a spring garden. Sports, like life, are full of disappointment.
Just remember what is important. Family, friends and work. The day after I wanted to smash a skid of coffee into a pole but suggested to myself that it wouldn’t go over well with my bosses. My reason would be my team lost last night and I am sure that wouldn’t save my job. I wanted to scream at the television after they lost but my kid would get upset so I just held it in. Baseball, and other sports, were designed to get into our system and make us feel something. Sometimes that feeling can twist around and tie a few knots in our stomachs.
I am here to remind you, and myself, that there are better things to come in the future. Bigger younger talent. Exciting seasons. More playoff action. In the mean time, put on the sweatshirt and grab an extra cup of coffee while you enjoy the colder weather. The mind can get a little rest before the frenzy begins again.
Thanks for reading and happy resting,