When the game-winning run crossed the plate for the Twins on Tuesday, here's how I felt in the following moments. "He felt something cold and soulless enter him like another being and he imagined that it smiled malignly and he had no reason to believe it would ever leave." (Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses) A little hyperbolic perhaps, but a true enough representation.
Now, I’m finally in a frame of mind to put a coda to this season. Well, maybe not all the way there, but coping well enough to write without spewing incomprehensible garbage all over the place. Yes, I believe I do have what psychologists might term an “unhealthy emotional relationship” with Tiger baseball. Admitting you have a problem IS the first step you know. I may yet determine that abstinence is the only treatment for addiction, and begin following rhythmic gymnastics or race-walking. Twirling ribbons and gait-policing is where it’s at.
Yesterday was black, and I had to stay away from all media. All I saw after the end of Game 163 was the interview with Orlando Cabrera. Then I had to go underground for a little bit. I didn’t see any post-game pressers, didn’t watch one minute of ESPN, banned reading of newspapers and blogs, and most definitely stayed far away from sports radio. A friend let me vent a little via text. Thanks for saving innocent people from blasts of misdirected rage. Last evening, I gingerly tested the waters by clicking on the Tigers web site, and reading a couple blogs—in small doses, mind you.
I’ve always maintained that I’m not superstitious. That goes out the window as of right now. I’ve now twice had post-season tickets go unused. In 2006, I had tickets to World Series Game 6. I still break out into a pathetic blend of maniacal laughter and sobs when I think about that. This year, I foolishly purchased ALDS Game 3 tickets off the Tiger web site the day they went on sale. Never again. I vow to scalp tickets at outlandish prices from now on and stop jinxing my team. You have my word on that.
On Tuesday, some irrevocable commitments kept me from watching the game right at 5:00, so I DVRed the game and started watching it around 6:00. At that point, I had to put myself in a bubble and stay away from the computer and not read the texts that kept arriving at my cell phone. I had no idea the journey I was in for. I kept thinking I’d catch up to real time at some point. Then panic set in as I actually had to contemplate that I might run out of “tape” since I had set the recording for a total of six hours.
As to the game itself, it was incredible. I don’t take any issue with my team or its effort. Both teams battled like Titans. MLB must’ve been giddy over this contest.
Whining about the officiating is strictly verboten here. I saw plenty the Twins could have argued over in Marsh’s strike zone, and they did get a little chippy here and there. I will say that I believe he should have appealed on the Inge HBP, because his sight line was not good on the play. But to point to any one play and hang the game on it? No way. We had our chances and could not come through, creating a fitting microcosm of our whole season neatly wrapped up in the final game. I hate excuses.
I will call out Jim Leyland for leaving Rodney out there in the 12th. I don’t care if he asked for the ball. He had performed his job, and very well, but had already pitched 2 2/3 innings. No way he goes back out there. Sure, he’s the best person to close out a game, but he stops being that best person after he’s thrown 48! pitches. It’s not like we were completely out of options in the bullpen and were ready to start warming up a position player. I realize some of those options were not what you’d want for the situation at hand. Still.
The main source fueling my anger is our stretch-run play. Non-play is more like it. It was so horrific the only descriptor I have is schrecklich. Sorry to go other language on you, but that’s the best expression of my angst. We lost 4 of 6 to the Sox in the last week of the season. When the Sox acquired Jake Peavy in the final moments before the July 31 trade deadline, I knew it was going to haunt us. Everyone shot me down, saying “Peavy’s injured,” “Who knows when he’ll pitch again.” Well, he didn’t come back in time to help Chicago’s playoff cause, but he sure put a crunk in ours. Two shutouts. Blanked us twice in week’s time. GAHHHHH!Maybe my anger is just a blustery front to cover up the brokenness inside. Maybe I need to face up to it and go have a little cry in a dark room somewhere, so I can come out and let go. Life’s hard without baseball.