Friday, September 25, 2015

New York, New York

One of the (many) casualties of putting this blog on the back burner, as I've devoted more and more time to writing original/marketable/publishable fiction, has been my traditional commentary on Major League Baseball and the attendant tribalism in my house. In fact I haven't mentioned baseball at all this season, not the AL East in specific or any other element in any context. Partly that's due to not very many posts at all about anything, and partly it's due to the fairly subdued intake of baseball around our homestead this time around. We didn't make any ballpark pilgrimages this year, which is just the way it goes; some years we do, some years we don't. The Orioles are having an up-and-down season, sitting at exactly .500 as of today. The Yankees seem to be suffering something of a post-Jeter hangover, also up-and-down which makes it feel like they're doing worse than they are. They're the first wild card in the AL, and pretty safe in that spot. And they're not that far behind the Blue Jays, who are on top of the AL East, but they cannot close the gap. So no crazy win streaks, or players on hitting streaks or vying for batting titles or rookies of the year or whatever, nothing generating buzz and excitement. Nothing to blog about, in other words.

I can't even get into a full-throated frenzy about the Red Sox being dead last and their fans enduring a miserable losing campaign. They've already been eliminated from the post-season and any day now (granted, there's only like ten games left) it's going to reach the point where it will be mathematically impossible for them to have a winning season even if they run the table. Sure, it's always a source of mean-spirited comfort to watch a hated rival suffer, but even I wouldn't characterize it as a spectacular flame-out in Boston, just mediocre under-performing.

I don't think anyone seriously expects the Yankees to make it very far in the post-season, so I am tempering my expectations accordingly. If I can't have my beloved Bronx Bombers winning the World Series, I can at least take solace in the fact that we might get some different teams besides the usual suspects in the mix. At this point it's not only possible but reasonable to envision a championship best-of-seven between Kansas City and Pittsburgh. And that right there kind of sums up my approach to sports in a nutshell: I'm far less interested in the minutiae of sabermetrics but I get super-geeked if I can say "Royals versus Pirates? How appropo!"

Anyway, in years past I've usually dedicated at least one post to celebrating the annual overlap of baseball season with football season but this hasn't been a great year for that, either. The Giants opened the season 0-and-2, both games in which they were leading as late as the fourth quarter and then proceeded to choke the potential W away. (Coincidentally there were two different series between the Yankees and Blue Jays during that same early September span, which could have been epic sweeps that completely flipped the script in the battle for the AL East pennant, but instead the Yankees lost 3 out of 4 followed by losing 2 out of 3, none of which bodes well.) A terribly inauspicious way to welcome the return of fall, but so it goes.

Last night the Giants hosted the Thursday Night Football game, which (along with MNF obvs.) is one of the few ways I can count on Giants games being nationally televised so that I can watch them. The other circumstances which allow me to follow my boys in blue is are the two games a year when New York plays Washington. So of course, last night's game was against Washington, because we wouldn't want to max out the possibilities or anything. I was dreading the game going in, understandably I think, because no one wants to see their team go 0-and-3, on a day where the next day at work it will be the only thing people will be talking about in response to "see the game last night?", and then have to wait ten days for any chance at eradicating the goose egg. The fact that it was a game against Washington just added numerous layers to the turmoil:

- They are a division rival.
- They spent the entire off-season and pre-season embroiled in a quarterback controversy and shouldn't be very good this year.
- Nonetheless going into last night Washington was 1-and-1, and given the Giants' struggles it was far from a gimme.
- I live in the Washington market and am surrounded by their "fans" so, re: people talking at work the next day, it really would have been unavoidable.
- I put scare quotes around "fans" because Washington fans are the worst, rabid bandwagoners when things go their way and apocalyptic tantrum-throwers when they don't.
- You may notice I keep referring to the team as Washington and not by their nickname, because their team name is a racial slur and I just avoid using it. I feel like this issue has lost some of the heat it had last year, but I'm happy to keep fanning the flames. The name is offensive and should be changed. And because the owner sticks to his guuuuuuuuuuns and refuses to kowtow to political correctness and employs all kinds of sleazy tactics like paying people off to act as Native American representatives who swear it's fine for the team to keep its name, because tradition Murica guuuuuuuuns &c. ... it just makes the Washington franchise come across as deplorable all around.

So yeah, there's rooting against the Red Sox and wanting to beat them because they are my team's rivals. Then there's rooting against the Eagles and wanting my team to beat them because of the rivalry and also the fact that their fans are jerks who pelt Santa with batteries. AND THEN there's rooting against Washington and wanting my team to destroy them because they are rivals, their fans are jerks, their owner is an ass-clown and their logo is totally racist.

And the Giants won! And, more or less simultaneously a time zone away, the Yankees also won and picked up a half a game on the Jays. So that particular harmonic convergence, unlikely to be repeated, strikes me as an apt time to check "blog about football and baseball" off my to-do list. Done and done.

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