Don’t let anybody tell you that baseball isn’t insane. Both the Oakland A’s and the Baltimore O’s will play baseball in the postseason and I literally don’t think anyone saw this coming. Sure, there might have been a rouge contrarian or two out there who predicted the A’s to sneak into the Wild Card, but no way was there any talk of the division. And the Orioles? Show me one person who correctly called their season back in April and isn’t like, a violent schizophrenic, and I’ll gladly eat my hat. Anyone who foresaw this for both teams should be immediately elected as the next President of the United States.
I suppose the moral of this story is that no matter how many games we watch, or articles we read, or statistics we pour over, we don’t know anything. Men make plans and the Baseball Gods laugh. Prognosticating sports is a fools errand. The Universe is controlled by randomness and we are all helpless in the face of its massive and unrelenting apathy. Stuff like that. Some people don’t take joy from the success of the A’s and O’s, they see the math and it doesn’t add up, and when math doesn’t add up it is frustrating and it makes people angry. This is an understandable position. The word is not fair and it’s ok to be upset when it’s not. Injustice is just the worst. For others, the O’s and A’s are everything that is wonderful about the game. It’s strange rhythms and unpredictability. Contests not being over until they are. A game of inches. There is also nothing wrong with feeling this way. Sports are a distraction from the terribleness of real life and so you are free to enjoy them however you please. Distract yourself any way that you like. I’m really not saying anything at all in this paragraph. Some people like what has happened! Some people don’t! Sports, man!
No, what I’m thinking about now is the fanbases of those two teams. The people who aren’t reading this because they’re either hung over or still asleep. Or young children on buses headed to school. The fans of the A’s and O’s don’t give a shit if I enjoyed their teams success or if I think it’s a random fluke of variation. They lived and died with their teams for days and weeks and months. They had the game on in the background during dinner and screamed at their television and argued about the fourth outfielder with their neighbor. They hung on every pitched and hugged their friends and families when it was all over. I root for the Mariners, so maybe I’ll a little too romantic over the rarity of a successful baseball season, but I ran through the streets of San Francisco with Giants fans in 2010, and no one was talking about Pythagorean expectation that I could hear. There was just a lot of smiling and yelling and enjoying life.
I hope they ran in the streets of Baltimore and Oakland last night. I hope they high-fived strangers and drank cheap champagne from the bottle. I hope they sang loudly and cheered pure, saluting their teams and the happiness that had been wrought, and the sport of baseball encompassing all of it.