“[Baseball] breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”― A. Bartlett Giamatti, Take Time For Paradise: Americans And Their Games
While I have been reminded today by coworkers, friends and family that baseball is just a game and that I should be happy that the Orioles made it to the ALCS for the first time since 1997, I must admit that I got greedy. Listening to all of the experts say that this could be the Orioles year to finally make it to the World Series for the first time since 1983, I bought into the notion that this really could be the year. I had purchased ALDS tickets and watched a magical comeback against the three headed monster Tigers rotation, sweeping that series. I told my friends that while the ALCS might go 7 games, I was confident that the Orioles could handle the Royals. I told a few friends that there was no way in hell the Royals would sweep, when the Orioles got down 0-2. Well, I was wrong. My team was just swept out of the ALCS by a young, hungry Royals team. I did not enjoy seeing the Royals players acting like high schoolers on the field with their celebrations after every hit; Jarrod Dyson's trash talking and Jeremy Guthrie's poor wardrobe choice. The only problem is, it's not bragging if you can back it up. The Royals brought a tough-to-defend game into the ALCS and simply beat the Orioles.
The most frustrating part was the sheer luck involved in each Royals win. The series could have easily gone the Orioles' way, and I would be the one celebrating. However, I am not. I feel like I watched a friend pass away as the Orioles' 2014 season came to a close with a resounding thud. I choose not to remember the 2014 season by seeing my team on its deathbed, I will choose to remember the 2014 season as my son, my friend Ryan and I walked out of Camden Yards on October 3. Our throats hoarse from cheering on the Birds in that dramatic come from behind win. Camden Yards was more packed than I had ever seen it. Baseball is back in Baltimore. Fourteen straight years of losing appears to be in the rear view mirror.
I am reminded that as good as we all felt as we walked out of that stadium several days ago, there were Tigers fans who felt the way that I do now. Remembering that feeling is the reason why folks who know me never see me brag or gloat about my team. This is why I appreciate Buck Showalter, because he always keeps an even keel and keeps things in perspective. But it hurts right now. It will hurt tomorrow. It will hurt during the World Series. It will hurt at Fan Fest in February and it will hurt come Opening Day, 2015, but I will get over it.
As bad as I feel right now, there are Royals fans who have never seen their team play a single playoff game. Now, Royals fans, you get to see your team in the World Series. Congratulations. Maybe, one day, I will get my time in the sun, too. Until then, I won't be crying. I did that already.