It always happens this way: The season ends, and for a little bit (it might be a few hours, maybe a few days, just maybe two weeks) you don't mind. The pain of a year that didn't quite measure up is no more. No need to mutter about Braden Looper, or what's wrong with Carlos Beltran, or to try to convince yourself there's some scenario where the Phillies, Astros and Marlins all fall over themselves and you win out and they'll still be talking about it when we're in our final days. It's over. Put it in the books. Wait till next year.
And hey, you discover, there's this big world out there. You can sit down to dinner at 6:30 and not start fidgeting every time the waiter's a bit slow. It's amazing the number of useful errands you can get done starting at 1:30 on Saturday or Sunday. People always talking about how there's not enough time in life, sheesh. There's hours upon hours in the day. There's so many hours you're not quite sure what to do with all of them. What possible excuse does anyone who's not a full-time baseball fan have for not having their shit together?
Sure, there are these games called the playoffs. You might even have a mild rooting interest, a bandwagon team, a team you hate with such singleminded purity that you can't sleep until you know they're home for the winter too. (Just sayin'.) Maybe you watch, maybe you don't, most likely you watch but you're doing other things while you're watching. It's diverting, this playoff stuff. It doesn't really matter, but it's nice to keep an ear or an eye on.
And then, just when you think you've figured out the rhythms of this odd second season, you realize: Winter, that crafty old wolf, is at the door. How many games left are there? That few? Really? You mean this will all be over when Monday comes around again? It could all be over…Wednesday?
No, that can't be. That's way too soon. Wait, baseball, wait! I'll watch! I'll watch without talking on the phone with my parents or balancing the checkbook or slogging through the National Geographics I feel too guilty to recycle unread. Wait, baseball! I didn't mean all those things about how this sure takes forever and I'm sure glad I've got an emotional stake in this game or I'd be going out of my mind. That was crazy talk, summer talk, the babbling of an ingrate who's very, very sorry. I'll watch guys stroll back and forth between the batter's box and the on-deck circle all night. I'll watch White Sox and Astros warm up! I won't make fun of Scooter! I'll listen to Guillen and Garner between innings! I won't complain about the Nascar swoosh that has to signal we're moving between live action and a replay every single time. I'll wait to see the next star of a Fox sitcom freezing his ass off.
Anything you want, baseball. Just don't go. Because I'm not ready yet. Maybe in another week I will be. Maybe two. Definitely in two. OK, I'm pretty sure I'll be ready in a month. But not yet. Not yet, baseball. You hear me, baseball?