Tonight, the Cardinals will begin their final series of the year. Well, final series of the regular season, anyway. Luckily, postseason baseball awaits for our boys in red this year, rather than the specter of another October spent rootrootrooting against the Cubbies. So am I sad to see the season end? Perhaps a bit wistful?
Oh, come now. You should all know me better than that by now. I'm always sad and wistful, whether I have a reason to be or not.
It has been said baseball is meant to break your heart, but I disagree. It lives along with us, and cannot help but be heart-breaking at times. Anything good or worthwhile in life will always break you in the end, you know.
For six months of the year, baseball is your friend, living constantly in the fabric of life as it winds through the season. This greatest of sports is a constant companion from April through September, sitting there in the passenger seat of the car, waiting to tell you all about the day it had. We all have good days and bad days, and the game is no exception. Some days you're the windshield, and some days you're the bug.
Every night as you drive to dinner, the game is there, just off in the background. The voices we all know so well they seem almost family; Jack Buck will forever be etched into the memory of anyone who ever heard him. When you don't pay attention, baseball goes on. And when you come back to it, you see it was only waiting for you to listen again.
Football is all violence and vulgarity, the rush of the moment, the joy of pure spectacle. Football is all about the event, and gathering together to celebrate it. Baseball, though, is a solitary, patient pursuit, a series of long pauses punctuated by sharp intakes of breath. It can be shared, but remains, in the end, yours alone, a secret poorly kept but only understood one night at a time for life.
Baseball is heart-breaking, but only as much as life. Its ups and downs are only your own life told back to you by men in matching uniforms, a tapestry of joy and failure which so often come all at the same time.
And now it's almost over. There is still the rush of the playoffs to come, but the game played night after night after night from April to September is nearly done. Savor it down to the dregs, friends; it has to last all winter, you know.