It is a testament to the progress that the Oakland Athletics organization has made in the last two years that I feel so crummy today. On April 1, 2012, I was declaring the upcoming season to be a lost season and openly rooting for 100 losses and a favorable draft position. On October 1, 2012, I was deliriously happy that I had just watched my team secure a playoff spot. On October 11, 2012, I was disappointed that the A’s hadn’t managed to advance further in the postseason, but nevertheless awed and content with the most magical six months of baseball in my lifetime.
Today I just feel like crap.
I recognize that I am offbase in my thinking here, and that my observations don’t match up reality, but it has nevertheless always seemed to me that in any given baseball game, a team has one opportunity on which the fortunes of the game swing. One inning in which the opposing pitcher is looking shaky. One chance to shut down the heart of the opponent’s order. If you take advantage of that opportunity, you win, plain and simple.
I can also say the same of a playoff series. In the 2013 ALDS between the A’s and the Tigers, the A’s opportunity to win and advance to the ALCS for the first time in seven years came in Game 4. That was Oakland’s game to win, but thanks to a misplaced fastball, an unnecessary wild pitch and a fake home run, the opportunity to win the game and the series was lost. That’s why I didn’t feel any particular sense of tragedy in Game 5; that had come two days earlier. Instead, all I felt throughout Game 5 was a sinking inevitability and a desire to have it all over with.
And that’s all led to today, where I’ve had three days to do away with the frustration and anger at Game 4, and am instead left to deal with that persistent feeling of emptiness that follows when something that had occupied so much emotional energy for so long (that ALDS took about a year and a half to play, right?), something you had expected to devote energy to for just a bit longer, is suddenly taken away in the time from one pitch to another. There’s none of the 2003 rage, and certainly none of the 2012 contentment, but instead just a gaping hole rooted somewhere in my guts. Seeking to fill that hole may be why I spent twenty minutes last night watching the end of Moneyball at 1 a.m. with my half-asleep three-year-old son sitting next to me on the couch. Seeking to close the hole may be why I threw every piece of Oakland-themed clothing I own in the laundry hamper this morning. Neither did the job, but it was worth a shot.
Today I feel like crap. Tomorrow I’ll feel better.
April 2014 isn’t so far away, right? How’s Jaso’s concussion recovery coming along?
96-66, American League West Champions