Eric Aybar’s failure to get the suicide squeeze down in the ninth (the image of which I kept seeing repeatedly in my mind’s eye for three solid days) was the series in microcosm for the Halos. They didn’t play like a team that won 100 games, with countless defensive miscues (including Willits diving for Bay’s looper), some blockheaded baserunning, and atrocious hitting with RISP. To be honest, they were lucky to be where they were, winning one game and on the verge of taking a late lead in another. This of course only makes it more painful. If they had played their best and still lost at least then they could walk away with their heads held high knowing they gave it all they could. Instead, they (and I) will have the gnawing feeling that they should have done better all winter long. Getting eliminated in the playoffs always hurts because it seems like the road to get back is so very long and there is no guarantee you will be back, no matter how much money is spent.
As the late great A. Bartlett Giamatti said, “[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 alone.” Besides the specific bummed-outedness of my team getting eliminated from the playoffs, I always have a more general feeling of melancholy when the baseball season ends. For nine months baseball is woven into the fabric of my everyday life. Whether its checking the box scores or my fantasy team or talking about last nights game with friends or co-workers or listening to a game on the radio on a warm summer night while heading home after my own softball game. The world seems a lesser place without it. But the winter cold will numb this year’s pain and by the time spring rolls around hope will blossom once again and we’ll start the whole cycle all over again. To paraphrase Roy Hobbs, “Man, I love baseball.”