“Why care about October baseball?” a sports fan might say. “Your team didn’t make the postseason.”
It’s true, you think to yourself. Why care at all? Football is well underway; hockey and basketball begin their seasons too. Why bother?
And then, the answer catches your attention like an autumn breeze: Because you love baseball.
The leaves change colour and some will focus on Thanksgiving, sweaters and pumpkin spice lattes. But you focus on baseball. You know a team will achieve glorious triumph within 30 days.
But it’s also more than a tournament.
You think of October baseball and you remember being 10-years-old, staying up late and watching Joe Carter send Mitch Williams’ pitch over the left field wall. It was the greatest moment of your childhood. You think of October baseball and recall feeling like you’re the only teenager that cares about the postseason. You think of October baseball and suddenly, you’re back living in residence at Carleton University, witnessing the Red Sox end a curse that defined their existence.
You think of October baseball and remember feeling petrified because the deciding match of the 2016 ALDS – should it go the distance – would occur during Yom Kippur; then relief because the Jays swept the Rangers.
You think of October baseball and recall sitting inside a packed and passionate Skydome in 2015/2016. It was the closest thing to a religious experience that you have ever encountered.
What separates MLB’s postseason from the other professional leagues is that there’s less time to dwell on what has already occured. They play the game and do it again the next day, sometimes in less than 24 hours. Travel days offer a chance to catch one’s breath. In one week or less, fans experience a wide array of emotions with each series. Describing it as a rollercoaster is cliched, but it captures October baseball.
And the stories that result are far better than any television show debuting in the fall. The characters providing classic performances.
David Freese will always be loved in St. Louis and despised in Texas. Madison Bumgarner’s Herculean pitching was a contemporary legacy. Bill Buckner, a career .289 hitter with a .729 OPS, over 20 plus seasons, is remembered for one misplayed ground ball. A split-second moment that can turn you into a hero or a punch line. That’s the power of October baseball. That’s why we watch it and love it.
Yes, it’d be nice if the Blue Jays were participating. But that shouldn’t stop you from getting swept up in the drama.
Don’t tell me game one between Milwaukee and Colorado wasn’t compelling. Don’t tell me you didn’t marvel at Justin Verlander’s pinpoint accuracy. Don’t tell me you didn’t derive a sadistic amount of pleasure from seeing the New York Yankees lose 16-1 in their own ballpark. Don’t tell me you weren’t hoping that Atlanta would knock off the Dodgers.
This is October baseball. This is where passion and excitement flourish. So embrace it and then savour the memories.