I haven’t paid attention to the postseason in Major League Baseball in my entire life. I’ve quit watching by the first week in September and calmly written off the previous season in the past.
That’s not the case this year. I care about what happens in baseball in October for the first time in my adult life. There are probably more baseball fans out there like me, who have been consistently disappointed in their team’s performance, than there are who have had the benefit of a playoff berth all but guaranteed.
That’s not any new insight. Even though the Oakland Athletics may have shrugged off the conventional wisdom and took the American League West on the final day of the season, Detroit and New York, perennial powerhouses, are both guaranteed October games. San Francisco and St. Louis, plus Atlanta, are all familiar faces on the National League side.
The final weeks of baseball season were so interesting that my father and I took a trip to Baltimore last week to watch the Orioles play a double header against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Orioles have been so far out of contention in since the 1997season, 15 years ago, that a trip like that would have been incredibly depressing.
Fifteen years isn’t a long time, in most people’s eyes. But the last time the Orioles were contenders, Bill Clinton was in the first year of his second term as President. The Notorious B.I.G. was still alive, at least until March. Things have changed.
Baltimore won the first game we were going to see, but we missed it because we were sitting on the Inner Harbor eating crabs. The Orioles lost the second game. But the outcome of the games isn’t really important. What matters is that time my father and I spent together, driving 900 miles round-trip in 36 hours just to watch a game that has brought us together for as long as I can remember.
We’ve done these trips before — we went to New York for the last year Yankee Stadium was open and we’ve been to Atlanta. I’ve always appreciated these trips, and we’ve always had a good time. But since becoming a father myself I have a new perspective. These are more than just fun trips to take. They’re our chance to reconnect and I’m looking forward to the next one we take, wherever it is.