When it comes down to these last few days of October, I try to look back and figure out which essential pieces of October I’ve missed. Which most obviously October themes have I skipped thus far? With time running out, which can I squeeze in before our November 1st deadline?
Today, the most glaring omission is baseball. I’ve been so caught up in soccer recently that I’ve neglected an old friend. After six full months of near-obsessive Timbers supporter behavior, the offseason has arrived and hit me full-on like a ton of bricks.
And who is here to welcome me back into the fold? The great American pastime, baseball.
Baseball and I have wrestled over the years. My first team was the California Angels, mostly because my little friend Paula had an Angels ball cap that she hardly ever took off that I coveted. I’m not proud of this, but it’s not the worst way to pick a team.
And then there were the Dodgers, served to me on a wave of Fernando Valenzuela’s popularity. I don’t know what it was like outside of southern California at the time, but it seemed to me, a fourth grader at most, that he was the very center of the universe.
When we came to Portland, baseball, a game I’d never followed too closely anyway, was set aside in favor of ice hockey. The local team, comprised mostly of handsome teenage Canadians with lovely accents, was a pretty big draw to the teenage me. I even got my own skates for Christmas one year, though they were figure skates and not the Bauer Turbos I’d wanted.
I outgrew my brief crush on hockey (and young Canadian hockey players) and, about ten years ago, went back to baseball. Portland fielded a AAA team in the Pacific Coast League then after decades of baseball turmoil. Tickets were cheap and easy to come by and my friend Bill and I spent many an evening in the club seats in 117 or in the 200 level on the third base line. Even if you’ve never considered yourself a baseball fan, you should find someone like Bill, and old school Chicago-style heckler, and go. Sometimes the heckling is even more fun than the game.
But Bill went back to Chicago a few years back and my beloved Beavers played their last game in Portland a little over a year ago. No more baseball for me.
Until this week. Until tonight.
I was out at a high school soccer match, cheering on my pseudo-niece when I chanced a glance at the Twitter timeline on my smartyphone.
Where only hours ago was a steady stream of MLS playoff analysis, there was now a screen filled with soccer supporters awed by the fact that they’d all been drawn into what will surely go down in the annals of baseball history as one of the most insane games ever played.
This is what baseball should be. This is October baseball.
Month after month of box scores and stats and games that seem to go on forever condensed into a final few innings. Or what should probably have been a final few innings but has now reached out and secured one more game.
One more game. The joy, the outrageous joy that rabid Cards fans feel today at being able to play one more game is something I can truly understand. It’s exactly how I feel about October.
Just give me a few more innings. Just give me one more day.