Hello,Mr/s. Cardinals fans. This is the only place I exist. The Cardinals are playing the Cubs tonight at Gum Factory Field on the north side.
How do you feel when you're not amped about a team going into late September?
I'm no spring chicken. Not even a summer or fall chicken. Age is pursuing me, attacking my bone and muscle structures. It's chasing me from behind and pulling my hair follicles like a beetle attacking a fresh crop on an organic farm. I'm old.
Sure, as a kid, I saw McGwire wrenching a toothpick bat into a ball. I remember games at Busch Stadium II: Mothparty Bugaloo. But I haven't been a daily baseball fan my whole life: My experience as a serious Cardinals fan only goes back about 7.95 seasons. This fact may make this whole fanpost less significant to you. The landscape of your viewpoint judgments does not concern me,Mr. Reader.
The relationship I entered into before the 2008 season guided me to where I am right now: An Ultrafan that feels agony when the season ends more strongly than he feels joy when the season starts or the team clinches a playoff berth.
At the onset of my fandom, I was painfully unemployed. The place in which I lived had cable. It also had a lot of unpainted cinder blocks. There I'd sit with my roommate (any time he wasn't working) and we'd watch the ball game. We ate a lot of canned food.
Nearly nightly, when the game wasn't riveting, my roommate would mentally check out and play AudioSurf at full volume. I'd stay there and stare at the screen like a sweaty, unemployed miscreant, believing that Joel Piñeiro would stop being Joel Piñeiro and spray greatness on my old, abused tv like an emotionally-threatened skunk in a pawn shop.
Weird circumstances brought me to baseball and allowed me to care about it. My spouse was the catalyst, though. She was a real fan going back to childhood. When we started dating, she was watching games or listening on the radio by herself. When I first traveled to meet her parents, I walked into her old bedroom to find Rick Ankiel newspaper clippings. She was apparently tracking him the last time she lived at home. For her, baseball ran deep. It was contagious. In the years after a World Series winner, that may have been an easy virus to catch.
When we watch games together, we see a lot of insincere couples sitting at the front row of ballgames with matching jerseys pretending that their relationship revolves around baseball. For us, the poor asswagons in the cheapseats for two games a year (if we're lucky), the love for baseball is as integral as our current employment situation. We only agonize over tv subscriptions because of baseball. Sure, we have those shitass cliche 'cozy watching baseball together' moments that make single people want to shoot koalas, but that's not the guts of how we roll.
"Did you happen to grab the ba-AH SHIT did you see tonight's lineup?
"What the hell did he do?"
"Jhonny batting third."
"Is Mozielak okay with this!? ...Did you happen to grab the bag out of the back of the car?"
Upon realizing my spouse wasn't interested in the Cards-Cubs game to come this evening, I decided to ask her why. This human is not a typical short-term baseball fan. She's keeps in mind that it's a ridiculous 162-game schedule. She accepts the monotonous nature of existence, especially the monotonous existence of Major League Baseball.
"I'm still going to watch tonight. Of course I care. But this is one of the few seasons since we started watching together that it just seems like it's going to be okay to move on to off-season changes.[Editor's note: I have no idea if she includes the hyphen verbally.]
When the problems overshadow the good moments, I'm supposed to be able to cling to players I like. But with the lineups, who knows on any night if I can?
The defense has taken the Cardinals out of so many games.
The pitchers? Do YOU believe in many of them this year?
I can deal with crappy baseball. God knows I have before. But finishing the season at home? It sure doesn't feel like the organization deserves to be successful this year."
I'm not a moment-to-moment fan that reacts to every single headline, quote or change. But I agree with her. If we're not going to have a strong finish from the Cardinals, let's get on to the off(-)season. I'm not going to agonize o'er this season's end.
Or not, because Sports are Cruel and also Bad. So this'll probably be more painful than it really needs to be.