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The Remains of the Game

Post-break reflection and a glance at the schedule ahead.

Dilip Vishwanat

Good morning! I have a roughly constructed but hopefully useful chart below for easy schedule comparison between the four teams in the NL Central division race. But first...

I wouldn't say I liked these last two days off, but they were good for me. I like reflection. I like thinking about baseball's place in my life. I hadn't really thought about that since before the season started, and something struck me yesterday that's probably long been true. I just really don't care at all about the outcomes of any particular baseball game. If the Cardinals lose 12-0, I'll go to bed as happily as if they won 12-0. It just doesn't matter to me. I might enjoy more the act of watching the latter, but when it's over, I let it go.

What I care about is the arc of the season. Meaning comes from my general frustrations and affections for players, for the way the rosters work together, for long slow shifts in the standings but also quick seismic upheavals in the standings. Looking back at 2011, for instance, I can't say I remember any regular season games particularly well. I remember some individual performances, and I remember some key moments within games, but the vast majority of them have been completely washed away. But I remember being really fond of the 2011 team despite its warts. I remember Colby leaving, and Furcal coming, and Lance Berkman hitting through it all, and I remember my last impressions of Albert, and I remember the Memphis Mafia arriving, which is especially enriching to consider in the context of the present.

And I remember my family moved in the middle of 2011. I remember the new house, and how the room with the television was set-up, and what that room felt like when the game was on. I remember my daughter, recently turned two then, starting to be interested in what was going on when the Cardinals played. But I don't remember the games. They didn't matter then, and they certainly don't know. They were barely ever there in the first place, and now they're gone.

And sure, I remember the 2011 playoffs in a thrilling specific way, but they wouldn't have meant anything to me without the season before it. To paraphrase VEB's resident philosopher-poet Alex Fritz, the regular season is the meal and the wine and the atmosphere, the company and the conversation. The playoffs are a shot of ouzo at the end of the night if everyone is feeling particularly jovial. I like ouzo, but I love everything else.

What I love about baseball is the season. I love the slow dance of getting to know what the team actually is, and watching it change over weeks and months, and sometimes suddenly. What's going to be worth remembering for me is that 2014 was the year I started thinking Mike Matheny was actually bad at his job. It was the year I was reminded of the beauty of Jaime Garcia's way of pitching. It was the year I really got to see Carlos Martinez and Oscar Taveras, the year I figured out what it was like to watch a really good shortstop who managed to be just that with limited range (I had no idea!). It was the year that Michael Wacha looked incredible and then hurt his shoulder. And I'll remember it as the year when the Cardinals pitching was wonderful and the bats didn't do much, and there was a very close four-way traffic jam in the standings at the break. And then? These are the things that will matter to me in the future, and they're the things that matter to me now.

I find baseball to be meaningful because it is there day after day, a quiet constant hum that enriches the entire backdrop of my life. The season is the game I love, and the games are just moments in it. When I last reflected about baseball's place in my life last March, my wife was a student, my son wasn't crawling, and my daughter just knew her alphabet. And now the season is still rich with promise of what's left, and my wife is a physician, my son is walking, and my daughter can read. And when I remember the 2014 baseball season in years to come, I'll remember those things happening with it, too.

I'm glad we had this break in the season. The time to reflect was good. But I'm happy that when my daughter asks me "is there baseball on tonight?" as she does every morning walk we take, today I can say "yes."

Remaining Games













































StL 3 3 4,6 4,3 3 3 2 3

3,3 6,4
3 6,4 3
Mil 3,7 3 3 4 4
3,3 2 6,3 3 4,6 3,3
Cin 2 4 3,6 2 3,4 3 2,2 3 3,3
3 4,6 4,4 3 3,6
Pit 4 3,3 3,3 3 4 4 3

3,3 3 3,3 3,4 3 3,3 2,2 3


Games within the four division contenders remaining:

Stl, 26, 15 at home.

MIL: 25, 13 at home.

Cin: 25, 10 at home.

Pit: 18, 9 at home.

Games against below .500 teams remaining:

StL: 34

Mil: 24

Cin: 27

Pit: 30