Monday, September 9, 2013

The Boys of September

They were marked as The Team of Destiny. April.
The season began with the Washington Nationals on top of the world.
Everyone expected them to win and win.
So it began in the cool evenings of Spring.
We had dreams of winning everything.

The season began, and the Nationals won! Of course!
And then they won some more games.
And then they lost some games.
...and won some...
...and lost some...
...and won some more...
...and lost some more...
And we waited for them to just keep winning and winning,
like the Team of Destiny should.
But instead they won and lost
like The-Team-That-Comes-In-Third-Place.

And we thought, "they are off to a slow start. Its only April."
"They're still getting warmed up. After all, its only May."
"They've had some injuries and some bad breaks. But its only June!"
"July. All-Star break. They haven't had a good first half. But they'll do better."

They were doing worse.
They fell below .500!!!
     (Perhaps, if you are not a fan, you do not understand what this means.
     But you do get the idea that this is not good at all.)
By now we were grumbling at our heroes,
for this is the nature of fickle-hearted baseball fans.
"You bums!"
We said to our players,
to these people that we have never met,
about whose lives we know nothing.
It is too easy to forget to remain playful in defeat.

The last playoff spot was drifting further and further away.
The baseball season had quickly gotten old
and neared its end.
We who had played the season in the seats
or on our couches
had moved by now into the stage of resignation.
It is that peculiar baseball resignation that eludes despair
because there is always "Next Year."

And then
the Nationals are on fire.
It is September
and they have finally found that elusive *sparkle*
that makes the difference between "winning and losing,"
and "winning and winning"!
Now they've got it at last.

And this is what makes baseball beautiful:
When the team trails by six games in September,
with some twenty or a few more left to play,
we start to dream again.
The mathematics of it are not promising,
but the strange twists and turns of this strange game
move between the numbers,
and what is possible
always remains possible.
If we win two more (and the Reds lose)
its only four games back.
And then another two
and its only two games behind!

Is it really possible?

It has happened before.
That's the beauty of a game with a history.
There's almost nothing that hasn't happened before.

And so,
in these cool September evenings,
we keep on dreaming.