Wednesday, September 4, 2013

This is the day

When I used to think about The Streak ending, I always had a hard time picturing what it looked like. I saw myself at the ballpark in late September. I saw my arms in the air. I saw tears in my eyes. And then, I thought about about how tremendously unfulfilled it would feel to just win 82 games. 
Maybe the only thing I didn't count on was the clinching game happening on the road -- kind of a head-scratcher when you think about half the games being played on the road, but in a way, that I never counted on it being on the road makes sense, as that's just how far from reality the moment has seemed for so long.
The way in which this is going down is actually ideal. That the Pirates are on the road means there's no fight or failure to get a ticket to The game. We're all going to be watching it at home, at a bar, whatever. 
And it shifts the focus to what suddenly matters more to this team: they're chasing a division title. They finished fourth in a five-team division last year, and this year, extrapolated standings based on performance have them finishing with 94 wins.
How quickly priorities change.
At this point, a winning season is a fait accompli. The Streak will end and these stupid assholes are going to make the playoffs. And we'll get to that. But whether it happens tonight or Friday or Saturday, it's important that we acknowledge the 82nd win. 
No, it's not the goal. No, it doesn't, in the grand scheme of things, mean nearly as much as the season does, or the state of the minor league system, or the depth of the Major League roster, or the way Neal Huntington's unbelievable patience and sack at the deadline and into August are indicative of a encouraging gestalt shift in the fans' view of the organization's front office. It doesn't mean much at this point. It's just a minor landmark en route to something much bigger.
But nonetheless, it's important that we acknowledge it. It's a weight off our shoulders. It's a deeper breath than we've been able to take in a long time. And it's an opportunity to experience a prolonged form of the actual joy that, for the last 20 years, we've known only in fleeting moments
This ignominy has lasted for two-thirds of my life. The idea of it being gone -- mathematically impossible to continue -- by the time I wake up tomorrow, delights me.
When you watch or listen to the game tonight, reflect the last 20 years. Think about the people who aren't around to see it. And most of all, notice and enjoy how happy you are. 
Kurt Vonnegut said and wrote a lot of great stuff, but nothing more precious or valuable than relaying advice his Uncle Alex once gave him:
"I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"
We've waited a long time for this. No sense in not enjoying it.
Now that we've had this talk, watch Francisco Liriano go out and give up 10 runs in three innings and walk six, and the offense stubbornly refuse to hit anything off of Wily Peralta. That'd be just like them, wouldn't it?

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