When I laid my weary soul down to bed on Wednesday night, I was content. The Blue Jays had won earlier in the day, which always puts me in a pretty good mood. Later that evening, I got The Org Kids to bed, and settled in for some baseball. There were some rather important games on, you may recall. I wanted to catch as much of them as I could, knowing full well that The Org Kids would need to be fed and cared for the next morning before being shipped off to their respective educational facilities. The morning routine, as if often the case, limits my ability to watch baseball, or anything else, past about 10:30 PM.
So I watched for a bit, then went to bed. I went to bed with the New York Yankees leading the Tampa Bay Rays 7-0, and the Boston Red Sox/Baltimore Orioles game in a rain delay with Boston leading 3-2. In the National League, about which I care somewhat less, St. Louis held a 7-0 lead on Houston, and the Atlanta Braves were leading 3-1 over the Phillies (if I recall correctly. It may have been 3-2 for Atlanta at this point).
The worst case NL scenario was missing a Phillies comeback that would cap the Braves’ September collapse; otherwise, it’s a one-game Cards/Braves play-in. Worst case scenario for the AL: I miss an Orioles comeback after the rain delay, forcing a one-game Rays/Sox play-in, and unsheathing the rusty dagger that could potentially be plunged through the hearts of Red Sox Nation the next night.
This was my thought process. No matter what, I figured I would awaken to either:
- the Sox and Cardinals having won their respective wild cards; or
- a really awesome night of baseball coming Thursday night, with one or even two one-game showdowns.
I woke up to something substantially different, of course. I turned on the news and did a double take at the scrolling scores at the bottom of the screen. Then I got on Twitter, and it was like my friends had gone out to nondescript bar somewhere, I decided to stay home and take it easy instead, and then I found out later that The Who showed up and played an acoustic set. And also, my friends had come home and kicked me in the stomach several times while I slept.
It’s not always easy to be a Canadian baseball fan. It’s certainly not a very emotionally rewarding experience to be a Blue Jays fan, at least for the last 18 years or so. Those of us who follow the game, love the game, live for Opening Day – we’re not exactly the dominant force in the Canadian sports landscape. I’ve long since given up on explaining why I love baseball to those who ask how I can care so much for such a slow, boring game. From now on, I’m just going to carry around a copy of Joe Posnanski’s write-up from Wednesday night on laminated cards in my pocket and hand them out for those occasions.
I’m happy nowadays to simply feel like I’m part of a big, loosely-knit, yet dedicated club of Canadian baseball fans. We have our own inside jokes that devotees of other sports don’t get. Sometimes those jokes are at their expense; how many times have we taken the piss out of the people who call in to the Jays Talk to say the team should trade a player for draft picks? Most of our neighbours have never heard of the young prospects that get our hopes up, like Anthony Gose or Travis d’Arnaud or Jake Marisnick. Compare that to millions of hockey fans, both dedicated and casual, who’ve watched Nazem Kadri or Alexander Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby since they were 16 years old. Our enthusiasm for obscure-by-comparison prospects makes us feel like we’ve maybe got a bit more inside knowledge about our sport than they do about theirs.
Or at least that’s how I feel sometimes. I enjoy sharing these little idiosyncrasies with some like-minded people and not feeling like I have to apologize for it. Unfortunately, our clique is not often rewarded with big, amazing moments. As Posnanski said, “It’s all the years you spend waiting for Wednesday night that makes baseball great.” Wednesday’s baseball games are going to go down in history as some of the most stirring, memorable ones ever played. I had a chance to be part of it in a way that the non-fan isn’t. And I missed it.
When I tweeted this on Thursday morning, I was half-joking. I really did feel – I still do feel, in fact – like I missed out on something special.
In the end, though, I still got to wake up in the morning, hang out with my kids, and see them off to school. That’s a big, amazing moment I get to experience every day. They’re not big baseball fans, at least not yet. Maybe one day, they’ll get to see a night like Wednesday and won’t sleep through it like I did. I bet they’ll be two Canadian kids as hooked on baseball as I am.