In a word, the baseball season is long. Hell, by the beginning of August, it feels downright interminable; that’s even more true in a year like this when few races come down to the wire. Because of that, we tend to take a long view of things and not get hung up over small scale wins and losses. Things sort out over the big picture, so why fret over details? We attempt–as much as possible–Zen Baseball, Joe Pawlikowski coined it. But in the playoffs? That’s a whole different story.
There’s no down the road to think about. There’s no saving bullets. There’s no resting guys for the sake of resting guys. The regular season conditions us to think long term and be a bit dispassionate. Here, our tendencies towards analytics bolsters that thinking even more. But in the playoffs, that gets stripped away a bit. While we don’t lose our rationality–why would we want to do that fully?–it takes a slight backseat to the raw emotion of rooting.
With each pitch, our hearts pound.
With each swing, our stomachs turn.
With each throw, each catch, our bodies rock and jitter. .
The games may not always end up exciting, but at the beginning, there’s a buzz in the stadium. There’s a buzz on the broadcast. For this one awful, amazing month, we lead with our hearts and throw our voices–real and digital–against walls of other voices, but all in search of the same trophy. In the regular season, all 30 teams seem to have 30 different goals. But once we get to the final eight, there is only one goal and they all share it, though only one can have it.
October is the most exhausting month of the season and ends in heartbreak for all but one. That heartbreak, however painful, is better than never having a chance for it in the first place. During the playoffs, we live in the moment and root in the moment. It’s agonizing. It’s terrifying. It’s amazing. It’s perfect. We wouldn’t want it any other way.