“Baseball breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”
— A. Bartlett Giamotti
The St. Louis Cardinals seemingly lost the handle on the playoffs Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers. Just the idea that the Redbirds had a chance to play baseball in October was a gift, based on the way most of the season played out. So, I’m not bummed out as much by the idea that St. Louis lost a chance to play for another World Series title. I’m just depressed that I now know baseball will soon be over for a very long fall and winter.
Former National League commissioner Bart Giamotti hit it right on the head with his famous quote. I love the long days of summer. All the sun I can handle. And I love coming home from work almost every day to eat dinner and then rush to go to the ballpark — or at least sit in front of the television to watch the Cardinals play from the comfort of my living room. It’s depressing to see the days get shorter, forcing us inside to huddle from the cold instead of playing catch on the lawn or taking part in other outdoor activities. I become accustomed to watching the games every day, and then they’re gone. It seems to be intentionally cruel.
Sure there’s plenty to talk about. Around these parts, baseball is a 365 day a year endeavor. It’s a lot of fun to talk about which players the Cardinals might pursue through trade or free agent signing and to count the days until pitchers and catchers report. But it’s odd and disconcerting to know that, for all practical purposes, major league baseball has ceased to exist.
It just ain’t right.
The Cardinals technically aren’t out of the race yet. But it doesn’t look good. They’ll face their rivals the Chicago Cubs on the road this weekend, trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers by a game. LA will play the San Francisco Giants, who have absolutely nothing to play for and probably couldn’t do much about it if they were inspired to prevent the Dodgers from making it to October. Just being honest here: If I was the manager of the Cubs, I would rather see St. Louis, which doesn’t have the likes on Clayton Kershaw, Manny Machado and Kenley Janson on its roster. So, I might just sit some of my best players to make sure they’re good and rested up for the National League Division Series. I’d also rather play the Cardinals than face the Milwaukee Brewers right now.
Unfortunately, the talk surrounding the Redbirds is less about playing against Machado than speculating if the team could land him on the free agent market. That would be great — if highly unlikely — but I’m not ready to think about that just yet — despite Jon Heyman’s prediction published today that St. Louis expects to be a player in the Machado bidding.
Hopefully the Cardinals can win the first game of their Cubs series and the Dodgers will drop their opener, setting the stage for a two-game drag race to the finish line. How cool would it be if the Birds and LA tied and had to have a one-game playoff — which would be in St. Louis because the Birds won the season series against LA by salvaging the last game of their recent meeting?
I’m not ready to let it go just yet. But, by the time we next talk, I realize I may have to make peace with the 2018 season.