Sunday, October 30, 2011

World Series Recap: Wherein a Single Fuck is Given

180 games ago, I was wasting my time with a fake Ozzie Guillen Twitter feed. And I posted:

Ozzie Guillen
Most of life is like wading through a hip-deep pool of badger shit.

Ozzie Guillen
But every once in a while, a douchebag grabs a ball, and an asshole grabs a bat.

Ozzie Guillen
And even if they DON'T attack each other (like they probably should- THAT'S GRINDERBALL), you just know, deep down, that everything's OK.

Ozzie Guillen
Te quiero, beisbol.

That's as close to poetry as I care to get about this game. Too many assholes with keyboards try to dress baseball up with forced metaphors and awkward imagery. "Baseball, like life, yadda yadda yadda." That's horseshit. Baseball isn't like life; life is way shittier.

When you keep trying- and failing- to connect baseball up to some grander ideas about life, the universe, and everything, you don't make baseball bigger and more relevant; you actually make it smaller. You make it easier to dismiss. People recognize that you're trying to justify spending so much time on something that can right be identified as "just a game." 

The St. Louis Cardinals are my all time favorite sports team. On August 24, 2011, they were 10 1/2 games outside of a playoff spot. Albert Pujols was looking like some commoner. The disabled list looked longer than the active roster. LaRussa had had shingles for chrissake! SHINGLES. Like he was one of the goddamn neighbors on Little House on the Prairie. WILL HE SURVIVE THE WINTER, PA?

" The world is cruel, and the only morality in a cruel world is chance. Unbiased. Unprejudiced. Fair. Ron Washington's boys get the same chance my Athletics had- 50-50."

The Cardinals closed the 10 1/2 game gap on an awesome final game of the season, one almost good enough to justify the Wild Card/Unbalanced Schedules boondoggle (that final night of the regular season needs a name, stat. I keep calling it "Night 162", but nobody listens to me, nobody listens to me. They say I'm crazy, but I'm not crazy, they're all crazy, I'll show them...). They were in as the "Wild Card", which is generally thought of as the "EVERYBODY GETS A TROPHY!" award of Major League Baseball, but it's good enough for me.

They faced the best team in the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies, and beat them in 5 games. I didn't need this to be anything bigger than that. There was a good story about Carpenter and Halladay facing off in Game 5, but it was just that, a nice story. I didn't need it to mean anything. The Cards beat their divisional rivals, the Milwaukee Brewers, for the Pennant. And it was nice that they beat their rivals, but let's be clear, this Cardinals team is so pissy and self-righteous that they hate pretty much ANY team in the NL Central that might be able to beat them. It was nothing special.

Then we get to the World Series. And it WAS a wildly entertaining World Series- games decided by single runs, the best hitting performance in World Series history, a remarkable pitching performance out of an 8 year old boy who had never done something like that before (and, I'll bet you anything, won't do it again), bullpen phone slap-dickery, that amazing, miraculous Game 6, and the hilarious anti-climax of a Game 7. The baseball pundits went on and on and on about "momentum shifts" and "grit" and "determination", and they even managed to work in some condescension as they insisted that in five years we'll all forget that there even WAS a Game 7, we'll just think the Cardinals won it in Game 6. We won't. But they'll act like we did with their "DID YOU KNOW" bullshit, and we'll mute our TVs to listen to that damn Westlife song again. Written in the stars, indeed.

It was all horseshit, and everything they say about it in the next few days will be horseshit, too. The Cardinals came out of an iron lung and won the whole thing because they were just a little more talented than they looked in August, and because it's fucking baseball, and random shit is gonna smack you in the dick every so often. That's good enough for me. Are you kidding? That's fucking AWESOME. That's the Excitement of the Unexpected, if not the Theater of the Absurd, and that's a cornerstone of entertainment. It doesn't need to connect up to life as a whole, or human perseverance, or the brutal art of competition and conquest. Take all of that shit, put it in a balloon, shove the balloon up your ass, and smuggle it back to your academic conference, Princeton. Write a goddamn paper citing Joseph Conrad, if you're so convinced, but it better be a fucking spectacular one.

Because it IS just a game, and you know what? We spend billions and billions of dollars on games. On entertainment. People spend their entire careers, their entire lives, their entire fortunes, just to keep other people amused for a couple hours at a time. And I'll be god damned by the devil himself if that isn't beautiful. 

My Cardinals are the champions of a wildly entertaining and memorable World Series. An incredible POST SEASON AS A WHOLE, REALLY, the most entertaining one I can remember. That doesn't make my life any better, it doesn't give me any particular insight into anything besides baseball. But it makes me smile. And I refuse to believe that baseball needs to do anything else for me or the rest of the world.

Anyway. When do pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training?

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