September 29, 2011, Washington, DC: I fell asleep. During last night’s rain delay of the Orioles-Red Sox game, I fell asleep and missed those final explosive and unexpected twists that have propelled us into postseason 2011. Instead I’ve woken up to the headlines. “Shameful Red Sox Made Unwanted History“, from The Boston Globe. “Seasons Change in a Matter of Minutes“, from espn.com. And in St. Pete Times’ sports column by John Romano, recounting a night Tampa Bay Rays fans will remember of years, “In generations to come, no one will have gone to bed.”
I probably shouldn’t care. Of all the places I’ve lived, only two of my many hometown teams have earned their way into this year’s postseason. And they are perhaps the two teams in my former hometowns to which I have the least allegiance. The Yankees and the Cardinals will play in October, but the Blue Jays, Orioles, Mets, Giants, Cubs, White Sox and Nationals will sit this one out. A pretty poor tally on my hometown scorecard.
It’s a shame because I love postseason in the cities. I have fond memories of being in New York in the fall of 2000, San Francisco in the fall of 2002, and moving into an apartment full of Boston residents in fall 2004. I love the energy in the air, the crispier weather at the ballpark. Postseason in the cities is a time when neighbors unite behind this sport and its rhythms, when we most fully appreciate the pace of its announcers and the nostalgia among its fans. I can’t always claim to be a diehard fan, but there are so many things I love about the culture of baseball. I think ballparks under the night lights are some of our cities’ most gorgeous spots, and I think October baseball and the spirit it can bring to a city is electrifying.
It’s that time of year again in America’s cities: The time when – if we’re one of the lucky ones – we’re given a few more weeks to root for our hometown baseball team before reluctantly turning to football and basketball and hockey.