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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

World Series: And So It Begins

Posted By on Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 12:59 PM

click to enlarge We're all going to wax philosophical over this and get very worked up...
  • We're all going to wax philosophical over this and get very worked up...
For all intents and purposes, baseball and postseason baseball are two different sports. The quotidian nature of a game in which teams play a ludicrous 162 contests per season gives way to the adrenaline overload of a painfully short series. The games grow long as the season grows short, and the magnitude of every inning, every run, every pitch, every decision comes into focus.

Even people who don't much care for baseball may pay attention to postseason baseball. Extreme pressure makes for compelling fare. Apply extreme pressure to anything and it'll change into something shiny and new. That is, after all, how a lump of coal becomes a diamond.

Tonight, the San Francisco Giants take the field in Kansas City in pursuit of their third World Series title in five seasons. How strange that sentence seems in the context of the flood of memories that overwhelm any longtime follower of the team that, until recently, was best summed-up as having amassed the greatest assemblage of baseball talent to never break through for a title. 

In a way, though, the team's great success has actually made today and the days to come a bit harder for a fan. 

What's at stake has been quantified. Now we know what it is to win. Players on successful teams wax about how winning "never gets old." And that's true. But, looking at things another way, nothing gets old faster than winning. Its shelf life is finite and it must be replaced or you will go without.

Other fanbases, like those in Kansas City, haven't enjoyed the success locals have. If you remember Joaquin Andujar being dragged off the mound in Kansas City's 11-0 Game 7 victory over St. Louis — then you have pretty clear memories of 1985. It has been very bleak since then. 

There is room for empathy for those fans' plight, but not pity nor accommodation. Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.

That's because baseball is a zero-sum game. It's complicated — try explaining the balk rule to a naif — but it's also simple. Your humble narrator's father-in-law, upon being taken to his first and only baseball game, queried "Is it better to hit the ball onto the green or onto the red?

That's a hard one to answer cogently. There are so many thing that can occur at a game; no other sport can be distilled into its statistical components so lucidly; a mafia of nerds revel in baseball's rich mathematical possibilities. 

But, in the end, it's a set of binary outcomes. You're safe or you're out. And you win or you lose. For years and years. Again and again. 

Starting today. 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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