(image via Charm City Cakes)
Sometimes having a brain is great. Like when having to calculate whether you have enough money to purchase a Brian Bannister bobblehead this month. (Answer: No, but don’t let that stop you.) Other times, it’s not so great, like when having to make difficult decisions like “Yes, I should get out of bed and go to work, otherwise I will definitely not be able to afford Brian Bannister bobbleheads.” This is one of those my brain is not so good moments.
Roughly estimated, I use around 75-80% of my brain’s processing power on taking in, sifting through, cataloguing, and referencing baseball information. It’s a horrible waste of a brain, but it’s my life, and I’m gonna do me. Sometimes my brain will help me out, reminding me that while a sparkling ERA is nice to look at, perhaps you should focus on the underlying reasons for that ERA, like strikeouts and walks and ability to pitch to the score with a mustache. But then the Orioles come along and muck the whole system up.
Because this brain, the one that enables me to talk and breathe and eat at the same time, also looks at things like the Orioles -39 run differential and piecemeal pitching staff and says “This team will fall apart.” It tells me that even though the Orioles are currently leading in the Wild Card race, there is no way they will continue to win every one-run game that comes there way and finish the year over-performing their Pythagorean won-loss record by eleven games. The last time a team did that was when the 2008 Angels won 100 games instead of 88. The Orioles aren’t, as far as my brain tells me, nearly that good.
And yeah, being negative almost always wins out. If the Orioles fade just a little down the stretch and fall out of contention, I can sit back and say, “See, I told you.” And should they make the playoffs but lose in the Wild Card round or the Divisional Series, I can sit back and say “They didn’t even belong to be in the dance.” And if they somehow, against all rhyme or reason, make it to the World Series and win the damn thing, I can scoff and tell you, “The postseason is a crapshoot.” Being negative is easy. Looking for holes is easy. And yeah, in the end, you’ll normally be right.
Every March, people gather around the TV and thrill as some 15 seed makes it to the Sweet Sixteen. Does the team ever go any farther? Correct me if I’m wrong, but no, it’s always the monolith that cruises to the championship, crushing the perky upstart in the process. But we don’t stop hoping and believing, thinking this is the year, this is the year, even though we’ll be proven wrong once again.
So, brain, I’m telling you, I don’t care that the Orioles should be well below .500. That in a vacuum, Tampa or Detroit or Boston or Anaheim would lead the wild card and the Orioles would be on the outside looking in for the 15th straight year. In this last month of the season, I’ll be rooting like crazy for the Orioles and the Pirates and every team that has no right to be in the position they are. Maybe Orioles Magic is real and Santa Claus works down the street and if we all link hands we can end global warming.
I was wrong about this second Wild Card, back when I got all hyperbolic about it being the death of baseball, so I could very well be wrong again. I certainly hope so.