Baseball and Me 2010

2010 marked the first year since I moved to California in 1999 that I didn’t attend a single baseball game – and it’s probably been longer than that, since I was going to Brewers games regularly in Wisconsin, so my run may have stretched back to 1993.

I just wasn’t in a baseball frame of mind this year. I couldn’t work up any enthusiasm for fantasy baseball (and had a terrible draft, eventually finishing 15th out of 16 teams, the first time I’d missed the money since before the Red Sox broke the Curse). While I watched games on television and listened on the radio, I just wasn’t as interested as in past years. It didn’t help that the Red Sox were plagued by an amazing array of injuries and were basically out of it in August. (And despite that they still had the second-best offense in the AL, and the fifth-best record, and were probably even better than their record since they play in the toughest division in baseball. They were only out of it so early because the Yankees and Rays were both excellent themselves this year.)

And it’s not like it wasn’t an interesting baseball year, especially around here where the San Francisco Giants won their first championship since 1954, when they were still in New York. The Giants were a strange champion, with no true star on offense (though Buster Posey may develop into one over the next few years, and he had a fine rookie season), so they did it mostly with pitching, led by Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, two bona-fide aces (Lincecum reaches the Majors, wins 2 Cy Young awards, and then the World Series; what a life this kid has had and he’s still got most of his career ahead of him). But they struggled down to the last day of the season to win their division (which helps explain why Joe Posnanski ranked them as one of the weakest champions since World War II), and then won a string of 1-run games in the playoffs before finally dominating the Rangers in the World Series. But they always seemed to have just enough to win through when it really counted, and the team was generally a likable group of players, which made for fun and often exciting baseball.

As a capstone to my own baseball season, my friend Syd bought the two of us tickets to Game 6 of the series – and the Giants won in 5. Disappointing, especially since we would have had good seats and it would have been awesome to be at a World Series clinching game (or even any game). And it was weird to be rooting halfheartedly (and entirely self-interestedly) for the Rangers in Game 5, even though I knew I was really rooting for the Giants. (Leaving work that day, I said to a Giants-fan cow-orker of mine, “Go Rangers!” He snorted and responded, “Go home!”)

Then this week I learned that ESPN is dropping Jon Miller and Joe Morgan as the hosts of Sunday Night Baseball. While Morgan doesn’t quite drive me as crazy as he does some fans, I love Miller’s broadcasting, and I’m quite sad to see him go. Fortunately I’ll still be able to hear him broadcasting Giants games on TV and radio. Still, it’s the end of an era. (I’d suspected Morgan was planning to retire when they brought in Orel Hershiser this year as a second analyst; Hershiser has potential in the role, so I’m curious whether he’ll be brought back.)

Anyway, other than being happy for Giants fans, it’s been a glum baseball season for me. I’m not sure why my enthusiasm chose this year to crater, although part of it is having fewer friends to enjoy the game with. While I still talk baseball with local friends Subrata and Chris, my two most-enthusiastic baseball friends over the last decade have been Syd (who moved to Texas a few years ago) and Ceej (who seems to have dropped off the grid in recent years). And then other hobbies (e.g., Magic) have risen to take up a lot of time I might once have spent on baseball.

So I’ve gone from attending 15 baseball games a year to zero, and whether my enthusiasm will bounce back, I don’t know.