Meaningful Games: Twenty-Two Years

It’s childlike, this feeling, this joy, the joy of watching your team capture something like this. Childlike because it is unrestrained and boisterous, and childlike too because it’s been so long since you saw it. How old were you in 1993? You were sixteen, you were ten, you were just a babe. And it felt good, then, like a thing you’d always wanted, when you didn’t know just how long always could be. You hadn’t thirsted for something through adulthood’s frustrations and privations, through its assaults and pricks. You hadn’t stuck by something seemingly futile. You hadn’t really suffered with your guys.

So now that they’ve done this—and to be clear, this isn’t enough, this is only one step closer, but still, it’s something wonderful—you see just how you’d internalized that, the losing, the not-quite-winning-enough, the third- and fourth- and fifth-place finishes, so that all that was left of the big years was a set of memories, stashed-away souvenirs, and a yearning so old you’d accommodated it physically, like shrapnel, or the dull pain of ancient heartache.

Because grownup happiness is a complicated thing, there may yet come a moment, amid this joy, of fond sadness for the ones who played and excelled but never knew a celebration like this, or did, but not for this team. Roy Halladay, you’ll think to yourself, should have had the chance.

The constancy of loss has become so familiar, so comfortable, that it will take some time to reorient yourself amid this new feeling. The last two months have been like that, really, as the team reeled off win after win, scoring six, eight, ten runs a night, and time and again their new ace strode off the mound having rendered impotent the bats of the Yankees, the Rangers, the Orioles. It felt like a strange and wonderful baseball dream.

But it’s real. Baseball does that. Every so often it cracks open the door to permit something seemingly impossible. A team sits a game below .500, treading water, makes a few moves at the deadline, and then erupts. Spends two months winning at a torrid pace and takes its division. That it happened to a team that has not played a meaningful game in October since Kim Campbell was the Prime Minister of Canada only makes it more beautiful. Scarcity inflates value.

We’re on our third PM since those last great days, and you’ve been here that whole time, moaning, griping, lamenting—but showing up, tuning in, and dutifully buying up new gear as the team changed logos more often than they changed general managers. It’s been a hell of a long time, but at least there was baseball to watch.

Yes, twenty-two years is an awfully long time, but the wait is over. The drought is over, and you feel like a kid again; you’re so happy because you’ve wanted this so badly. Or better still: you’re all grown up, and you need this.

A pennant-race dispatch from Invisible author Andrew Forbes (What You Need). In April 2016 we’ll be releasing The Utility of Boredom, a collection of Forbes’s baseball essays.

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