I heard from a number of my baseball friends today, checking in to make sure that I was okay after the double whammy of regular season collapses for both of the teams that I follow closely. The Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves historically failed to make the 2011 Postseason .. in spectacular fashion. I do not have to recap the gut wrenching play by play on this blog, there is plenty of that to go around, but I will admit that it is therapeutic to have a personal baseball site where I can share my experience.
Without burying the lede, I will come right out and admit that I am doing fine! Maybe in my younger years it would have taken weeks or months to get over this, but thanks to Baseballisms, Twitter, and an entire social network of baseball fans, I have discovered a finer appreciation of all that is Baseball. The game of Baseball with a capital “B”, supersedes my disappointment at the outcome. Would I have preferred that my teams were preparing today to make a playoff run? Sure, but the shared social experience of Games 162 of the 2011 regular season was something that I am glad to have been a part of.
It was thrilling. There are only a few times in my baseball watching life that were more enjoyable. It is not the outcome but the experience of epic baseball that rules for me now. That hasn’t always been the case. Maybe it’s a maturity, maybe it’s recognizing the generational aspect of the game and thinking about passing along this passion to my young girls. Most of all, I keep coming back to one thing about last night .. it was amazing to sit on my couch, flip MLB Package feeds, check the AtBat App, and share the night with thousands of equally connected fans, all enjoying the moment.
Baseball is social.
I had a social baseball experience with my buddy Adam in 1978, when we watched Bucky Dent pop a home run into the Green Monster netting. We were supposed to be cleaning up the Knights of Columbus banquet hall after school, but we spent the afternoon watching the big screen projection TV in the side room. We proudly reminisce about being the only 16 year olds hanging with the local “Townies” watching the game.
I had a larger social experience with my family and friends on the fateful night in 1986, when the Mets came back to take Game 6 at Shea. The stars aligned on that date and we were throwing a long planned 25th Anniversary party for my Mom and Dad that night. I will never forget my Mom proclaiming, “everyone will remember our Anniversary as the night the Red Sox finally won the World Series!” as the final half inning got under way. We huddled around a couple of TV’s to watch it all unfold. In an instant it seemed as if everyone in the house just vanished. Those who dare to mention it still laugh about my brother Kevin walking out the front door and roaming the neighborhood late into the night.
It’s not so much the losses, but the people I shared the experience with that have become the storyline for me. It’s the old “where were you when .. ?” question.
Maybe I would be more upset today if 2004 had never happened (for sure), and if I had not discovered the great pleasure of being a fan of the National League and specifically the Atlanta Braves. It was a graduate degree in baseball watching Bobby Cox all those years. I marvel at the quality pitching of this organization, and witnessed the legendary run of success up close and personal. I believe that the Braves will continue to be in contention for a long long time.
I guess the point of this is just to say, when they talk about The Great Collapse(s) of 2011 (and you know they will), what I will remember most is that we witnessed all of the drama together. I’m sure that there were small and large gatherings in many places, but there was something very cool that also happened. We were in Australia, and Germany, in California and New York and places in between where we all passionately watched one of the most amazing nights in baseball history.
My teams didn’t win .. but it was bigger than that.
Is it possible to get any better than the night of Games 162? Well … Let’s Play Ball, it’s the Postseason Baby!