It’s been a strange few days. A strange few weeks, actually. I’ve been, for most of September, sleeping with the enemy. Last week, after spending most of the season – the past few years, actually – talking shit about the Baltimore Orioles, I found myself rooting for them. And they did good, so good, taking three out of four from the Boston Red Sox. At Fenway Park. Baltimore! I still almost don’t believe it.
Over the weekend, along with the rest of the universe, I was cheering on the Tampa Bay Rays. Over my own Toronto Blue Jays. Disgusting, I know, unconscionable, but I was thinking bigger picture: The collapse of the Red Sox. Which meant, over the weekend, that I was also rooting for the New York Yankees. I hadn’t wished victory upon the Yankees that much since the 2004 ALCS. I wanted New York to pound the Red Sox, to crush their collective soul, and that of the Massholes’ as well. Over the span of a week and a half, I found myself cheering for every team in the American League East save for Boston. I hate Boston. All the cool kids do.
You see, above all else, all I wanted from September was a race. I knew the Blue Jays weren’t going to give me anything, except for their continued, and now boring, dance with .500, and I wanted some drama. Any drama. And, as unlikely as it seemed at the beginning of the month, how September has delivered. Tampa Bay was 8.5 games back of Boston on September 1. Today, they’re tied. The Rays have closed the gap. Actually, Boston, with their shittacular play, has closed the gap for the Rays. And that’s what’s made the race so bloody beautiful. I don’t know why, but I absolutely love to see Boston squirm. Actually, I do know why: It’s Boston’s sense of entitlement, and, most recently, ESPN Magazine’s Boston-inspired issue, “Welcome to Boston, Loozah!” Ugh.
There’s a race out in the National League, too, the St. Louis Cardinals, in what might be Albert Pujols’ last season in the Gateway City, trying to pull off a miracle of their own. While I’ve been focused on — and by “focused on” I mean “enjoying profusely” — the Red Sox’s collapse, Atlanta’s had one of their own. The Braves were up 8.5 games on the Cardinals on September 1, too. Today, the Cards are a game back. While St. Louis has the favorable schedule, history is on Atlanta’s side: They’ve got Eric Hinske, my generation’s Mr. October.
This is why baseball’s the best. This is why I always say “maybe next year,” because if eight-and-a-half game leads can disappear in less than a month, nothing is impossible. This is why anyone who tells you “the baseball season’s way too long” has no idea what they’re talking about. A hundred and sixty-two games, and each and every one of them matters, right down to the last one.
Last night, Baltimore did it again. Robert Andino is officially my new favorite baseball player. I still can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ve got Orioles fever. Baltimore’s trolling Red Sox Nation, and I love them for it. I’ll never call them the OriLOLes again. Finish the job, Baltimore. It’s for the greater good.