I'm having a harder time getting excited about the post-season than usual. I suppose familiarity might be the culprit -- I've seen several great articles (here's my favorite, from Claire McNear at The Ringer) about why even Giants fans might be feeling a little sheepish about rooting for their guys to take it all yet again, especially when teams with long droughts are in the mix. Under any other circumstances, I'd be rooting for the Cubs to take it all the way, and hell, maybe a part of me still even is (shhhh no no baseball gods if you're listening i'm sorry i promise i didn't say it out loud).
But probably more importantly, this season has been a freaking roller coaster, and not in the fun and exciting way. I've wondered how I would feel about this playoff run if the first and second halves of the season had been flipped. Imagine a team that struggled to score runs and suffered a severe bullpen meltdown near the beginning of the season, putting up the worst record in the major leagues before the All-Star Break, and then came roaring back to have the best second-half record in baseball and eke out the last playoff spot in the final moments of the season by sweeping their oldest and most bitter rival. (Well, I say "imagine", but I don't have to imagine -- that scenario isn't too different from what actually happened in 2010.) Instead, it happened the other way around: the Giants contended with the Cubs to be the most unstoppable team, piling up a 10-game lead in the division at the break, with the collapse to follow. First team in history to have the best recording in baseball before the break, and the worst record in baseball after. It was frustrating, especially to see so many late inning leads pissed away by the relievers and not regained by batters who looked helpless at the plate. It got to the point where I avoided watching games, even if the Giants were leading late, because there was such a high chance of walking away frustrated.
And yet, somehow, in the end, it was just enough. The Giants got into the Wild Card game, and they set up the rotation such that Madison Bumgarner would be able to pitch, and he did his unstoppable playoff thing (the man has a 0.50 ERA in road playoff games, do I need to tell you how ridiculous this is), and a hitter that no one outside of San Francisco and barely anyone IN San Francisco has ever heard of got a home run, and the Giants beat the Mets, and here we go again, up against an unstoppable playoff juggernaut that no one expects them to beat (the Phillies, the Cardinals, the Nationals, now the Cubs), and if it's all feeling very familiar I have a hard time blaming anyone outside of San Francisco for rolling their eyes and saying "really?" But here's the thing about a sports dynasty: you never know when it's going to end, but someday it will end, and there's no guarantee it will ever come back. And so you have to grab on to it, enjoy it while it lasts.
So that's why I'm here, dressed in the orange and black, arranging my schedule to be home to watch the first game of the NLDS tonight, and once the boys are out there, I will get excited and ready for a win. Because you never know what's going to happen. I'm ready to enjoy the ride.
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