The Baseball Desert

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Group therapy

Friday's game was ugly - and I mean cover-your-eyes, hide-behind-the-sofa ugly. I sat through all 3 hours and 40 minutes of pain, which were made bearable only by the virtual presence of the members of the Surviving Grady message board.

Given my geographical location, Major League baseball is generally a solitary pastime for me. I can't go to games, and nobody I know would want to come on over at 1am to watch them on MLB.TV, so I'm resigned to pulling up a chair in front of the PC and silently screaming and yelling at the screen. There are, however, certain games which require company, games which will eat you alive if you sit and watch them alone, and Yankee games fall into this category.

Much is made of the Yankees / Red Sox rivalry (too much, according to some), but not all of it is hype. Every time the Sox play, I want to see a win, but this is especially true of games against the Yankees - there's a history with these two teams which underscores these games, be it in April or October. On paper, it's just another notch in the 'W' or 'L' column, but it often feels like much more - the results are magnified, the errors uglier, the home runs more triumphant. This intensity means that it's hard for me to watch these games alone, and so I find refuge on the message board. I have to admit to being a tourist on there - I only stop by occasionally, because watching the game and commenting on it simultaneously means having to have the MLB.TV window reduced down to its smallest possible format, and a 3" window on a 17" monitor is a waste of good space.

I've met none of the people on the message board - it will happen one day, and I guarantee that the beers will be on me - but I read their blogs religiously, and I know that I will find a bunch of people who take these games seriously, people who are as nervous and intense about the games as I am, hanging on every pitch, every bloop single, every call to the bullpen. Despite it being the company of strangers there's a sense of shared experience which makes the game all he more enjoyable when it's a win, and if not pleasant then at least bearable when it's a loss. Of course, even wins can be fraught with tension and issues, but they become our issues, not just mine, and that makes it easier to get through the nine innings.

So, I'll hopefully be back on the message board tonight: it's Wakefield against Randy Johnson. Knuckles and Big Units - the possibilities for innuendo-laden jokes are endless. Bring it on...