One thing I’ve learned doing this blog is that being a fan of any team is a very personal thing. Fans approach their love for their teams in a myriad of ways, and this is manifested when the teams are at their lowest point. After all, when the team is winning that is when all types of fans band together and celebrate. High fives are exchanged and wins are cherished, but when things go south the reactions are so varied.
For some being a fan is all about the payoff. It’s all about seeing the team win. There’s the portion of fans who are happy to have a good team, and there are others who aren’t satisfied unless the team wins a championship.
There are others where fandom is about the process, the journey. It’s about enjoying the beauty of the sport and hanging on each moment throughout a long season.
Some want to have players they like and respect and who represent the team well. Guys that you want to pull for, who you want to see succeed. Others don’t give a damn about character. It’s just win baby.
And when a season ends without that championship, the responses are very different. There are emotional responses, analytical responses, silver linings to search for, and blame to assign. Most fans seem to do all of the above to some extent.
With a very long preamble now out of the way, I in no way expect others to deal with this the way I am. This is just one moderately humble bloggers take.
On Monday night when Casey Blake jumped around the bases, it was a punch in the gut. Much like Curtis Granderson slipping in game 4 of the World Series I pretty much knew at that moment that playoff hopes were lost. It hurt going to bed, and it didn’t get any better when I woke up the next morning. But as I felt when game 5 of the series got underway, when the first pitch was thrown Tuesday night I was quite calm. Sure I still had a little bit of hope, but I also knew that barring something extraordinary the season was done. As the Indians launched an aerial assault on their own fans, it just became clearer. So instead of supreme frustration last night, it was merely a sigh.
I know that in time I’ll do a deep dive analysis. In the meantime I’m going to enjoy the last week of the Tigers season. I know that the games don’t have larger implications. It will just be enjoying baseball for the sake of baseball and spending a couple nights more nights at the ballpark soaking up those summertime sounds and smells. It’ll be a couple more nights laying in bed with my son while the Tigers and I tuck him in at night.
There’s a part of me that says, who cares, shut it off. But then there is the other part of me that knows there will be nights in January where I’m craving baseball. And I know in February I’ll be so excited to see a bunch of grown men laying in the outfield stretching as newspaper headlines say “Pitchers and Catchers Report.” And I’ll tune in at work when the Tigers play their first exhibition game against Florida Southern and I’ll be dreading the end of spring training where all I want are games that count. And then we’ll do the dance again.
And I can go into this last week knowing that despite the fact my team won’t be playing for anything, I had nightly entertainment for the last 6 months. I still have a team that went from being a joke for a decade to posting a 178-138 record over the last 2 years. I had a team where a young centerfielder made history. I saw a veteran who is past his prime put together the best offensive season I’ve experienced from a member of the hometown 9 and I want to see him hang on to his batting title for one more week.
Yeah, I’m more of an optimist. And yeah, the team broke my heart. But they also gave me so much more, and I’m going to keep taking from these last 9 games as I did from the 153 before. The good, the bad, the frustrating, the thrilling – I’ll take it all.