I remember how it felt before the Giants won their first San Francisco World Series in 2000. I remember the Giants clearly having the best team – they had a ridiculous lineup, a solid rotation, and a good bullpen – and they entered the playoffs with the best record in baseball. It felt so awesome. There was no way the Giants were going to lose.
That didn’t work out so well. The 2000 NLDS crushed me just as much as the 2002 World Series. The 2002 team was a flawed team built around one of the top-five offensive performances of all time, and the heartbreak the team doled out was almost entirely due to how danged close they came. But that 2000 team…man. They were stacked. In retrospect, it was probably because of a certain company located in Burlingame that was able to do amazing things for ordinary people, but that was almost certainly the most complete Giants team I’ve ever watched.
When I wrote the following last night…
No dread here. There’s no foreboding feeling. Come on, you silly, silly playoffs. Show us.
…I received a few e-mails and stray comments asking if I was feeling okay. One e-mailer concluded that I was taking ecstasy. I was so offended that I had to turn down my 4hero album, and then turn it back up again and turn it back down because I liked the way the volume knob felt between my fingers. I guess I didn’t explain what I meant very well.
Along with everyone else here, I will be a bucket of liquid stress for each and every game, don’t get me wrong. Every pitch, every out, and every hit will make me react like a ferret making toast in a bathtub. But I’m not going to worry about the Rangers or their otherworldly players like Josh Hamilton and Cliff Lee. I’m not going to worry about why people seem obsessed with Matt Cain’s BABIP without mentioning C.J. Wilson, and I’m not going to worry if Tommy Hunter’s low strikeout rate means anything when compared to that of Madison Bumgarner.
I’m not going to worry about all that because none of this is going to represent anything other than a short series. Josh Hamilton isn’t going to get a hit in 35.9% of his at-bats this series. Cliff Lee isn’t going to allow 3.18 runs for every nine innings he pitches. They both might do far better. They might perform worse. Don’t know. Over a 162-game season, the difference between a 92-win team in the National League and a 90-win team in the American League is small. In a best-of-seven series, it’s pretty much meaningless.
I’m just a passenger on an airplane with a drunk pilot. There’s turbulence. My drink spilled into my lap, and the guy next to me smells. It’s the playoffs. Nothing I can do about it. But I’m not going to analyze the pilot’s blood-alcohol level, or pretend I know a lot about the mid-flight physics of a 757. The plane’s going to crash or it isn’t. Maybe that isn’t the best analogy to explain my lack of dread, actually, but it sort of fits.
I’m not scared of the Rangers, just as I wouldn’t have been scared of the ’27or the ’89 A’s. I’m scared of baseball. Baseball freaks me the hell out. Once I accepted that, I stopped worrying until the game actually starts.
Comment starter: Your mental state of mind, if you would.