You watch baseball for enjoyment, presumably. You don't do it because someone's making you, or because you hate yourself. You do it because when you sit down to watch baseball, you're expecting your brain to be rewarded with good-time/happy-time chemicals.
If the Giants win the World Series, your brain will be rewarded with more good-time/happy-time chemicals than should be possible. This is one half of the compact you have with baseball.
If the Dodgers win the World Series this year, or any other year, your brain will be filled with ash, and your mouth will taste of toenails. This is the other half of the compact you have with baseball.
There's a way to minimize everything. It's just baseball. It's just a game. I do it often; the perspective is necessary. But you can do that with anything. We're all just carbon. The universe will eventually collapse upon itself. Everything you know will eventually be gone. All we are is dust in the wind. If everything is meaningless, let's pretend the fun stuff is meaningful.
Which is to say this is the most important year of the most important rivalry in sports history, which makes it the most important series of events in all of recorded history. This is the beginning of that series of events.
Giants and Dodgers. Deep breaths.
This is the second year of the new Dodgers, the horrible team that would give Kevin Brown's famous contract to Kevin Brown the catcher -- like, today, even though he's 40 -- just to make a point. We had these feelings of doom and excitement last year, where the fears of watching the Dodgers succeed were balanced with the hopes of watching them fail. Then there was that Opening Day. Oh, man, that Opening Day.
I wish I had a classier, more erudite analogy, but all I can think about is Eddie Murphy's friend in Delirious. Okay, Dodgers. You got me. Alright. My mouth was open. My mouth was open on that one.
It was the worst feeling, an ominous feeling, the sense that it was going to be the Dodgers' year, that good things were going to happen to bad people. And other than a brief spell when it looked like the Dodgers were pretty bad, that ominous feeling lasted all year. We had to root for the Cardinals, dammit, the Cardinals. We sold pieces of our soul at auction, and there were no regrets. It was fun, even if we woke up with a Matt Holliday-flavored hangover.
This was also fun:
This rivalry is fun, until it isn't. I'm not prepared for the Dodgers to win a World Series, I'm just not. I enjoy pointing out that the Dodgers haven't won the pennant or a World Series since Satanic Verses was released, since "Dirty Diana" was a #1 single, since South of Heaven and … And Justice For All were released, before the Internet had more than two countries linked, the same year the first chocobo was released into the wild, the year that Rain Man won Best Picture, months after the Magnum P.I. series finale. I do so enjoy that, and I don't want to give it up.
This is the second season, then, that I'm rooting against the Dodgers almost as much as I'm rooting for the Giants. It's not just schadenfreude. It has to do with the aesthetics of competition and team-building. As in, the Dodgers can spend like drunken oil barons, fine, but at least they should have the courtesy to muff up the farm system, like the Yankees. Spending and producing young players at the same time is just tacky.
Yasiel Puig should hold out for a better contract, and he knows it, basically.
Even when the Giants are awful, this is why you watch baseball. Even when the Dodgers are awful -- or is that "especially"? -- this is why you watch baseball. And it makes you so danged nervous.
I'm so danged nervous. Kinda wish I weren't so danged nervous about the Dodgers and Giants this season. The Dodgers are everything that's wrong about baseball, which makes the rivalry everything that's right about baseball.
You know what to do, Giants. Don't screw it up.