I fell asleep. I fell asleep in the sixth inning. I fell asleep in the bottom of the sixth after witnessing three three-run home runs from both the Astros and the Dodgers. I fell asleep after watching Clayton Kershaw, the greatest pitcher of his time, fall apart as though he were comprised of rubber bands and someone was slowly snipping each one until there was nothing left to hold him together.
I fell asleep before the rest of the most nutso, bizarro, insane, nonsensical — and one of the longest — World Series baseball games of all time. What I didn’t see was somehow even more batshit crazy than what I did.
How do I feel about this? Terrible. I’m suffering from a horrible case of baseball FOMO, that devastating and crippling knowledge that you missed The Unbelievable Game Everyone Else is Talking About. While your friends, colleagues, and fellow Americans were riding the roller coaster of home runs, high fives, and heartbreak, you were fucking sleeping.
On the other hand, I got a solid eight hours, so I'm doing great.
Look, postseason baseball is a no-win situation when it comes to being a functional human. You either stay up to witness history with low-grade slumber anxiety (that thing where you look at the clock and count backward from your alarm to torture yourself thinking about how little sleep you're going get), or you go to bed and wake up the next morning, put on your hair shirt, and self-flagellate through the news cycle as you read about the incredible things you didn’t feel.
The reason I’ve typed the word “feel” so many times in this blog is because feeling is the point of the whole damn sport. Yes, you can always find out what happened the next day (thank you, Dad, for emailing me all those links), but you can't feel it.
I’m about to talk about the Red Sox for a few sentences, for which I apologize, but bear with me: One of my earliest memories — not sports memories, just memories — is asking my parents what it felt like when they watched the ball go through Buckner's legs.
My mom, who is more of an Orioles fan than a Red Sox fan but more of a Red Sox fan than a Mets fan, was like (and I’m paraphrasing, here), “We wanted to die.” As a 14-year-old, I fell asleep during the 2003 ALCS when the Sox battled the Yankees into 11 innings. I woke up the next morning and my mom had to tell me what happened. I groaned, then missed the bus because I refused to get out of bed. I wanted to die, not only because of the outcome, but because I missed seeing it with my own two eyes.
Last night’s game ended at 1:38 a.m. ET. It lasted 5 hours and 17 minutes. Now, you might think that this blog is about to veer into How To Fix Baseball territory — make the games shorter, add a pitch clock, make the players wear football helmets and allow hits — but it’s not.
Yes, baseball, as Grant Brisbee brilliantly wrote last night on approximately negative hours of sleep, is broken. There is no world in which a game like that takes place and everything is fine and normal. It's not, and hasn't been, and may not ever be again.
But just because baseball is broken doesn’t mean it should be fixed. There’s a reason I’m so messed up about not seeing all of that game — it was sublime. There’s no solution here; there’s just fact: The same reasons that make baseball incredible are also what make it cruel.
You wait all season, through 15 million games, to feel World Series thrills like last night’s. Games can be long and boring, but it just makes the “oh my god how is this happening!?” mean so much more. The tedium heightens the tension and the releases. Grant has written about this beautifully a lot, and I wrote about it re: rules changes and when the Indians lost.
So you have to make choices. As an adult fan, you either accept that you’re going to be a zombie for most of October and hope it doesn’t interfere with your job, your family, your mortgage payments, etc. As a kid, you come to terms with the fact that your grades will dip and you might not get into college, but that it will be worth it in the long run, because you’ll get to tell your kids what it felt like to watch Carlos Correa homer in the seventh. Or Alex Bregman hit a walk-off single in the 10th to win the damn thing.
Or you could go to bed, be good at your job, get into a good school, and miss the gut punches and the soaring highs.
At the end of the day, the bottom line is that baseball doesn’t care about you. If you care about baseball, you just have to accept that you will be low-key miserable on some level. Being a baseball fan is like being the emo kid in high school or the old man sitting on a park bench throwing pistachio shells at the happy folks who pass by; nothing will make you truly happy. You’ll either be tired and cranky but elated that you got to witness history, or you’ll be well-rested and hate yourself for missing it.
America’s pastime is really just a beautiful tradition of misery. And I (she said, weeping softly into her coffee) wouldn’t want it any other way.