Baseball in October Is the Ultimate Productivity Buster

I thought I was going to work this afternoon. But Major League Baseball (MLB) has scheduled a virtual playoff game between the Oakland A’s and the Texas Rangers at 3:35 pm ET. The Rangers have seen their lead over the A’s dwindle from 13 games around the half-way mark of the season to four games last Friday to zero today. (Disclosure: I spent the first 18 years of my life in Ft. Worth, and I haven’t been able to shake my loyalties to Texas-based sports teams.) I plan to record my hours this afternoon as “religious holiday.” Strictly speaking, Sukkot lasts until October 7.

I thought I was going to sleep at a reasonable hour last night. But the Red Sox blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning against the Yankees. Had the Red Sox held on, the Orioles would have been tied for first place with one game left. As it now stands, one game separates the Orioles from the Yankees. Why should I care? Because the Orioles haven’t been to the playoffs since 1997, and because I hate the Yankees with every fiber of my being. (A slight digression: I had my gloves confiscated on a chilly October evening by a thug/fan in Yankee Stadium during the Rangers-Yankees 2010 American League Championship Series. At least I wasn’t spit on, like Cliff Lee’s wife.)

I thought I was never going to fall for the Washington Nationals. But the team holds the best record in baseball (along with the Cincinnati Reds), and it features a 19 year old (Bryce Harper) who, according to Tom Boswell of The Washington Post, was the best offensive player in baseball since August 29, leading the league in runs, extra-base hits, and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (1.106) with 10 homers. The Nationals also feature former A’s starter, Gio Gonzales, who was 5-1 with a 1.34 ERA during that stretch. Imagine how many wins the A’s would have this year with Gonzales, a 21-game winner with the lowest opponents’ batting average (0.206) in the National League!

There is a buzz in D.C. that I haven’t felt since landing here in 1994 for graduate school. The last time a D.C.-based baseball team made the playoffs was 1933, which makes it hard for anyone to boast that they attended both playoff series: A ten year old who attended the ’33 series would now be 89 years old and is deserving of front-row seats. According to my ethical adviser, it is perfectly reasonable to have feelings for two MLB teams so long as they hail from different leagues (American versus National).

As a Ranger fan, I would like nothing more than sweet revenge against the Cardinals (2011) or the Giants (2010). I remember holding the phone in my hand in the bottom of the ninth inning of game six of the World Series last year, eager to call my dad to celebrate the championship. In light of what happened, I postponed the call until the next morning. (Nelson Cruz should not have been playing right field!) But I would happily settle for a series with Washington, the city that lost its franchise (the Senators) to Texas in 1972 (after having lost an earlier franchise to Minnesota in 1961). Of course, the Rangers need to get past those pesky A’s, who boast a 49 and 25 record in the second half.

If baseball in October doesn’t get your heart pounding, visit a cardiologist. You might be dead. Now back to work. You only have a few hours left before that “religious holiday” begins.


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