Reality: You’re Soaking in It

Where do I even begin? That this isn’t the way I’d wanted to see the season end seems so beyond doubt that it hardly bears mentioning, and yet I just mentioned it. Even though a thing is obvious, it still needs a voice.

I hate writing this. I hate thinking this. Honestly? I hate everything about this.

But you can’t go through life hating, right? Well, you can, but it’s probably not a good idea. Besides, it’s just baseball.

“Just baseball.” I hate that, too. Like that somehow negates it all, makes the experience less important, less real. Yeah, buddy, screw you.

Anyway. Now you see the problem. I can’t even get started. Do I whine about Monday night’s outcome (box score), or do I express gratitude at having witnessed a tremendous game that most teams didn’t have the right to play? Do I make excuses for Jake Peavy, Brady Clark, and Trevor Hoffman, or do I give the Rockies their props for outplaying our guys?

Yeah, I said it. They outplayed the Padres. Deal, yo.

Or maybe we can think about Milwaukee. Sure, let’s play “what-if” there instead. Why did Hoffman throw eight bazillion change-ups in a row? What if he shows Tony Gwynn Jr. a fastball? (What if Gwynn hits it?) Or perhaps we’ll go back further and pin the blame on Mike Winters for baiting Milton Bradley, Bradley for gobbling it up, and Bud Black for taking out his own guy in the process. Or we could…

Here’s what happens when you go down that road. Aside from the fact that you make yourself miserable, you’re not even being honest with yourself. Replace every “should have” throughout the course of a 163-game season with “could have” and see what happens. When you say “should,” you’re basically conceding that games don’t even need to be played. Yeah, probability and all that. Okay, fine; I get it. But on the field, none of that matters. The only legal tender currency is what actually happens — you may know it better as reality.

Painful? Sometimes, yes; sometimes, no. But it remains constant even as it constantly changes.

I’m not making sense again. Sorry, it’s been that kind of life.

Another approach would be to take pride in knowing that the Padres, despite missing two of their starting outfielders and getting negative contributions from the best starting pitcher and best reliever in franchise history, pushed an improbably hot Colorado team to the edge of a mile-high precipice. This one might work better a few months from now, when the throbbing is less intense.

How can we reflect at a time like this? How can we analyze and be philosophical? Why would we want to even if we could? Now that the season’s over, it’s not like there’s a sense of urgency. Grieve, mourn, vent. Whatever it takes. Then sort through the rubble over the winter and return in spring with maybe a more prominent chip on the collective shoulder.

We can’t play in the big game? But, but… well, then, do it already. Nobody gives us respect? Oh, but they do; they give us exactly as much respect as we have earned. Want more? Okay, play better. Until then, suck it up like everyone else and get back to work.

The Padres have completed their fourth straight winning season. That’s the first time in franchise history if you’re scoring at home. They’ve made the transition from lousy/mediocre to good. How do they get from there to great? I don’t know, and I’m not prepared to think about it just yet.

I do know that this organization is in better shape than ever and that the better it gets, the more I want. This is a credit to the folks who run the club but also a burden for them. Not that the Padres have anywhere near the same track record, but I’m beginning to understand why the Braves couldn’t sell out home playoff games in the ’90s. At some point, as obnoxious as it sounds, reaching the playoffs isn’t enough.

To say nothing of not reaching the playoffs…

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Man, this post sucks. I keep writing because… well, I don’t know what else to do. Is it spring yet?