It would be disingenuous to say that the Brewers loss in Game 7 of the NLCS on Saturday night wasn’t disappointing, but at the same time, it can hardly be categorized as heartbreaking. As my friend said to me in the middle of September when the Brewers were embarking on a great run toward the playoffs, “We’re playing with house money.” No one expected the Brewers to play as well as they did in September, and few thought that a division title and advancing to the World Series was within the Crew’s grasp. It’s hard to be too upset when the team so overwhelmingly defied expectations.
And the playoffs led to such great times, too. I got to see a game with my old buddy from way back in grade school, I flew to California to attend one game with my daughter, drove up to Milwaukee to attend another with my son, and my wife and I gathered at my friend’s house for an evening of drinks, snacks and baseball on glorious high def. I got to hang out with my sister’s family several times, and I even got to see Christian Yelich hit for his second cycle in September with a couple of buddies. Not too shabby.
But all of this has led to a bit of a post-playoff hangover for me. Baseball had become such a glorious time-suck, that now suddenly, after weeks of having every bit of free time filled, the onus is on me to fill my time productively. No more evenings watching the game on TV, mornings reading about the same game on-line, and afternoons texting like-minded friends about strategy and predictions. No more restless nights with visions of the first World Series appearance in thirty-six years. No more games to look forward to. Now, instead of relying on others to entertain me, I have to entertain myself, which means tackling a basement project that I started last spring just as the 2018 baseball season was budding. It’s back to reality, and it’s not necessarily a reality I want to face.
Still, I have another baseball season to look forward to, when I’ll once again set aside my personal aspirations in favor of the aspirations of others, and go along for the ride. As disheartening as the end of this year’s playoffs was for the Brewers – being literally one good bullpen outing and one hit away from actually sweeping the Dodgers in four games – less disheartening is the core of players that are sure to return next year, and how that core might evolve. Brewers owner Mark Attanasio commented on Saturday that the end of 2018 feels different than in 2011, when the Brewers lost the NLCS in six games. That year felt like the end of something, where this year feels like it’s just the beginning.
My unmotivated self can’t wait.