Like millions of people, I’ve suffered from SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. My spirits fade with the light, darken in direct proportion to the lengthening shadows, turn gray with the clouds that bring winter rains and snow. But the other evening as I was leaving my office and learned Game Six of the World Series had been rained out, I realized that my affliction isn’t really SAD at all, it’s BAD – Baseball Affective Disorder.
For most of the year I'm able to hold off BAD with the help of my city's team, the San Francisco Giants. Via radio, television, newspaper sports pages and summer nights at Big Phone Bill Park, the 2010 World Series winners were a hugely entertaining diversion. Players like The Freak (Tim Lincecum), the Panda (Pablo Sandoval), the Beard (Brian Wilson), baby-faced Darren Ford, the slightly seedy Aubrey Huff, choir boys Matt Cain and Freddy Sanchez and the budding Natural, Nate Shierholtz, had all become part of the everyday fabric of my life.
I realize of course that these people are literally strangers, but their exploits united our city in a thousand intangible ways. I could always ask a passing stranger wearing Giants gear how the team had done that day and get a friendly, heartfelt response. With our almost daily connection through baseball, we had become something more than fans.
We had become family.
Take the brutal, season-ending injury to catcher Buster Posey (please!). It wasn’t just the loss of the 2010 Rookie of the Year and sparkplug of the World Series. It was the demise of a favorite son, the felling of the longed-for-hero who had helped redeem our baseball "family" from a legacy of failure. Buster was the youngest sibling making good, the child who actually absorbed the game’s stated virtues of devotion, humility and excellence. He done us proud.
No other sport allows for this level of intimacy. Basketball, hockey, soccer are simply too fast, with little space between the action to reminisce or embellish with tales, legends, myths. Football’s plodding pace comes closest, but there are only 16 games – as opposed to baseball’s 162 – played weekly. Everyone knows it takes more than one day a week to hold a relationship together.
No matter how bad things get – and this has been a bad year for me, with two close friends succumbing to cancer and another fighting for her life – I always look forward to a baseball game somewhere. Even without my favorite players on the field, the game's stateliness and pace bring me comfort. To turn on the radio or TV and hear the laid-back voices of announcers, the conversational tone of the crowd and demonstrative crack of the bat helps keep winter and its chilly silences at bay.
Thinking more about it, maybe the rainout of Game Six of the Series was a good thing. It helped extend the season one day longer and postpone the onset of BAD, an affliction guaranteed to last from the final out of the season to the opening tosses of Spring Training.
Unless I go to Mexico to catch some winter ball, which I've done in the past. I'll do almost anything to counteract BAD. Even watch the Yankees.