Peeking in the Candy Store Window

This is one of those days that you both look forward to and dread with equal measures. Today marks the beginning of the 2008 Major League Baseball post season. It is play-off time! This is what we wait for. After a 162 game season the final eight teams have been chosen and the real fun begins. We’ve all heard the cliché that the baseball season is a marathon. It lasts from April through September and we shouldn’t read too much into each of the wins and losses. Over the course of the season they will average out and the good teams will rise to the top. If the regular season is a marathon, the play-offs must be a sprint. The first team to win 11 games will be crowned World Champion.

As a life-long baseball fan I get excited at the beginning of the post season. Each game is like a miniature season itself. The decisions made before and during the game seem to be magnified during the play-offs. The pressure associated with playing October baseball feels thick enough that you could cut it with a knife. Each series has enough story lines, plots, and sub-plots to keep Hollywood working for months.

I find myself struggling this year. I think part of the reason is the fact that I still feel as though the Arizona Diamondbacks should be playing in the post season. It’s one thing when your team is eliminated early in September but when it comes down to the final few games of the season and you see the hopes and dreams float away; that is almost too much to take. Maybe I would feel differently if I hadn’t been so close to the situation.

I was there and witnessed the demise of the Arizona Diamondbacks right before my very eyes. I was at Chase Field in early September when the Diamondbacks gave up 2 games to the Los Angeles Dodgers. I was in Los Angeles when the Diamondbacks were swept and moved into second place for the first time since early April. I watched as Arizona gave up opportunity after opportunity and let the Los Angeles Dodgers off the hook by handing them the National League Western Division title.

As a result, I sit at home watching the Dodgers as they take on the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field knowing that it could have been us. We could have been watching Brandon Webb pitching against Ryan Dempster on a crisp fall evening with the wind blowing in. We could have waited patiently for game 2 with Dan Haren facing Carlos Zambrano hopeful that the Diamondbacks would return to Chase Field with at worst a split or possibly seeing Randy Johnson return to the post season to clinch a sweep against the visiting Cubs.

Instead we will watch Russell Martin, Andre Ethier, Manny Ramirez and the other Dodgers take the field. There is nothing that will turn a guy into a Cubs fan quicker than watching the Dodgers run out onto the field. Perhaps if the Dodgers lose this series and make a quick exit from the playoffs it will somehow make us feel better but I doubt it. I feel kind of like I just got hit in the back with a Randy Johnson fastball. This definitely hurt and I am not going to forget it for a very long time; at least 187 days.

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