Our intra-division rival/sister ship/co-doormat/frienemies in misery, the Kansas City Royals, managed to win the AL Wild Card game against the Oakland Athletics last night. It happened in dramatic fashion -- a walkoff single in the bottom of 12th after the A's had held leads in the top of the 9th and the top of the 12th.
Baseball is a poor sport to follow if you're the retributive type. Teams, managers, and front offices seem as likely to be punished for making the "right" move as often as for making the "wrong" one, highlighting how difficult it is to gain any kind of sizable or enduring advantage in the competition for wins. The leaders of the sport have exacerbated this effect by introducing a play-in game, an event that's roundly acknowledged as an arbitrary way to decide who should advance in the playoffs but is written off with a half-shurg and a smirk -- "Well isn't the whole point to be arbitrary and exciting?"
Perhaps. As I felt an entirely childish, Royals-directed anger rise up inside of me, I thought of this video about Phil Fish. (Don't ask me how or why I saw that, or what it's really about -- I do not know who Phil Fish is and don't play video games). The video makes an astute point about the nature of hating in public, through the lens of Nickelback.
Millions of people assert they hate Nickelback -- not "play-hate" but really hate, frothing at the mouth-ingly so. What the video points out is that this hate for Nickelback isn't based on any particular characteristic of the band -- were they a Canadian bar band, few would care what their music was like. Instead, much of the hate is hatred for a system that one is simultaneously invested in and yet disrespected by. In other words, people hate that Nickelback is able to be a huge band -- that the way albums are recorded, marketed, and judged has led us to this place, where a band as totally bland and uninteresting as Nickelback, a band that makes dozes of terrible choices with regards to being rock stars, somehow became one of the biggest bands in the world.
And, that, I think, is why anger towards the Royals welled up inside me. I had spent a year watching Ned Yost make decisions I perceived as "wrong", and that agitated me (my problem, not his). Then, a system I'm invested in rewarded him for it, even if through an arbitrary test.
Anyway, whether or not you're able to enjoy it on Royals fans' behalves probably says something about how dark the night of your soul is. Mine's a long way from any light pollution, it appears.
The Pirates host the Giants tonight in the NLWC at 8 PM on ESPN.
The Wild Card
The Royals Beat The A's - MLB.com — All the highlights and play-by-play you can stand.
The Royals Beat The A's, And We Are Super Sad - Athletics Nation — What a year for Oakland. What a strange, turbulent, terrible year.
The Royals Beat The A's, And We Are Super Happy - Royals Review— RR ruined our collective regional innocence a long time ago, but they did show out with 501 comments (and counting) on a game recap. Anybody else remember 2007?
Joe Posnanski Hasn't Written On This Yet— But he did post this Instagram that made me realize how much what I wrote above doesn't matter. Onward, KC. Spaceships don't come equipped with rearview mirrors.
The Wild Card Commentators Were Terrible
Moss Misses Cespedes, They Insist - @BMcCarthy32 — The thinking man's favorite professional baseball tweeter got some swings in, as he does.
The Wild Card Ads Were Terrible
Don't Orphan Your Dog Through Drunk Driving - Budweiser — WHAT? Run that by me one more time?
Your ED Is No Big Deal, Insists Sultry British Temptress - Viagra — SERIOUSLY? Am I on a hidden camera show? Am I trapped in that crazy scotch ad?
Anything going on in Cleveland?
Zack Meisel drops off his recap - Cleveland.Com— The Meisel-stro runs us through his good, bad, and bizarre. Did everyone else forget that the guy from the Reds bullpen who threw the ball on the field was named Jumbo Diaz?
Jon Steiner on the Cleveland management's fan-perception problem - WFNY— The latest salvo in a dialogue that's been around since I was wet behind the ears, Steiner does a nice job deflecting the 'FRIE SHAPANETTI' crowd.
These Folks Are Nervous
Grant Brisbee helps Giants fans learn to hate the Pirates - McCovey Chronicles — Best he can come up with is that Giants fans already hate Russell Martin.
Edinson Volquez is ready to go for Pirates - Bucs Dugout— Well, that would make me nervous, but I don't really follow the NL.
Sigh.... How many days until pitchers and catchers?