I’ve found a way to handle the stress and nail-biting nature of this Orioles-Yankees series.
I have to admit I started doing this about midway through Game 1 on Sunday night. I wasn’t able to attend the game due to a previous golf-tournament-obligation, so when I got home from Philadelphia shortly after 7pm, I settled in and watched the rain delay for a while until the game started. I wasn’t at all certain how I’d deal with this shocking playoff appearance by the Orioles. Would I be nervous? (I was) Would I be like a 20-year old again, hopping around like Kevin Bacon in Footloose when the Birds did something big? (Probably)
Sometime around the 4th inning of Game 1, I figured it out.
I started treating the at-bats, innings, ups, downs and the results just like Buck Showalter treats them.
In other words, now I just watch the events that transpire on the field and try to disconnect myself from all it as much as possible.
My expression never changes during the game, just like Buck. I didn’t even get mad on Thursday night when the popcorn burned in the microwave in the 3rd inning. I thought to myself, “What would Buck do here?” So I just shrugged my shoulders, threw the burned popcorn away, and tossed in another bag.
On the field, I don’t let stuff get to me now. When Lew Ford got picked off of first base, I didn’t flip out. I just ate more popcorn, just like Buck would do.
I can’t do anything about any of the stuff going on between the lines. No sense in getting pissed off when Mark Reynolds swings at another ball in the dirt or Adam Jones reaches across the plate and slashes at a pitch a Little Leaguer wouldn’t touch.
I’ve just been watching.
Hell, during Game 4 on Thursday night, I flipped over to the VP debate and watched those two nitwits ramble on about nothing for five minutes or so. The only good news about the VP debate? Neither of them are running for President. Those two guys make the two running for the top office look like Rhodes Scholars.
And do you know what happened in the five minutes of Game 4 that I missed? Nothing. It was still 1-1. It’s like Earl Weaver going back to the dugout to sneak a smoke in the 1970′s. The game’s still there when you get back.
I took out the trash during the 7th inning and stopped to chat with a neighbor for a minute or two. I imagine if the trash needed to be taken out at Yankee Stadium (you can insert your own A-Rod joke here), Buck wouldn’t hesitate to say, “I’ll do it” and then he’d skip out for a minute or two and leave the team to manage itself.
When the Yankees had base runners all over the place, I wasn’t nervous. I was just like Buck. I watched it all and said to myself, “I’ll accept whatever happens here.” And nothing ever happened.
I haven’t thrown anything at the TV once during this series. When Raul Ibanez hit that HR in the 12th inning on Wednesday night, he wasn’t even at home plate when the room was dark and my head was on the pillow.
Nothing has bothered me at all in this series, just like nothing has bothered Buck. I love the winning, don’t get me wrong. It sure as hell would be cool for Baltimore to come alive next week with a couple of home games in the – wait for it – AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES vs. the Tigers. I’m reveling in this October theater like everyone else in town.
But if the Orioles don’t win tonight, I’ll get up tomorrow morning and go play golf at Mountain Branch and life will go on.
Just like it will for Buck Showalter.
And that’s what I’ve learned from Buck this week that’s made it a lot easier for me to watch these games.
Whatever happens, happens.
It’s fun to watch it that way.
And a lot easier on the nerves.