King's Eye Land: Cycle of defeat continues for some; but wait until spring

"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when all the days are all twilight, when you need it the most, it stops. It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart." - Former Major League Baseball commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti, "The Green Fields of the Mind"

Let us take a moment for the losers.

Sunday, the Major League Baseball regular season mercifully came to a close, and with it closed the dreams of fans whose teams didn't quite make it this year.

I was one of those fans.

That's fine, though. We'll get them next year.

That's what we all say, isn't it?

Every year, the spring brings renewed hope, but by autumn, the truth of the serious contenders (usually the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves) shakes itself out. By late September, the Yankees are indeed there (big shock), along with the Braves (snore).

In a way, recent years have become clockwork. The rest of the teams who survive into the light of postseason are either total flukes or solid teams who will valiantly struggle and lose to the aforementioned perennials. (Although I have been shocked before, and the new labor agreement may change a few things.)

Still, every spring, everyone can say, "This is the year." Every fall, those who were wrong in the spring can say, "Wait until next year."

And so the cycle continues.

"You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." - Jim Bouton, "Ball Four"

When I was a kid, I'd make sure to be tuned into a fuzzy AM radio station that broadcast Cincinnati Reds games. Sometimes I'd be in a car, other times I'd be at a relative's - but I always made sure to have a radio within earshot, so I could feel connected.

I used to stay up late, listening to the radio quietly enough that my parents didn't know I was still awake. I'd listen to west coast games and often be awake until 1 a.m., rooting for the boys of summer, and accidentally wake my little brother when something good would happen. I couldn't sit still, and it's impossible to cheer silently.

As the familiar sounds of announcers on the radio and Chris Berman's "Back, Back, Back" fades into winter, football and basketball take over, but it's not the same. No two sports can match the magic of summer's finest game.

So the waiting begins. Winter is long, and that's a good thing - heartbreak takes time to heal. But unlike romantic heartbreak, true fans never give up, and always come back in the spring.

True fans learn to believe again, because winter is just too long and depressing to not hope for something bright at the end.

I'm no sports writer. I'm just a fan who hasn't celebrated a winning season in a while. I'm not holding a grudge any more than the next guy.

I'm just waiting until spring.

Write to John at


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