Saturday, June 24, 2017

Summers of despair

So now that the NBA draft is over, and Magic Johnson has anointed a kid one year out of high school the leader of the Los Angeles Lakers (no pressure there for poor Lonzo Ball, an apparently nice young man who already has to deal with his dad), it's to time shake open the metaphoric morning paper.

Let's turn to the baseball standings, kids!

Why, look, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are tied for first in the AL East. As ever. Can we not get anything but reboots these days?

And, hey, check this out: My Pittsburgh Pirates are not only not in last place the NL Central, they're actually tied for third this morning with the Cardinals. Why, they're three whole games clear of the cellar! Breathing down the Cubs' necks! I mean, they're not going anywhere but home in October, but that's somethin', right?

Meanwhile, in the NL West ...

Wow. The once-lordly San Francisco Giants are dead last. And here's the number that really catches your eye: They're 22-and-a-half games out of first place.

Twenty-two-and-a-half. On June 24.

Every baseball season produces this sort of scenario, of course, because the Law of Baseball dictates that if there are winners ,then  there surely must be losers. And not just losers, but epic losers. Losers who can't win for losing. Losers who lose almost all the time.

And so if you pull up any year in the 1950s -- 1955, let's say -- you'll find the Yankees at the top of the American League at the end of the season (of course), and the Washington Senators at the bottom (also of course). The Senators, this particular year, finished 43 games out of first place. Forty ... three ... games. That means they lost the pennant by almost 30 percent of the then 154-game schedule.

So, yeah, it happens. All the time. And it's worth noting that the Giants aren't alone on this lovely summer morning; the Padres, just ahead of them in the West, are 18-and-a-half games out, and the Phillies, with the worst record in baseball, are 19-and-a-half out in the NL East.

Still: Twenty-two-and-a-half games behind. On June 24.

What must that clubhouse be like right now? How numb to baseball's already numbing daily routine must they all be? With how much horror must they realize they're already hopelessly out of it, and the season still has more than three months to run?

And, yeah, sure, most of these guys get paid gobs of money to play a child's game. The child's game, once upon a time in America. And so even if you're 22-and-a-half games out, you can still concentrate on your personal numbers, the better to make even more gobs of money on your next contract.

And yet ... don't you think they all have to fight the urge to place a phone call to baseball commissioner Rob Manfred's office?

Manfred: Yes, can I help you?

Unidentified Giant: Can we just go home now? Please?

Now, granted, it's summertime (and one glorious morning here where the Blob lives). And they're still playing baseball. So maybe the Blob overstates all of this a bit.

Or, you know, not.

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