After credibly imitating a .500 team for much of the season, the pretense fell out from under us against the Cardinals this past week. A back-to-back doubleheader was a brutally efficient way to decrease winning percentage while increasing anguish. It was forty eight hours of losing and almost-losing. It was a Hurricane Dorian of a weekend– an unending barrage of wind and rain and giving up runs in the ninth.
I grew up having faced zero hurricanes and then, upon moving to Florida, experienced five in a three-month span. What wears you down in a hurricane isn’t just the rain or just the wind or the occasional tornado– it’s all of them, all the time, for days and days. In my first hurricane, I spent approximately 36 hour watching the same small tree outside my apartment bend slightly to the left. Sometimes, for variety, I sat in the bathtub when the tornado sires when off. Then the TV blinked off, then the phone lines went down, which was annoying, but offset by the opportunity to read all day and roast marshmallows over Sterno. The pleasantness of this was immediately offset by the discovery that the Publix down the street had somehow lost its ability to magically make food reappear on its shelves.
When I drove to a friend’s house to get a cell phone signal, it was a tour of destruction. A McDonald’s M laid bare of its fiberglass, the metal form beneath squashed over to one side. A giant tree uprooted. Yard waste and yard waste and yard waste. It was the weight of so much wind and rain over time that did the damage, even though we in Orlando never experienced actual hurricane conditions. The battering was a matter of sustained and concentrated attrition.
Hurricanes are frustrating in their own right and terrifying in the hovering and the maybes: It could turn, it could barrel straight for us. Dorian is slapping right at where I used to live, the Space Coast. Recently a different hurricane wiped out the apartment where I used to live and another replaced it. The leasing company had just finished rolling out the awnings.
So went this season. Not just one game, or one player, or one baserunning decision. A whole season of missed opportunities, botched saves, and lack of offense. Nine or ten baseball games with a one-run loss are recoverable; over thirty are not. We may not notice it much when we’re in the moment, but a destruction tour of the season reveals the squished M of it all.
The questions we had at the beginning of the season (“Get back to me after Memorial Day. Get back to me after the All-Star break”) have been answered. We don’t like most of the answers, but at least we know there are giant felled trees and not just rumors of them. The winds weren’t quite as damaging as we feared, but they still left behind stripped shelves and a wearying sense of the need to start over yet again.