It’s going away, isn’t it?

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My friend. My companion. That comfort at the end of a long day’s work, driving home, watching the sun go down, laughing, cheering, listening. It’s leaving me again, just as the world turns cold. It always leaves me just when the sun starts setting sooner, when the chill rolls in, when the leaves turn. Just when I need it the most, it’s gone.

My old friend and joy, baseball, is leaving me again this weekend.

The San Francisco Giants played their last home game of 2007 last night, made all the more bittersweet as, after fifteen crazy years, it was the last game Barry Bonds will play in a Giants uniform.

It was year of agony and ecstasy.

Ecstasy: The San Jose Giants, the Minor League Single A affiliate, and a group of young ‘uns near and dear to my heart performed a miracle. Coming on strong in the first half and falling off hard in the second half, they still earned their way into the playoffs and prevailed. They are the 2007 California League Champions. They played an amazing post season and just brutalized Lake Elsinore in game 5, the deciding game. I get goose bumps just thinking about it. This was a hard working team of guys who learned how to win, and a tip of the cap to manager Lenn Sakata for taking yet another team to the post season.

Agony: Their big brothers to the North, however, didn’t fare so well. With three games left, they’ve lost 89 games and are a gut-turning 18.5 games out of first place.

This was the season that Bonds broke the all-time homerun record, walloping 756 over the walls and into the history books. But all the media glare, both positive and negative, had an impact on the other 24 guys on the roster. Starting pitching was ok (I won’t “go there” about the pitiful year Barry Zito had…I just…can’t…), the bullpen was ridiculous and hitting was lame. They went up there with sad and tired bats. And our star catcher bitched about it to the press.

It was not a glorious year. It’s the latest in all the depressing seasons we’ve endured after the joys (and pain) of the 2002 World Series.

Ownership says 2008 is a “rebuilding” year. That means some young kids, some no names, and no hope of a post season for at least a couple more years.

But even in the agony of this terrible season, it was there. Baseball was on the radio every night, 162 games a year. The bases were still 90 feet apart and it was still 60 feet, six inches from mound to plate. The Umps still missed calls, players were plunked, miracles were performed and for me, all was all right with the world.

I had a day yesterday for the record books, and as I drove home, looking into the setting sun, sad, mad, exhausted, apathetic, beat down, and depressed as hell, I reached out and touched the “power” button on my radio, and suddenly Jon Miller’s voice boomed out from my radio speakers, “a called strike one!” and I left behind my troubles. My sorrow. My bone wearying exhaustion and I listened to the game. Smiling at strikes, frowning at balls and batting my hand on the steering wheel when the boys in orange and black got a hit and cheering loudly in my car.

I don’t give a rip about any of the teams in the post-season, although I may watch a few games. It’s not the same when it isn’t your team fighting it out.

*sigh* Now what? My baseball friend becomes a hockey fan in the off-season. I like hockey, but not with that fever reserved for baseball.

Guess instead, it’s time to start thinking about what in the hell I’m going to write 50,000 words about for the annual NaNoWriMo.

Heh…three years ago I wrote a baseball book……

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