A Fall Snobs Tale of Baseball

J. Sam Williams

Autumn is my favorite time of year.
 

Big deal, it's a lot of people's favorite season.

I live in California, in the Sacramento area, where fall is suffocation. The month of September, a month all about apples and pencils, was around 90 degrees all month. Do the leaves change? No. No they don't. What about all the Trader Joe's Pumpkin food? Is that there???

Of course, it's Trader Joe's.

Here's the thing. I'm from New England. I spent 13 years there growing up in New Hampshire where the real maple syrup is, the leaves actually turn red and orange, not just yellow, and where apple cider is everywhere. I've lived in the mid-Atlantic, the mid-west, and now the west.

Actual nice fall

Actual nice fall

Everywhere else in the United States sucks at fall.

Am I an autumn-snob? Maybe, I prefer to think that everyone else just hasn't experienced what an actual fall is supposed to be.

When I was going to college in the mid-west, I remember some of my fellow classmates--those from California, or Florida, any place where they'd never seen fall before--complimented the fall. Oh the air is so crisp! The leaves actually do turn colors! This pumpkin-spiced latte is so good.

 

Shut the Front Door.

 

Sure the air got colder, but there wasn't a real crisp to it. My fellow students didn't know the feeling when you breath, and you instantly become aware of how much air isin your lungs. They don't know the pain of that freezing feeling filling your lungs with each breath as you walk around with hand warmers, hiking Mt. Washington in the midst of an everlasting color pallet of leaves and trees. They couldn't possibly realize just how amazing it is to hold a warm beverage, letting the steam warm your nose.

Oh look, REAL fall colors

Oh look, REAL fall colors

It's strange now, living on the West Coast. People here don't realize the wicked big deal Autumn is in New England. They don't understand what "leafers" are, or the fact that between the end of September and the middle of October all hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts and even your great-aunt's shed will be booked as the northern states of New England are invaded with wealthy white people, some with families, some with romance on the mind, and some just having a sexcation.

They cannot fathom how "fall activities" are a must. You're not a local if don't go out for a drive to see the leaves. You're not a true New Englander if don't go to an actual pumpkin patch (not just the grocery store) and pick a pumpkin from the ground, tearing it out of the bit of roots it call home. It's not just a cute part of life, fall, IT IS LIFE.

People here on the West "play" fall. They don't experience it. And ever since I moved to Cali, I lose my mind this time of year. Sure, you can go on hayrides, walk through a maize maze, pick apples, see a yellow leaf, and get hot apple cider donuts (I just did a bunch of that this weekend), but for goodness sake, the magic of autumn doesn't exist here.

 


You know what else doesn't exist here? The magic of fall baseball.

Don't get me wrong. There is some great baseball here. The Giants are tied with Red Sox for most World Series wins in this millennium. The A's have an incredibly loyal fan base. I've lived in Cali for three years now. I was here the last year The Giants won it all. But, it's just not the same, not when it comes to playoff baseball.

B is for Boston

B is for Boston

The East Coast has some of the oldest teams in the Major Leagues. It has one of the best rivalry in Sports, and the best one in baseball (you know, the New York Yankees vs. the Boston Red Sox). New England thrives on sports. It's what we turn to as the night encroaches, and the cold seeps in.

You see, it's really hard to make it through a New England winter without sports. Or it was hard for like almost all of the 20th Century. Now there is all manner of indoor activities. But can you imagine what people were doing in the 1940s at six o'clock in the evening when it's pitch black and 10 degrees outside? You're watching TV, or having sex at that point. And goodness gracious there were only so many shows back then...

So fall comes in, which for a long, long time meant that the Red Sox season was coming to a close. There was no World Series coming, no ALDS, or Wild Card, just the Red Sox doomed to fail. So when the Red Sox did play in October, you better believe that it was a magical time. Mix that in with the most gorgeous time of the year, and you've made one helluva cocktail.

I first got into sports because of the Red Sox. It was the time of Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Jason Varitek, Nomar, and some new guy named David Ortiz. The Red Sox were so good in the late 90s and early 2000s. The fan-base was like a giant pimple, on the verge of popping. It could go in either direction. After the Boone home run in 2003, Red Sox Nation couldn't go on like that much further.

I don't know how many guys I knew who said (sarcastically or not) that they were going to become Yankee fans if we (as if I'm on the Red Sox) didn't beat the Yankees this year. That's how inevitable it felt, another Red Sox Yankees battle in the playoffs.

We all know what happened. Red Sox are down three-nothing to the Yanks, a stolen base, a base hit, and a walk off homer start the ascent to World Series domination. And like that, instead of bursting due to inflammation, the fingers of the Red Sox popped out all the grit and grime from 86 years of nothing.

Fenway, but I think you knew that

Fenway, but I think you knew that

No fall baseball has ever been as good. 2013 was pretty magical after the Boston bombing, and 2007 was just pure dominance, but 2004 was as good as it gets. It's like doing Star Wars as your first big movie, there's just no topping it (unless you're Harrison Ford...I hope the Red Sox are Harrison Ford's of baseball).

This fall, this fall feels a lot like last fall. I'm concerned for Boston. Last year we went in with our offense in a lackluster mood. This year feels the same. Last year we lost to the eventual World Series participants, The Cleveland Indians. This year, well, having just lost three of four the Astros, I'm biting my nails with anxiety that the same will happen starting Thursday.

But maybe this is because I'm not in New England. There doesn't seem to be any magic surrounding the Sox this year, not like there was in 04 and 13. Our only chance seems to be if we turn into a version of the 2014 Giants. Nunez becomes 14 Sandoval, and Sale is Bumgarner. The Sox have the rotation to sink any offense. And now with Price as a very expensive version of Andrew Miller, it looks like we could have the best bullpen in the game.

The offense is the issue. I got to admit. It's strange not seeing Big Papi as the Red Sox gear up for the Postseason. We need a bat like his. There's plenty of people capable of being that for a couple weeks. Mookie could do it, Hanley could do it, Nunez might come through, maybe Devers will break out. But goodness knows, we need that one person who is automatic to plate a couple of runners.

If we can get back the look we had when Nunez and Devers came aboard, then we have a shot. You know, the scrappy Boston team that everyone loves, where the team just finds a way to win games. That's what we need. If not, we'll have to rely on an excellent pitching staff to make no mistakes.

I'm sweating just thinking about it. That's the power of fall baseball. Now, if only the Patriots would start winning.

Well, at least when I go home I'll be able to watch the game, hope that the Sox bats will come alive, have a Pumpkin Joe Joe.

Ah fall, you are most welcome.