It's not in my nature to delight in the misgivings of others. I aim to be a positive person and usually want what is best for people. That is, unless you wear Pantone 294....or are on the receiving end of one of my favorite cheers. When I yell "Beat LA!" I mean it.
For the past eight years, those pesky Dodgers have captured the National League West. And with the payroll and the talent they have, they should. But to my delight, they have returned to Chavez Ravine without the Commissioner's Trophy again and again. Their faults, their floundering and their failings somehow make the San Francisco Giants 2010, 2012 and 2014 World Series titles that much sweeter. Is there a Yiddish word for the OPPOSITE of "Schadenfreude?"
With a 3-2 game lead in the World Series, LA may do what they have not done since Kirk Gibson rounded the bases in 1988. It goes without saying that 2020 is different in the sports world and everywhere else—and yet a World Series is underway. I have wondered, if I were an LA fan, Would I want the title as much as I would in a "regular" year? Will it mean as much? The Giants fan in me takes smug satisfaction in thinking they will get their "just desserts" in this way....or will they?! Fortunately, ESPN's Sports Daily podcast "Jeff Passan on a World Series Unlike Any Other" provided some much needed perspective. And so entries number 5 and 6 of perspective and inspiration stem from the 2020 Fall Classic. Enjoy.
Perspective: ESPN Daily host Pablo Torre asked, "Does this actually feel like a real World Series to you—given your experience in the past and what you are witnessing right now?" ESPN columnist Jeff Passan responded.
This does not just feel like a real World Series, this feels like the culmination of a season that almost shouldn't have been. Major League Baseball pressed forward with the regular season in hopes that it would reach the post-season. When the Marlins had their COVID outbreak and the Cardinals had their outbreak, MLB could have very easily shut things down. They chose not to and what happened over the two or so months on the season, to me, was something as every bit as difficult as 162 games.
It may not have been as tiring physically, but the mental grind that players went through everyday to abide by protocols, to during the course of this month—about half of it to be separated from their families—and I understand this is not quite what the NBA bubble was like but I look at those people who say that this season warrants an asterisk and I agree.
It warrants and asterisk for how tough it was and for how impressive what the players have done, is.
I will look back on 2020 whoever winds up being the World Series champions and give them even more credit than I do a typical championship.
Whether it's a baseball player, whether its a baseball writer, a podcast host, or whether it is any other person out there in the world right now, we all know how hard 2020 has been. To be at your absolute apex professionally, in front of no fans every night, in front of this silence when you're used to something different! I think it took an incredible amount of mental strength that players probably haven't been given enough credit for but hopefully they get their due this week.
Many sports reports are entitled "Inside INSERT YOUR SPORT HERE." Passan's remarkable insight affirmed when someone speaks from "Inside Baseball" he or she has a perspective worth considering.
Inspiration: If you happened to catch Game 5 in this series, you were reminded why we love sports. It was a four hour plus dose of inspiration. But I have also found it in the Rays' defense. As great as the Ray's outfielders are, as is the left side of the infield, I'd like to give a special shout out for Ji Man Choi.Passan and Torre spent several minutes discussing the 6'1" 260 pound first baseman. They said "For a man of his size to do the splits is truly a marvel. Choi is a large man. I almost think he does it to show off a little bit."
Choi inspires me because if he can do the splits, so can I. I also appreciate how he conducts himself on and off the field. He's a good hitter, strong on D and in the dugout I can't help but notice he smiles all the time. There's only one Ji Man.
In Conclusion: I am hoping this Series goes to seven games. Regardless of who prevails, whether or not baseball history puts an asterisk next to the winner, I will truly see that with the perspective of those Inside MLB and all it has taken to make 2020 a go. Thanks to the athletes, coaches, families and admin who let that happen. It's been a great ride.