Catharsis, and Misery
By Eric Reining
In the passive-agressive bubble of cynicism I sometimes inflate when I’m consciously in the mood to write, I possess the inkling to lay a mildly condescending perspective down. I can let my preconceptions and presuppositions get the better of me, most cathartically when celebrating the underwhelming Angels season, or the carousel of the overachieving Athletics 2012 season. Although my objectivistic ideology fuels each piece of thought I transform into words, I remain cognizant that I am human just like everyone else, succumbing to my biases, both from a conscious and subconscious mind state. It is the heart of my nature, growing northward from my roots, and I offer no apologies for what I do and do not care to admit.
Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, Do ya?
When I transcribed my last article, I mentioned at decent length of the (at the time) impending series between the AL West’s 2nd and 3rd place foes, the A’s and Angels, respectively. I felt a pompous twinge running through my veins as my brain flowed impulses down the nerves in my arms into my fingers, releasing them onto the screen you see before you, for the two great villains in our vaunted West squared off, while we, the mighty Texas Rangers, instead got to feast on the lowly Wigwam-inhabitants of Cleveland. It’s such a mischievous feeling. And I’m smiling like the Grinch, at least below the surface.
You see, each time the Rangers lose and Oakland or Anaheim wins, media outlets from ESPN to MLB Network throw out those buzzwords used to evoke some sort of emotion from the pit of your stomach. You know, the ones that say, “The Rangers lead shrinks another game,” or “The A’s inch that much closer to the first-place Rangers.” But what’s the point? Well, it works two-fold: (1) It plants a small speckle of doubt in the minds of Rangers fans, and (2) it gives a false sense of hope to the team that’s chasing, making sure they’ll still pay attention down the stretch, and, most importantly for whichever network, keeps you tuned in to listen to the drivel.
And, as ridiculous as it may sound, Rangers fans have grown so spoiled of their own team that a 3-game lead is hardly enough for them. We’re used to the five, six, seven-game cushion, so every game lost in the standings seems much more pivotal. Do you remember being a Rangers fan of, say, five years ago, when we’d pick up a game and be within 4 or 5 of the division lead at the end of May? Even ESPN would say, “Maybe the Rangers have a little something cooking,” and it would make you want to keep watching. Hell, maybe the Rangers really do have some magic in them. Just, not really. Reality sets in. Reality always wins.
In my innocuous evaluation of the A’s-Angels series, I at no point opined about which team I was hoping would win. I made my best effort to be objective and let the facts of the matter speak for themselves. It’s like the show Breaking Bad: It’s more powerful to show than to tell, and inasmuch as I’d love to rant and rave about my perpetual hatred for the Angels, or impose an untoward set of conclusions as to why the Athletics are only a lucky team, I’ve remained steadfast in the belief that the success of the Rangers is all that’s really important.
Well, until now.
The A’s have taken the first two games of the four-game series, and I hope they kick the shit out of them in games 3 and 4 as well. I spent too many years of my childhood looking up to the Angels in the standings, listening to their entitled, jackass fans here in California tell me how great they were and how the Rangers were nothing but the ugly stepchild in the division. We’re now in 2012, and the Rangers — not the Angels — are the ones coming off back-to-back World Series appearances. I’ve gone through enough suck; now I’m the one who’s entitled to be a little cocky.
The Rangers have 6 games left against the Angels, and 7 against the Athletics (all coming within the final 10 games of the season). Call in the goons; let the A’s do some of our dirty work for us. They pose as much less of a threat in a head-to-head regular season matchup, and I’d rather revel in the misery of the Angels in a year they went all in, mortgaging part of their future to acquire Zach Greinke, giving a franchise-crippling, bogus contract to Albert Pujols, and letting the AL MVP, Mike Trout, enjoy the playoffs back at home in New Jersey.
And I was in such a good mood before I started writing this.