Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Schadenfreude


The world is in a crazy, messed up place right now. There’s the Middle East with the Syrian circus and a soon to be nuclear Iran. In this country we’ve got Biblical-grade floods creating islands in Colorado, and deranged men waltzing into supposedly secure military facilities, whipping out shotguns and killing people. We have a completely dysfunctional federal government about to officially run out of money while simultaneously trying to implement a 3000 page health care law that no one, and I mean NO ONE understands. So what’s on my mind today? Baseball, baby!! There are pennant races afoot, so the end of the world will just have to wait until October.

Can the Nationals do the impossible and come from beyond oblivion and sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard? Probably not, but its baseball, so one never knows. All season long the Nationals just haven’t clicked. They’ve seemed tentative, tight, as if the burden of expectations was too much for them. Then, out of nowhere, back in early August, it was as if they all looked at each other and said, “What the hell, we’re out of it now, so let’s just go have some fun.” Since August the 9th they are the hottest team in baseball. Just last night they swept a double header from the Atlanta Braves and are only 4 and a half games back.

Then there’s the American League wildcard race where four teams are still battling for the last spot. After 150 games, these four teams are still separated by a mere 3 games. The Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees are slugging it out every night as if every game was the seventh game of the World Series. It’s been spectacular baseball. Watching the Red Sox utterly dominate the Yankees down the stretch, to watch the aging Yankees fall victim to a pulled muscle here and a stiff neck there has been something close to heaven for me. I believe the word is Schadenfreude, a word so rich in all the wrong human emotions that it could only come to us from the Germans. Experiencing pleasure from observing the misfortune of others is not a healthy place to live long term, I know. But for these last few weeks, watching the Yankees crumble has been like renting a fabulous house at the beach. I don’t intend to stay here forever, but what a fabulous vacation spot!!