My wife stood in the entrance to the family room for a while before asking, "What are you watching?"
"The Braves and the Marlins," I replied, realizing as I said it how desperately stupid it sounded. Yes, I was hanging on every pitch, listening to the painfully-biased Braves TV announcers as though they held the keys to some inner truth.
I admit it. I've been sucked into the vortex of a pennant race. And I don't want out.
Hell, as soon as Omar Infante's base hit gave the Braves a walk-off win in the 11th, I was off to watch the Cubs-Padres game. I settled in with Len Kasper and Bob Brenly on WGN (a way better combo than the Atlanta bunch) as the Cubs nursed a one-run lead into the bottom of the 9th.
Kasper and Brenly told me Cubs closer Carlos Marmol was on the verge of setting a new single-season record for strikeouts per 9 innings (incredible: he's averaging more than 16 K's per 9 innings). Marmol's slider was electric and he quickly punched out the first two San Diego hitters.
And then the torture began. Yorvit Torrealba reached on an infield hit as the Cubs middle infielders botched the play. Pinch-runner Everth Cabrera, inevitably, stole second. A bounced slider to Chase Headley might have grazed the fabric of his baggy pants and he was sent to first as a hit batsman. Tony Gwynn Jr. coaxed a walk to load the bases.
And then Nick Hundley put a pretty good swing on a Marmol pitch that caught a lot of the plate. For a moment, I had visions of a walk-off grand slam that would have tied the Padres with the Giants for first place in the NL West.
That must have been when I shouted, "No!" That must have been when my wife walked back into the room and said, "I think you're taking this way too seriously."
She might be right. But when Hundley's fly ball landed safely in Sam Fuld's glove, I relaxed. Within minutes, I was sleeping like a baby.
See, pennant races are fun--at least when things are going your way.