Playoff Baseball

I thought it would be appropriate to share with you an excerpt from my book, Safe At Home, about playoff baseball. So enjoy! And Go Blue!

What I’ve learned about the playoffs and the Word Series is to be very, very excited. But not too excited.

dodgercelebration.jpgIt’s not that I don’t appreciate the postseason. I do. And it’s not that I don’t recognize the majesty of St. Louis Cardinal Jack Clark taking Tom Niedenfuer deep in Game 6 of the 1985 National League Championship Series. And it’s not that I don’t long to see the Dodgers win a World Series again. But the truth is, part of who wins that classic matchup is based on the same factors as who wins a regular-season game — skill, smart managing, the ability to bounce back, and luck. That’s what makes the game great.

Still the notion that postseason games are somehow more important, or more pressure-packed, or more, I don’t know, special than a contest in the middle of May, or July, or even April, obscures a larger truth, which is this: Every game is special, and it’s how a player performs in each game, and in every game, that determines his success, not how he plays in one series.

For years, I had pretty limited postseason experience (quite limited actually), but like so many fans before me, I learned the risks of postseason exuberance the hard way in the fall of 2008. I found myself an adult in a whole new baseball situation as I watched my Dodgers win a postseason series and move on to the NLCS. We hadn’t won a postseason series since 1988, when I was just fifteen, but I had always appreciated postseason ball. It was fun to watch the games of the fall even if my heart wasn’t emotionally invested in the teams that were playing. I could really just sit back and appreciate the fundamentals at their best.

Last fall proved different. I wasn’t just invested in who won, I was all in. I sat in my seat with a white-knuckled, sweaty-palmed death grip on whatever I was holding at the time. Every pitch meant something. Every out. Every managerial move. Every call by the ump. The fans were alive. They stood when there were two outs and two strikes, waving those rally towels as if they possessed magical powers to make the batter strike out. “Throw him the chair!” my brother screamed. Translation: “Sit him down.”

As you might expect, losing to the Phillies in the NLCS last year was devastating. My brother and I were inconsolable. As lame as it might sound, a little piece of my heart broke that night. An even bigger piece of my brother’s heart broke that night. The game that we were eliminated in was at Dodger Stadium, and we stayed for about an hour after the last out. In that hour, players came out for curtain calls and blew kisses to the fans that were still there. I would say over a thousand fans stayed, and we were a rowdy bunch. Frank McCourt and his lovely wife stuck around. A chant started. “Please sign Manny.” Clap, clap. Clap, clap, clap. “Please sign Manny,” the Dodgers fans shouted.

Nomar came out of the dugout, and the crowd erupted in applause and cheers. He waved and put his hand over his heart paying tribute to us fans. He took a long look around, soaking up the moment, his moment. It seemed like he was saying good-bye to the stadium; I hoped he wasn’t saying good-bye to baseball. Tommy Lasorda said a few words into a microphone. He thanked “the best fans in baseball.” He finished up his speech by saying, “When you lay your head down on the pillow tonight, say a prayer for Tommy and the Dodgers.” It was a vivid moment, and while we reached a disappointing end, there was something strangely uplifting about the whole scene.

As we were walking to the car, I saw daddies holding sleepy kids with their baseball gloves still on, draped over their father’s backs. I found solace in the idea that even though we weren’t moving on to the World Series, memories were made that night. The children of the fans from ’88 had their own stories to tell. A whole new generation of Dodger fans got to experience NLCS baseball for the first time. And who knows, maybe one of these years we’ll actually win.

PEACE,
LOVE,
AND BASEBALL,
Alyssa

Click here for the Alyssa.com message boards | Follow me on Twitter!

35 Comments

What I like about regular season games is that I can enjoy the game more. One game out of 162 is not as big a deal as one game out of five or seven. I get over losing a regular season game within an hour. After a playoff or World Series game, win or lose, if the Angels are playing, I?m a total wreck. I find myself not being able to watch the opposing team at bat, especially if they have the bases loaded with no outs. In a regular season game I can enjoy the national pastime as it was meant; relaxed among friends/family with unhealthy snacks and perhaps a libation, not for the kids though.

ahhh you gotta love October baseball Mrs Milano! Its the best.. its exciting not to mention very very nervewracking lol i’m a lot like you and your brother.. very into it. I can be all in when i want to be and sometimes it can be tiring but you are right in that despite a devastating loss there’s always next year :)

I love reading your book! It was incredible!! read it a couple of times actually! and this was one of my favorite parts of it! postseason is the thing that probably like every other fan i wait for the whole year, besides spring training(since I live in Fl). is a exiciting event that surprises and shocks everyone because you watch teams doing everything in their power to get that golden ticket to the world series. I can’t wait for the NLCS this year and hopefully watch the dodgers win. and of course also the AlCS to watch my Yankees take it all! and maybe have a yankees/dodgers match up in the world series..lol!! So Good luck to your dodgers!!
lot’s of love
tamara
GO Yankees!! Go baseball!!

I know what you?re saying Alyssa It seems we all get Intense during the playoff season. Maybe it?s because we feel the end of the season approaching and we want to pack all the excitement into the final games before it?s gone till next year.

Maybe

Love Gary

Hi Alyssa,
As I read your latest entry, it brought tears to my eyes. Last years NLCS games were magical. After that last game, my 6 year old son was inconsolable as well. And as he sat and cried, adults walked by him and looked at him as if to say, “honey, if I was your age, I would be sitting right next to you in tears as well….”. But like you said, the hour after the game was incredible. The players coming out, the group of fans gathering behind the dugout…that is what I am hoping he remembers as the years pass by. It was an incredibly special time. My son and I go to many Dodger games. Dodger Stadium is a magical place for us. And October baseball makes it even more special. Thank you for writing such a beautiful entry, and bringing back such wonderful memories for me.

Hi Alyssa!

I have your book, and Im reading this again. Made me cry, again. I totally relate to it. This year, as much as I am soooo excited, Im trying to keep it cool. Last year hurt so much, and I always say the same thing… my heart broke a little. Seeing Tommy and especially Nomar, wow… I was crying in the stands as I too stayed for while after it was all over. Because part of me didnt believe it was over. Not like it had just happened.

Baseball is my life therapy.

Love ya!!

As a Phillies fan of many years,I feel for your compassion.I remember the late 1970’s when the Phillies were battling the Dodgers in playoff games in which Phila. always came out on the bottom.If it wasn’t a game played in a downpour,it was unfavorably biased decisions of umpires.

But losing gives your personality character.I wish your Dodger team success against any future team but the Phillies.

Being a fan by definition is being a fanatic.I found that doing things in moderation makes ones life less hectic.
You should look at your fellow citizens who arrive at the stadium in the 2nd or 3rd inning and leave in the 7th or 8th inning oblivious to what a fan is.

Most celebrities don’t become fanatical about sports until their later years like Cary Grant and Jack Nicholson.Your experiencing sports fanatical behavior at an early age and may burn out.

Wish you the best with your latest marriage.

Hi Alyssa.I like your blog.It is great.Thanks.

Alyssa,

I would like to see the Yankees and Dodgers in the World Series because they both have the best records in their respective leagues. Of course, there is also the drama with Torre possibly coming back to Yankee Stadium to face his old team and the history between the two teams dating back to the Brooklyn Dodgers.

I’m not going to predict anything, but I think the Dodgers have the edge over the Phillies this year because of one reason: bullpen. The Phillies bullpen last year was phenomenal and Brad Lidge was like Mariano Rivera in Philly. This year his ERA is up and he’s blown saves. So has Ryan Madson. I’m going with history here because there has never been a team that made it to the World Series with a shoddy bullpen. I mean, just look at the Dodgers. You got Sherrill and Broxton in the 8th and 9th. Sherrill is a closer who is being used as a set-up man. Those two guys have been consistent all year long and I just think that the Dodgers have 2008 fresh in their minds and that they’ve got a better team this year.

BTW, MLB Network is rerunning Game 4 of the 1978 NLCS between the Phillies and Dodgers at 2:30 PM EST today.

Dodgers at the Phillies tonight, I hope it has all the excitement of the first 2…
note to cubswinin2010: you said //You got Sherrill and Broxton in the 8th and 9th// did you not see game 1 where Sherrill gave up those walks and runs…
~peter
Outside the Phillies Looking In
http://devilabrit.mlblogs.com

Alyssa:

Another week in baseball…..dang, dang, dang again…Ahhh this year 2009 has not been a very good year for us, at least on the baseball front…Looked in on your Twitter site and Nah… dressing up the dogs should be a help…as long as their not wearing Yankee outfits. The roller coaster ride was good this year and here’s hoping it only gets better in 2010. Here’s hoping you have a good winter and a lot of luck on the show. If I watched TV I’d make sure to tune in. All my Love…Mort

Hi Alyssa:
As this season winds down to an end, I wanted to thank you for your great entries this year. I was most impressed with your presentation of the Clemente nominees. Sheesh, what a poker game those guys would be! A charitable one, of course.
I hardly feel like I missed a game, all year. Most often radiowise, with Vin, Mo and Charley. And all games were great with this crew. Even more surprising was the victorious, winning season, seemingly game after game.
So…, after the McCourt proceedings, next year could be a fun time at the old ball park, with whole new perspectives, and noticeable changes that somehow brings back the good old times of baseball. Along with yelling “You lousy umpire!!””
Love ya, Brent

Hi Alyssa
Wow, what a year this has been.
I had a chance to meet the team in person on the field during batting practice and sit with owner Frank McCourt watching a game at Dodger stadium after watching a game the night before.
It was the first time I’ve been to Dodger Stadium in my life, thanks to the generosity of the Dodgers and kindness of Josh Rawitch who did a wonderful job of arranging it all.
What thrill to see the Dodgers in their home uniforms, live and in person and to be surrounded by Dodger fans, just like me.
It is truly Blue heaven on earth.
This is a great team and regardless of the ownership problems, will be in a World Series one of these days.
Truly Yours
Joe Pierre

Hey Alyssa,
Just a little over 2 years ago, I found your blog and started reading. And to this day, yes, it is still the only one I read. For that fact, even look at. Just like to read the baseball stories that you write. And other tidbits…
Last year as your Dodgers were FINISHING off my Cubs, I wrote this comment –
Then have to go thru it all over again, just to try and get back to THIS. SORRY ALYSSA, I”M frustrated, numb, and tired of this CRAP. I could go on…but you know it’s BASEBALL and you always “root” for your team, regardless. But there better be alot of changes…
I guess I was also a little emotionally invested into it too. When you are in the postseason, EVERYTHING is just more INTENSE. And my Cubs never made it back to that place, so now I have to wait another year. Sure its alot easier to watch when your team isnt in it, but I would rather go thru the intensity anyday. From a Cub fan growing, you hear about no World Series since 1945. 1984, the Cubs go up 2 games on SD, only to lose the next 3 in SD (best of 5 to get into the WS).The year the Cubs should have had 3 gms at home, but because they didnt have lights, SD got the 3 home games on the weekend. Was even talk of making the Cubs play in St Louis or Milw. Ther maddest I ever was over a ballgame when they lost the 5th game. Not much Cub postseason luck after that and the we all know what happened in 2003. And then no postseason wins,since… Wait til next year is getting rather old Alyssa. At least you have seen the Dodgers win the World Series. Alyssa, maybe one of these years I will see the Cubs win the one. But I am really starting to really doubt it… Hey, wait til next year.
Take care Alyssa and check in here once in awhile during the offseason…
Later, Curt
PS- I know we can continue to find you over at twitter.Your Tweet Streak continues… It’s like 218 straight days. And good luck with the upcoming TV series. And yes, I will be watching…

Alyssa:

Another week in baseball….Feels weird rooting for Philly but it’s not like I have any choice…feel free to root for that other team, the one most of your family likes, there’s no accounting for taste…Those Philly fans last week were just run of the mill jerks…Shame….Yes, I started checking out your regular Twitter site but it was a little too fan based for my tastes…I’m a guy so I live by a creed…Me Like Sports…Then I started looking at your TouchByAM and I kind of like it tho I’m not sure if the lack of baseball news over the winter will kill it for me. Just keep the Hockey( Leaf ) news coming and I’ll be there and No, I have no plans on twitting myself…May the best team win and may the games be exciting….Mort

I don’t know if anyone is interested, but I found this article interesting. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125789565331042445.html
It was done by a Professor at my University. It is what would happen if Babe Ruth played baseball today.

Alyssa, so I am surfing the web to find some high quality baseball blogs that I could contact about sharing links with my website on pitching mechanics called http://www.TopVelocity.net and I came across your site. I, like most men who grew up watching you as a teen idol on TV had a major crush on you as a young teenager. I even wrote a letter to you which was my first love letter back in 1986. You wrote back and Jose Canseco was Rookie of the Year, who I later became teammates with. At least half my dreams came true. I have to say it is really cool to see that you are such a big baseball fan. Have you tried learning the skills of the game like pitching? If not please check out my site http://www.TopVelocity.net. I have a good following of pitchers. I also have a baseball academy outside of New Orleans, LA. called Guerilla Baseball (www.GuerillaBaseball.com.) If you are in the area, why not stop by for a few lessons on pitching. I am positive I can teach you to throw at least 65 mph. If you can’t make it, then I would appreciate it if you could share a link with me on your site. I am adding your site to my home page. Thanks for bringing some hype to the game. Best of luck to you!

Brent Pourciau
http://www.TopVelocity.net

Alyssa, so I am surfing the web to find some high quality baseball blogs that I could contact about sharing links with my website on pitching mechanics called http://www.TopVelocity.net and I came across your site. I, like most men who grew up watching you as a teen idol on TV had a major crush on you as a young teenager. I even wrote a letter to you which was my first love letter back in 1986. You wrote back and Jose Canseco was Rookie of the Year, who I later became teammates with. At least half my dreams came true. I have to say it is really cool to see that you are such a big baseball fan. Have you tried learning the skills of the game like pitching? If not please check out my site http://www.TopVelocity.net. I have a good following of pitchers. I also have a baseball academy outside of New Orleans, LA. called Guerilla Baseball (www.GuerillaBaseball.com.) If you are in the area, why not stop by for a few lessons on pitching. I am positive I can teach you to throw at least 65 mph. If you can’t make it, then I would appreciate it if you could share a link with me on your site. I am adding your site to my home page. Thanks for bringing some hype to the game. Best of luck to you!

Brent Pourciau
http://www.TopVelocity.net

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.
http://www.jewel-tiffany.com/Tiffany/mens-necklaces.html

Long time reader of your blog.. Just wanted to let you know that I read your book on vacation, and really enjoyed it! I’m looking forward to your thoughts in 2010. Keep up the great work.

Fantensity

Alyssa:

Another week without baseball….Darned dusty around here, but what the hey, it’s been almost two months since I dropped by…been dropping in at your Twitter sites, tho I’m not sure I like being called a “Lurker ” since I don’t Twit myself. I do love what you’re doing tho and please, take a moment to listen to my silent applause. The fresh water idea is genius….OK, lets get to baseball…..Why does it bother me that A Rod is getting a World Series ring, tho knowing the Yankee’s it’ll probably be as gaudy as he is….Was reading about the difference between baseball fans and team fans and it boiled down to whether you would cheer for someone like Barry Bonds if he joined your team…rough choice…I’d like to thank The Onion for pointing out the fact that sports has become increasingly boring since death is no longer the punishment for losing…I’m glad that 2009 was a good year for you and hope it only gets better.Have a really nice birthday and a grand Christmas and New Years….I have a friend who likes watching Castle so I plan to be over when you show up, I think you and the space cowboy are a great idea…All my Love…..Mort

Hey Alyssa. I’m so glad to leave a message in this post.
Maybe you will read my message…!
I believe your blog is precisely written and thought out. Plus know stuff are dudes writing imprint from parts of the globe bearings baseball isn’t played further fans who wouldn’t normally particpate imprint kernel forums.
mcdba.

Hey Alyssa. I’m so glad to leave a message in this post.
Maybe you will read my message…!
I believe your blog is precisely written and thought out. Plus know stuff are dudes writing imprint from parts of the globe bearings baseball isn’t played further fans who wouldn’t normally particpate imprint kernel forums.
mcdba.

If you read this message, Alyssa, you will have discovered my pseudonym, and how the MLB and Players know me!! I love to go early to Spring Training and Regular season games to hawk bp hr’s, and hound an autograph or two!!

As familiarity is a double-edged sword, becoming a Player’s favorite has its plusses and minus’, especially out in the grandstands or berms!! Louis Gonzalez liked to chase me all over the bleachers at Chase Field, and the Brewers seem to always find my glove at Maryvale Stadium, ha-ha!!

I am definitely too old for this fun, but can’t help it either!! I will be “testing out” the new Dodger’s Spring Training Facility in Glendale this spring, and hope to see you there!!

Alyssa:

Another week without baseball…and the snow is blowing outside my window as I write this….Just pre-ordered your book in trade paperback , says I should get it just before the new season starts, looking forward to it. My winter baseball book has been J.Pragers The Echoing Green and I’m loving every historic filled moment of it. I had never heard the name ” Trolly Dodgers ” before and it was nice to find out just how the Blue came by their name…railway tracks on two sides of the field…It was also interesting to read of the dirty tricks that were thought of at the time and how they were put in play…puts all our steroid problems in perspective….Saw you on Castle the other night and you two guys put more dialogue into your glances then all the words that you spoke aloud…My crude way of saying Well Done….Love…..Mort

Hey,
Hope filming and comedy is going well for you. Your goodness is always prevalent.
Seeing a couple of days ago that Tim Lincecum filed for free agency, he seemed like a reaLLy good addition to the pitching staff. Regardless that he would be coming from a generally hated team, amongst them all, disliked the most, from the Dodgers side. Still, it is a ripe opportunity for the pickings. And, as you have said numerous times, the pitching could be enhanced. As I got the story, it sounded like about $10M for a year, to get ‘the Freak.’ So, offer $11M for 2-3 years and get a deal done. One more ace hurler after that and things would be looking promising for the next season. Stay healthy, Brent.

Hey, Alyssa-

Have you ever caught a foul ball during a game? If so, I’d love to hear the story.

-Zack
http://snaggingbaseballs.mlblogs.com

Alyssa:

Another week without baseball……Happy Truck Day…Mort

Hi:
I don’t know if you ever tried to get a fantasy team, either of the last couple of years, but I remember you asking us if you should. Do it. Drafting tomorrow night. Try for players of your choice, then see if they make it. Last year was the first time I had done it, and it is fun to the extent that I then looked at my players stats a lot more often than I would have before.
Like having Ichiro in the lineup, always slapping base hits, and scoring points for the team. Would be funny to find out that you already have a team ready to roll, and you’re actually in my league!
Even though I might be another guy, out here, that usually says “She’s outta my league, anyway.”
Not too long to go before the new season is underway.
Brent

Alyssa:

A week of baseball (almost)….Just caught my first spring game on MLB and my guys look good and the long winter simmer is starting to bubble….Caught you at Twitter and your sport Twitter over the winter and am glad to hear you’re doing fine… was happy to hear you were at the big hockey game in BC but even happier that my team won…This should be an interesting year for the Blue and I keep my fingers crossed that the front office stuff won’t spill over onto the field, tho it seems impossible that it won’t…Since more than 2,200 bats splintered or helicoptered in the last 2 months of play last year MLB says they’re going to look into it…here’s hoping. I got a small taste today and in a month I’ll have the trade paperback of your book and over a 160 games to put up my feet and watch….Ahhh Heaven….Mort

Alyssa:

Another week of baseball….NOMAR….Just listening to the Bosox game and Nomar is giving some back story to his retirement….Man I love this game….really like Nomar too…Mort.

Hi alyssa, What a great way to connect with other like minded baseball fans. I’m new to the mlblogs and I can’t wait to give my opinion on my favourite team.( Bluejays). In ’85 I was so excited that My Bluejays had finally gone over the hump and won their first AL east title. Up 3-1 against the Royals…they managed to blow the lead and The Royals ended up going to the dance! I was so heart broken….We were the best in baseball (99-62) and to have it cut short like that…I was devasted! The Bluejays made several more appearances in the PLayoffs only to be booted! But it wasn’t until 1992 when we made the dance! Oh excitement was in the air, Toronto was all abuzz! When Joe Carter caught the winning out. It was bedlam! I had tears trickling down my eyes as after so many failures of post season past…..We had finally won our World Series! ( 1st for Canada). What could we possibly do for an encore? Joe Carter hitting the game winning homerun to win the world series in 1993. It was funny how it all happened! I was infront of the tv on my knees praying to the tv…lol. I had been watching the game with a friend of mine aswell. I was saying to the tv…that If joe carter hit a homerun I would kiss the TV. Mitch Williams delivered the Pitch and JOe swung for the fences. My eyes grew larger, and larger as the ball crossed the fence. I of course kissed the Tv…lol, picked my friend off the ground and spun her in celebration and ran outside with all the fans. It was UTTer jubilation! Alyssa, I hope one day you can feel the jubilation with your team as I did not once but 2wice Back to back!

Alyssa; My whole family is from New York and hard die Yankee fans . I live in L.A and also a yankee fan. Although it seems with Joe comming over and being secessfull with the short time he has been here a World Seris could be possible this year. I might even become a HOMER Dodger fan but one that stays for the whole 9 innings. I have faith in Torre and belive that a World Seris soon.

Hi Alyssa, My name is Leena Alabduljabbar, I was in Saudi Arabia but now I live in Denver, Colorado, Highlands ranch, Lucent Blvd and I would like to meet you in person

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