I was riding my bike past the ballpark today as the wind blustered around like the air in one of those supersonic tunnels, so hard that I rode my Specialized bicycle like a motorcross stuntman. I thought to myself, wow, what a day for baseball... the ball could fly out one inning onto Waveland, or batters could be hitting grounders against Maddux all day.
But the thought didn't last very long, because it's October 4, so that means the ballpark was empty like a sailor's rum bottle, and Maddux was at Shea Stadium watching Derek Lowe take the mound in the first game of the Los Angeles-New York National League Division Series (the Dodgers went on to lose the game for themselves 5-6, even though they out-hit the Mets 11-9).
Every year, there's a moment when you realise baseball on the North Side is over, and this was it for me. There's a sadness, albeit a different emotion from the one you feel when the Cubs kamikaze in May, because all that ivy is turning into all sorts of gorgeous colours and there's no one to see. It helps to have one other team in the playoffs, and even when that's over, there's always a team to root against (Yankees).
So baseball lives on in 2006 for one more month, like a 20-pitch at-bat that keeps fouling off. But at the end, you either get a hit (someone you can like wins the World Series) or you get out (Yankees or Cardinals win the World Series), and then it's all over until the next time.