It was really no surprise to me. I always knew we were destined to finish out of the playoffs. Even when we were only two games behind the leader with a month to go, I was positive that we would falter. Frankly, there was never any doubt in my mind that we were, at best, a second or third place team.
Even when it came down to the last two weeks and we were out of the running for first place but still had a chance at the wild card spot, I knew we wouldn’t make it. Some insisted that we couldn’t miss, that with our abundance of talent, we couldn’t fail to make the playoffs. But I knew differently. In fact, the whole team knew differently.
Sometimes folks forget that baseball is a team sport and that it takes everybody pulling together to achieve an unexpected result. I’m sure that if you asked every player on our team, to a man they would say that they knew from the moment we first held first place that it was a fluke and that ultimately we would not remain there.
That’s just the kind of team we were. We were all on the same wavelength. It was almost uncanny.
One guy would get a double, another would hit a single and a third would get a walk to load the bases and we knew, we just knew, that the fourth guy, whoever it was, would hit into a game-ending double play. We had faith that things would end badly and we relied on one another to ensure that negative outcome.
I can’t say enough about our manager and the coaching staff. After all, it’s not just the players who achieve the ultimate goal. As a total team effort, it involves management, too.
In fact, I remember a crucial game in mid-September after we had lost five games in a row and were threatening to fall out of the pennant race entirely. Our ace pitcher gave us seven strong innings and we were leading 3-1.
He started the eighth and struck out the first two batters. It looked as if we might win the game and mount a late run for the wild card spot after all.
But our manager had other plans. He pulled the starting pitcher and handed the ball to our bullpen staff who promptly gave up four quick runs and the game. That’s why I say that it takes everyone on and off the field doing their part to experience the kind of season we had.
I know it’s hard for some people to believe that we accomplished what we did this year. But it isn’t something that happens overnight. Every dropped fly ball, every missed sign, every called third strike; they all add up to the remarkable result we achieved.
So to our fans, I say "Thanks." Thanks for being there when we tanked and thanks for the extra boo or razz which helped put us over the edge.
Know in your hearts that we couldn’t have done it without you. You were truly the tenth man out there on the field for us all year long. A tenth man who invariably got in the way and made things worse but a tenth man nonetheless.
While some teams are preparing for the playoffs, we’re packing our bags and preparing for an early start on the golf course. It is a consistent year-end result that we can, if not honor, at least marvel at. And for those of you looking for a first round playoff defeat in a humiliating four-game sweep, all I can say is "Wait ‘til next year."
Read David's blog here.