My name is I.M. Bitterman, and I’m here to tell you how to watch the stupid playoffs and all the stupid sons of bitches who are playing in the stupid playoffs. First, some background: I am a bitter man. The surname is not a coincidence. Upon arriving at Ellis Island, my great-great-grandfather Ignatius Meriwether Biedermann was suspected of having a “struma,” which is now called a goiter, and detained for a further inspection. Embittered, he poisoned authorities until such time that they gave in and permitted his entry, but not before they changed his name to Bitterman and suggested he move to Alaska, which, by coincidence, was called “Struma” at the time.
So, basically, bitterness is a Bitterman birthright. And if you’re anything like me, you’re pretty damn bitter that the Princesses, the Birds, the Birds and the Elephantiases are in the playoffs and your team isn’t. Why do their fans get to have all the fun? I mean, instead of watching that magnificent son of a bitch of a doctor on old House episodes, you sit there 162 times for four hours at a stretch and watch your crappy team play, and what do you get in return?
You get bupkis, while all those other fans are all, “Ooooh, look at me, my team is in the playoffs, I’m better than you, I’m great, I’m the best person, ooooh, look at me!”
Screw them. And if you’re one of them, screw you. Go play in traffic.
But yeah, if you’re anything like me, you still enjoy baseball and want to watch the stupid playoffs, despite the fact that you also want to torch entire cities and let all the animals out of the zoo and also punch walls in the dark.
So, what do you do? Here’s what you do:
Royals-Orioles, Game 1: I know what you’re thinking, because I’m thinking it, too: Screw them, I’m gonna torch an entire city. But if you torch an entire city, you will miss the baseball game, and you still like baseball, right? Yeah, you still like baseball, despite all the sons of bitches who still get to play it and despite all the sons of bitches who still get to root for those sons of bitches. Screw them. The other thing you’re thinking is, Why the stupid Royals? Why the stupid Orioles? Sure, it pissed you off at the time, but you were comfortable with the established order – the big-market Yankees and Red Sox on top and the small-market Royals and Orioles on the bottom, always limping through the sewers like the forgotten spawns of Quasimodo and the Bearded Lady, never to know the light of dignity. Yum!
It made you feel good, as it should, that a certain segment of society – namely, the segment in Kansas City and the segment in Baltimore, which was pretty much the same segment – felt shitty on an annual basis, a fact made all the more delicious by your knowledge that they had resigned themselves to the hierarchy and reconciled their place in misery. Yum again!
But now – oh, lord, now – they’re all waving their stupid flags and jumping around in their stupid seats and their stupid bars and their stupid streets and it just pisses you off because they’re like that stupid kid Jimmy, the one you used to pick on in sixth grade who suddenly grew up to be a handsome bad-ass who shoved your head in the toilet and, yeah, it just really pisses you off.
Right. So where was I? Ah. The game.
So what you want to do is this: Watch the stupid game. Every time you see a fan, just tell yourself that behind the stupid smile and the stupid flag and possibly the stupid thrill of stupid victory, that fan is a very unhappy person. Hey, you do it with comedians, right? – Behind The Laughter and all that jazz? Yeah, misery loves hilarious company. And you do it with rock stars, too – “So what if he sleeps with nine underwear models before breakfast! He’ll never know TRUE love, or the joy of holding a stupid little baby for the first time!”
Oh, and every time you see Hosmer or Cruz or whoever, just tell yourself that despite this whole playoff experience thing, he would much rather be playing for your team and in your city and for you, the true and genuine fan.
Giants-Cardinals, Game 1: I still know what you’re thinking, because I’m still thinking it, too: Good grief, the stupid Giants and the stupid Cardinals AGAIN? How much more of this can I take? Jeez, how about the Biebers vs. the Kardashians in the next eight consecutive Super Bowls? Huh? How about that? Stupid Bieber. I need a drink. Where’s the stupid tequila?
So here’s what you do: Every time they show a Cardinals fan on TV, just reach up and squish his stupid little head between your fingers. Same with a Giants fan – just squish that stupid little head. And if you can fit two heads in there – or, hell, even three – good! So much the better! Just squish the livin’ shit out of them, one at a time or all together. Trust me, it works.
Last year I squished the heads of 5,648 Red Sox fans in Game 1 alone, and I felt much better for it. By that I mean I felt the usual level of bitterness, which in turn allowed me to squish the heads of 272 Cardinals fans. (It was a Red Sox home game, after all. I mean, there’s only so much you can do.)
As for the players, well, you enjoy baseball, right? – so you’ll just have to watch them play baseball. That’s just the way it goes. You can’t be bitter about it. But while watching them play baseball, just tell yourself that they are also tired of the Giants and the Cardinals, even though they play for them.
Don’t let all that fist bumping, et cetera, fool you.
Believe you me, they’re just as bitter as the rest of us.
Royals-Orioles, Game 2: OK, I know what you’re thinking….
John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.