03/05/2020 2 By BuddyCushman

(From the Writing Group)

My baseball season will be different this year. Quite a different experience I suspect. Back before the 2019 season I got the idea to try and pay good attention to the fortunes of five teams. These teams – Boston Red Sox, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels, and Philadelphia Phillies. Keep tabs on their major league clubs, surely, but also follow at least a bit the fortunes of teams in their systems, especially AAA and AA. I can’t say exactly how or why this idea arrived in my head, but I will tell you I’d give myself about a C- on that six-month effort. Of course I followed the Sox thoroughly, that’s genetic, that’s an involuntary system like lungs pumping and kidneys flushing. Good with the Padres too, see my wife grew up in San Diego and I began visiting there with her to her parents some 10 years ago, and early on I started watching the Padres on the tube with her dad and then I got myself by myself to catch a game live at beautiful Petco Stadium, and then a couple more over the years with Bill Dunne. I’ll also say I’ve caught three or four games at the Oakland A’s stadium, which is kind of a letdown place to field such a storied franchise. I lived in Oakland 15 months, so I have a thing for Oakland and for the A’s. All three of these teams in fact. As for the Angels and Phillies, who knows, it came to me to follow them and I did fairly well for a while and less over the months and barely by September.

By the way, the A’s were the only one of my five clubs to reach the post-season, and they were dispatched in a single day.

Then came this winter and a sudden December clarity that in 2020 I was going to go all in watching and following and rooting for three teams only – again the Red Sox and Padres, and this year moving over to the middle of the country, the Cincinnati Reds. Don’t ask why the Reds and I won’t tell, mostly because I can’t. Cincinnati arrived and I signed up. As in, all-in Baby.

I am most happy to report I have, in fact, been all in with these three teams thus far, if you say, as a true fan would, the season beginning at the end of the World Series. All of this cheating stuff has been, for the most part, lost on me. It hurts and it’s so wrong and for God’s sake these days we need to trust stuff and believe in the purity of events that are, ultimately, games. But, personally, I’ve been more concerned with who’s going to start in center for the Padres. And how much will the Reds use Lorenzen as an outfielder as well as a reliever. That cat throws it up there close to a hundred. And not discombobulating whether or not the Sox would trade Mookie, because I’d been advocating for that since before the deadline last summer, but who’d they get back, never mind the happiness of seeing Mr. Price and his gnarly attitude shipped out of town along the way. And the penalty resets and all that available cash. Hello Kevin Pillar. We got Kevins.

I am excited for the season, this season. It’s nice to be excited for good stuff. In 1955 I began following the Boston Red Sox, watching games on the black and white in the living room with my dad, and I suffered with them for nearly 50 years. I think we all know what happened in 2004, and three more times since then. Yes, so far this year the Sox are looking a little iffy, though to be honest I am more optimistic than most of the fans I see commenting rather negatively hither and yon. But, for me this year, I have two other teams I am caring about just as much. Like, tell me there’s a better starting rotation than the Reds. Tell me there are more exciting young players here and on the cusp than have the Padres. Heck I’m even prepared to make a few predictions, keeping in mind I’m excited to simply watch the players play – in what will be my rare cable-less opportunities. And, of course, the blessed joy of getting lost in box scores.

Here goes:

The Red Sox finish 3rd in the AL East, behind, in order, The Rays and The Yankees.

The Padres finish 2nd to the LA Dodgers in the NL West. They miss the play-offs.

The Reds? You heard it here first – The Reds win the 2020 World Series.

Without a garbage can in sight.