Sometimes, the greatest feeling in life is causing someone else’s failure
Allow me to share one of the first videos I ever loved on the internet.
It's 12 seconds long, and it's perfect. Sometimes, you just need to laugh about a guy running straight into a stop sign and going down like a stack of bricks. That's why all those goofy "FAIL!" videos went viral in the first place.
It's fun to laugh at failure, and such schadenfreude perfectly captures the spirit of September baseball. Even clubs that are completely out of the postseason race can cause headaches. While the potential playoff teams are sweating it out, the others get to kick back, relax and ruin some seasons -- just for the fun of it.
It's completely petty, and it's the best part of the sport this time of year. Think back to the last day of the 2007 season: The Mets were in a freefall and desperately needed to beat the Marlins to keep their season alive. But why was winning that game important to the Fish? They were in last place.
Well, who wouldn't say no to immediately crushing the Mets' dreams with a seven-run first inning?
Miguel Cabrera and Cody Ross looked ecstatic crossing home plate as the boos reigned down at Shea Stadium. They were basking in the fury.
The feeling is even better when you can spoil the season of a longtime rival. Few teams have a more bitter history than the Dodgers and the Giants. The 1982 season ended with both clubs still alive in the NL West race and going head-to-head in San Francisco for the final series. The Dodgers erupted for a combined 19 runs in the first two games to eliminate the Giants.
The only thing the Giants could do to strike back was to return the favor in Game 162. Thanks to future Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, that's exactly what they did.
The defending World Series champions were sent home before postseason play even began. Morgan and the fans at Candlestick Park were elated. Dodgers skipper Tommy Lasorda was devastated.
But a decade later, Lasorda got his revenge.
The Giants won 103 games in 1993, tied for the most they've ever had in San Francisco. It didn't matter. They missed the postseason anyway, all because the Lasorda-led Dodgers (and their hometown fans) got petty. You don't even have to be a Giants hater for a nefarious smile to cross your face while seeing this:
Then, there's the case of the 2011 Red Sox. Their pitching went to shambles in September, sending them on a 7-20 tailspin out of the postseason picture. For the common fan, it was like watching a car crash in slow motion. It was impossible to look away.
It all came to a head in Game 162 in Baltimore, where a Red Sox win would at least clinch a tiebreaker with the Rays. Much like the 2007 Marlins, the 2011 Orioles were in last place. If they lost, it would be just another in a long line of defeats. But it was far more fun to stand their ground and break some hearts.
Look at how the Orioles reacted to destroying Boston’s dreams. You think they cared that this was only their 69th win of the season?
Not even a little bit. And neither did we. Their joy is infectious.
So remember: The next time you watch a blooper video like this ...
... think of The Freeze in the role of yet another September spoiler.
Andrew Mearns is a writer for Cut4 whose baseball obsession was born from the shattered dreams of Mike Mussina's perfect game attempt in 2001. He has a startling memory of World Series highlights that barely functions as a party trick.