GATHERING THE PIECES OF MY BROKEN HEART

1. It’s Thursday, October 6, 2016. The election is 33 days away.

2. Hopefully, Floridians are heeding all the warnings and getting as far away from the danger of Hurricane Matthew as they can.

These storms are not a lark – you can always repair the damage as long as you’re alive to do it.

3. Twelve hours ago, I loved baseball.

At that time, about 10 p.m. as I write this, I was in the middle of all the things I love about the game.

Two great pitchers dominating in completely different ways. One with guile, getting hitters to pop out lamely without working up a sweat. The other with force, routinely overpowering his opponents with 99 mile-an-hour sinkers.

Good defense, including a center fielder holding onto a baseball after banging menacingly into the wall.

A passionate crowd standing anytime the home pitcher had two strikes. High-fiving each other when he got the third one. Chanting his nickname.

And it wouldn’t have been love without having my daughter there. I love baseball because it runs so deep in my family, a bond that connects my grandfather and both my parents to both my children. They’re all in the ballpark with us – you can feel it in the way the two of us jump up and scream and hug at the good moments.

Finally, the game was scoreless. 0-0. No sign of give, but with it the knowledge that the stalemate could shatter with one combination of a mislaid pitch and well-positioned swing.

Of course, that’s what happened. Unfortunately, the pitch was mislaid by my team’s ace closer, and the swing was well-positioned by the other team’s batter.

And so the Mets lost the National League Wild Card game, 3-0 – there were a couple of runners on when 40,000 fans couldn’t will the ball from jumping the fence, but that was trivial.

Crushed hardly describes the feeling. I can’t say I’ve experienced too many punches in the gut in my life. But when you’ve invested so much of yourself into the game before you, there’s almost physical pain that accompanies a massive disappointment.

All the things you love go into that pain. It’s not that you’re disappointed so much as you feel sad for your family, and the thousands of fans with whom you’ve spent three hours, and the players with whom you feel so familiar that, if you met them, you wouldn’t understand why they don’t know that you like mayonnaise on your sandwiches.

So, 12 hours ago, I loved baseball.

And, now, when it’s easy to be bitter and dismissive, I still do. It still entertains. It still inspires. It still impresses. It still instills memories and reminds me of those I love. A great game like last night’s is a reminder.

I still love it. But, right this moment, I don’t like it very much.

I suspect that will change by spring training.

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