Once when I was small, I cried so hard after an Oilers playoff elimination that I threw up a bunch and my mom kept me home from school the next day. Somehow this year’s elimination was worse than that.
From March to August, like many people – I spent most of my time on my own with nothing to look forward to. When the NHL announced their return to play, for the first time in months, I got to put something down in my calendar. I had something to look forward to again. And then very quickly, I didn’t anymore. In the dark of this nightmare year, I pinned a lot of hope to something I never had any control of. It was just easier to focus on than all the stuff that’s been hard to deal with. And then it was gone and I was left less than I’d had before – at least from March to August I had speculating on what hockey would look like in its return.
I’ve loved two teams my entire life: The Edmonton Oilers and the Toronto Blue Jays. Neither of them have given me a breadth of playoff experience in my adult life, so maybe I’m just not used to being good enough to lose this way. Whatever the case, since Edmonton’s playoff (or playoff play-in) elimination last month, I’ve struggled to be fully in on the Jays even though they’ve done everything to draw me in:
The talented young core had a six-game winning streak going until the Rays ended it on August 22nd. They kept up play, passing the Yankees in the standings and sat at 2nd in the AL East, with the possibility of 1st dangling before them. Winning is boring though, so the Blue Jays made the stronger narrative choice to drop six games in a row, including 3 games to the Yankees, putting their post-season in jeopardy. With a week of the regular season, The Blue Jays have left just enough space to lose their wildcard spot, so they’re either the hero scrappy underdog holding onto their spot, or about to lose to more heroic, even scrappier underdog. Baseball!
This is normally my shit but somehow, I’m not 100% in it. Somehow it all just feels hollow to me. Earlier this month, I was blaming it on not being over hockey. But I’ve thought better of that now.
The last time I saw my mom, neither of us made a big deal of it. We figured everything would blow over, and she’d come back from her home in Buffalo in a few weeks in time for us to go the the Jays home opener, like we always always do.
In August, losing hurt because it ended the distraction. In September, winning hurts because nothing can distract me from the fact I don’t know when I’m ever gonna be with the person that taught me to love the game .