I never really fully appreciated how long a baseball season was until just last season. Seriously. I just never fully comprehended how long six months of baseball was because It was the first time as a fan that all 162 games had meant something to me.
1995? Nope, that was a strike-shortened playoff run.
2007? Nope. I wasn't all in with the Rockies in 2007 until September. Sure they had hung around on the fringe of playoff contention most of the season, but we'd never experienced the things we've experienced since, so my focus wasn't as intense.
2008? We should have been, but that thing went belly up quickly.
2009 it finally happened. I finally experienced the ups and downs of the chase, the catch, the pass by, the being caught and passed again, and the recapturing and holding on.
It was exhausting for me as a fan emotionally and mentally. Fun as hell, but you feel it when you find yourself waking up on short rest night after night for that many months. One can only imagine how much it catches up to the players and coaches. And then you factor in the physical toll it adds on them.
So now you come back in 2010 thinking you know what to expect. You think you can pace yourself, maybe not expend so much energy early because you understand how much you'll need later, and then you find yourself dropping games to teams you should be dominating.
Suddenly you're 7-8 games back leading up to the all-star break. You make a strong push then to get within two. Now you've seen how quickly and easily you can make up ground, so you put things back in neutral to save some gas.
Next thing you know you're down 11 games on August 22nd.
Now you have to put your pedal to the metal for five weeks straight. .
That works perfectly for three weeks... and then you just flat run out of gas. It doesn't make a bit of difference how much you saved earlier, because you needed to use so much of it so quickly, that it's all just gone before you hit the finish line.
Is there time for a refueling? There is, but whether or not it matters depends on how wisely the Giants, Padres and Braves have managed their fuel tanks. Do they have enough to get to the finish line, or will we see them tank it in the final laps?
Good lord I'm comparing baseball season to a Nascar race. Clearly I'm running on fumes as well.
Jeff Francis vs Ian Kennedy... Kennedy.