Rowley: The Astros remind the Rays and us of their, and our, mortality

From SABR member Meg Rowley at FanGraphs on October 6, 2019:

I haven’t conducted a study or anything, but I suspect that baseball fans assume themselves to be capable of playing at the highest professional level more than fans of any other professional sport. It’s not surprising; basketball players are 20 feet tall, all elbows and shoe-squeaks and legs, and football players have such obvious size. The line between civilian and non is clear. But baseball players exist on a continuum that has room for José Altuve and Ji-Man Choi, players who are by turns relatively small and squishy, and it creates the illusion that major leaguers are, or could be, just like us.

Only they aren’t. They are human beings possessed of feeling and ambition and meanness, of course, and someone, somewhere cares for them, but their smallness and squish aren’t like ours. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the postseason, when the small and the tall and the relatively-soft of middle remind us who they are, and thus, who we are. It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you could trade places with some sad-sack on the 114-loss Tigers; it’s much harder to pull off the same con when faced with the Astros, however diminutive. Last night, Houston beat Tampa Bay 3-1 to take a 2-0 series lead, and in their dominance, forced us to recall just how great a distance there is between our beer-league softball teams, and the majors’ green fields, a lesson delivered in three parts.

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Originally published: October 8, 2019. Last Updated: October 8, 2019.