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No Rest in the West

Alright, I'll admit it: I HATE the West Coast. Yep, that's right, the sunshine, the beautiful people, the rolling hills of vineyards...I hate it all. Why, you ask? Because, you see, the West Coast has baseball teams, and when those baseball teams play MY baseball team I end up having to make a choice that would make Sophie cringe and say "Nope! Sorry…can't do it. NOOOT GONNNNNNA' DO IT."

Yes, like most hardworking American sad-sacks, I have to get up early every morning to drag myself into an office job I don't exactly care for. What makes these jobs bearable for all of us (and I think most hardworking Americans would agree) is that we have certain comforts and pleasures to come home to; motivation, if you will. Well, for at least six months out of every year, the thing that motivates me to sit obediently at work in my ergonomic desk chair as the seconds tick by is baseball. Reds baseball, to be exact. That being said, many of you can empathize with the intense, suppressed aggression I must endure when the Reds travel to the West Coast and I am forced to choose between watching more than an inning or two of the game or actually feeling like a functional organism the next day at the job. Most of the time, I am sad to say, sleep wins out. So, in effect, this means that because of the necessity to perform at least adequately at my job, the need for sleep makes it impossible to enjoy the one measure of motivation that pulls me through that very same job, day in and day out. When put like that, I can practically taste the irony, and it is BITTER.

So, what we have here is one of life's little stink bombs. A real catch-44 (in that it sucks twice as much as your run-of-the-mill catch-22). A situation that, no matter which way you slice it, is less than ideal. Yet, it gets worse. I'll start by saying that Monday night, fresh off a wedding weekend in Virginia where I could barely catch Sportscenter, let alone watch the Reds games, I took the plunge and decided to stay up for the whole thing. In that the Reds won, it was a worthwhile (if unexciting) endeavor. However, I pretty much immediately regretted that decision when I awoke the next morning, tired as balls, and arrived to work in one of those "someone-must-have-pooped-in-his-Cheerios" moods. After spending the day taking frequent bathroom breaks (to douse the haze out of my eyes), fantasizing about taking Costanza naps under my desk, and cataloguing all the reasons I shouldn't go to the gym that didn't end with "I'm a lazy cow," I decided to hit the sack at the normal time. The Reds had taken a 3-1 lead in the 5th inning – by no means a lock, but enough of a lead that I could at least fall asleep happy and hopeful. And, immediately after I awoke for pee break #1 (about 3:30am) I consulted my trusted Blackberry to learn the final score. Bleary-eyed and half-conscious, I took my phone off its charger and tapped into the ESPN scores page. Reds win 11-7??? Whaaaaaat????

At no time in my life have I or will I be great at math, and that definitely includes the vulnerable waking moments in an otherwise quiet night's sleep. However, even zombie-Reed could tell that in the last four and a half innings of this particular game, there had been a veritable ass-load of scoring. Upon closer review (the next day…via calculator), I concluded that a whopping fourteen runs had been scored in the game after I made the ill-fated decision to hit the hay. As all sports fans know, missing out on this much action is simply unacceptable. Yet, my pain didn't end there. Not only did a flurry of offensive fireworks occur in innings 6 through 9, the Reds actually staged one of their best comebacks of the year, scoring four runs in the 8th inning and four in the 9th. All while I was snoozing. Now, you would think Tuesday night's barnburner would have altered my M.O. a bit. You would think that, come the 6th inning last night, as my eyelids started to droop and I began to sink heavily into my loveseat that I would have had the gumption to stick it out and see it through. You would be wrong.

That's right, the 6th inning came around, the Reds had a 4-1 lead, and I decided to pack it in. After all, the offense was putting a wallop on Joe Saunders and Travis Wood had allowed two hits. Even more than the previous night, I was comfortable enough with the lead that I allowed myself to kick the ol' bucket. Another bad decision. 5:30am rolled around and I was up again to relieve myself. Reds win 9-4??? Whaaaaaat???? Eight more runs in the last 3 innings? You gotta' be kidding me. I felt cheated, to say the least.

Now, the optimist inside of me says that I should just be happy that the Reds got the sweep. ESPECIALLY when considering the Reds' tendency to play like they are being coached by Keanu Reeves when they head out West. And, for the most part, I am. Since being swept by the Mariners back in June, the Reds have reeled off 6 straight wins on the West Coast; three against the A's and three against the Snakes. Trust me, I'm thankful. I've seen past Reds teams start out blazing and then get knocked around on the West Coast worse then a contestant on Wipe Out. I've seen playoff dreams flushed quicker than pot at a high school kegger, usually at the hands of one of those pesky Pacific Time Zone outfits. So, yeah, the sweep is just fine with me. Yet, however positive of a jump-start the Arizona series may have been to this road trip, the fact remains that the Reds still have to square off against the Dodgers and the G-men six times in the next six days, teams that have given them fits. I, for one, am sensing a bit of a roll for the Reds, so I see them winning both series'. The question, however, is if I will be awake to see it happen.

I hate the West Coast.

Reed Domer-Shank 8-20-2010

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