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How to watch postseason baseball (when you don’t really care).

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Is this you during the 2009 postseason?When I completed yesterday’s article on baseball’s lack of parity, I slipped into a coma of jaded baseball indifference. Despite having the opportunity to finally watch a live playoff baseball game, I didn’t. I popped in a library-rented copy of Ghost Town starring Ricky Gervais and sat there on the futon and stared blankly into our tiny television screen.

Now that’s fun!

As the movie droned on, I had an epiphany. I popped up and turned the movie off and immediately tuned into the Angels/Yankees game on Fox Network.

How did it get this bad? How did I become so uninterested in the sport I love so much? Was I burnt out from the 500 or so games I’d taken in during the regular season? Or did I just not care about any of the teams still involved in this year’s World Series race?

Choosing Ghost Town over October baseball left me incredibly shaken; wrestling with that questionable and hasty decision left me sleepless and anxious.

But this morning I woke up feeling revived. Despite four 2008 playoff teams making appearances in this postseason and the inherent been-there-seen-that feelings, I have decided I’m going to finish this season strong: like Ozzie Guillen’s White Sox, I’m going to take two out of three in the season’s last series. I’m going to watch as much as I can and I’m going to cheer when someone hoists that World Championship Trophy.

But once your favorite team has been eliminated and the pool is narrowed to the usual suspects, what do you do to stay interested? Here are some ways I’ve started to make the postseason a little more interesting (even if you’re not interested).

  • Root for players, not teams. Despite genuinely disliking most of the players on the New York Yankees because of their association with Alex Rodriguez, I get a little satisfaction cheering on Johnny Damon who, despite his baby-like arm, has put together quite a string of solid, yet unspectacular, offensive seasons. The Angel’s Torii Hunter is, perhaps, the game’s most exciting centerfielder and this is a chance to witness his fleet-feet on the big stage (forget about the misplay in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series) on East Coast time. Choose a few of your personal favorites and follow their game, not the team’s.
  • Admire Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Jim Thome, Joe Torre, Vladimir Guerrero, Bobby Abreu, and Pedro Martinez. In a few years, these guys will be gone and a generation of baseball will end. One has to respect all of their accomplishments and the successes they’ve had on the ball field. No matter who they play or manage for, these are guys who you should watch and revere and appreciate.
  • Learn about the next generation of superstars. Most every team in this year’s postseason has a few budding stars, players that any real baseball fan should have an interest in. The Angel’s Kendry Morales, the Dodger’s Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, and the Phillie’s Jayson Werth are among the game’s youngest and most exciting players. They are going to be household names in a few years, so watch them mature before your eyes.
  • Follow the stories instead of the games. This is just the second postseason for the Phillie’s 37-year-old Raul Ibanez in his illustrious and, up-until-2008, underappreciated 14-season career. Could this be his last chance at a ring? Will one of these next starts be the last for 15-year veteran Andy Pettitte? Could Joe Torre and his Dodgers face his long-time team, the Yankees, in the World Series? Even if the same old song and dance doesn’t seem exciting, there really is some interesting storylines.

If that seems like a lot of work, it is. But tonight I’ll weather the storm along with the Angels and Yankees and endure what it sure to be a four hour affair. And if I’m too tired at the end, my girlfriend rented Vicky Christina Barcelona. Two words: Scarlett Johansson. Unlike Ghost Town, that IS better than October baseball.

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