Chill in the Air
Folded in my closet on a shelf is a red hooded sweatshirt. On the front is Texas Rangers and something in regards to the 2010 playoffs. “Hoodie weather” in Texas is a short season, and fond to all of us. But this one is more special than most. It’s a reminder to me of what October baseball is all about. A sustained run of games, deep into the month, that sees you enjoying the boys of summer, in the crisp night air of fall. In the state of Texas, this is rare, reserved only for late season High School Football, and of course Dallas Cowboy games.
I was sitting in Coach Hick’s Algebra class during the first playoff series in Arlington Texas. The year was 1996. It was still a new school year, and that meant new clothes. I had a jacket from County Seat that I was exceptionally excited to wear. The fresh Doc Martens finished off the look. But it was September, and September in Texas still means temperatures in the nineties. I needed it to be fall. I needed that first cold front to push through. I was looking for an excuse to dress more warmly. Playoff baseball could be it! We had all seen it on TV!
“You mean, like when those guys in New York are all wearing coats, and you can see their breath with every pitch? Fall is here?!”
Pull the coat off the hanger, lace up the Docs. There’s a chill in the air. This was October.
The games were over mostly before I even could get home from school. Really, the series was over before it even started. Same for the next two flashes in the playoffs in 1998, and 1999, respectively. Each time, my interest gained and my excitement grew. I started to get the smallest of goose bumps. To yearn for the fall air a little more than normal. Alas, this was not October baseball. It was more like a derailed Friday cold front, promised by Troy Dungan on the previous Monday. Some cooler temps, sure, but barely enough to switch to jeans. Definitely not jacket weather.
Fast forward eleven years later. September 2010. This is a contender. This is the real deal. This is the American League MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Cliff Mother Effin’ Lee. This is October baseball. I got a new hat. Foam antlers. And a new red hooded sweatshirt. I wore it on a Friday night, with my long-time best friend, and 54,000 new best friends. We jumped up and down in cool night air. The dugout emptied. We had cold beer poured on us and somehow it warmed our hearts. I looked around at the confetti, the hats and arms in the air. I felt those chills for the first time. Those October Chills.
I’m not sure if the scarcity is what makes me long for it so, or the game itself, or the implications of the games, or because that damn hoodie is so comfy, but I want it badly. I want to forget about the lack of feeling in my fingers, ears, and nose. I want to be cold in my seat but warm in my chest. Lose my voice, and lose my mind, then find myself. I want October baseball!
Let’s put the Angels, and champagne, both on ice, because I want to get warm and cozy with 54,000 strangers. I want to stand for three hours in the frigid autumn air…
And then… I want to feel those chills.