Scoreboard Watching In September

September. Fall is right around the corner. As warm summer days slowly turn to cool autumn afternoons Major League Baseball is reminded that with the changing of the calendar comes the hope for tomorrow and the postseason, the eternal glory of October. The place where dreams can be fulfilled, where greatness is immortalized. Each game matters. Every inning counts.

In September, players begin staring down the scoreboard as the updates come blowing in from out of town like a gust of spine tingling wind. Producing both shivers good and bad. Projecting light and darkness, hope and despair. A glimmer of opportunity or a forecast of doom. As the days grow shorter and night starts to set in earlier and earlier so to does the incandescent glow of the scoreboard, looming over the players’ shoulders like a blinding specter. Haunting each step around the base path. You cannot hide from the bright lights. The glowing numbers and letters materializing from beyond the outfield fence creating an omnipresent shadow across the diamond.

In September, the long season feels more like a marathon than a sprint but the race for the playoffs drives on. A baseball player must be focused. A baseball player must not be easily distracted. This is not a time to throw caution to the wind. Movements must be calculated. Each pitch executed with perfect precision. Each swing mimicking the path of the baseball as it tumbles towards the plate at speeds hovering perilously close to triple digits. To focus on the scoreboard instead of the opposition is the difference between a swing and a miss. A run and an out. A win and a loss.

Players are instructed to focus on today because tomorrow is beyond their control. Yet the scoreboard exists to contradict the sage advice of managers and coaches. The numbers and messages that litter stadium jumbotrons pollute and poison the instincts of even the game’s most experienced. Patience will be put to the test as the results filter in from cities across the country. Los Angeles. Kansas City. Baltimore. Those scores, those numbers, that calculus can change the way you play.

Yet the temptation remains, the bright lights and numbers cascading from far off in the distance like a siren’s call. The scoreboard is calling. It wants you to look. It wants to remind you of the world that is beyond your control. For it’s only the fortunate few who control their destiny. Who do not allow the scoreboard to dictate their future.

The baseball postseason is within grasp. Seize it. Before the scoreboard consumes all hope, shining on deep into the darkness. Fading towards October.