Dealing with the Off-season

I've cried. I've been distraught. I've thrown a few (okay, a lot of) verbal punches at Giants fans. I've overanalyzed. I've panicked and I've had nervous breakdowns. I've had nightmares and I've had fantasies. I've been exiled from my group for a lunch period because of my constant A's ranting. I've shed more tears and I've been called an A's lunatic.

To the average person, I may seem like a crazy girl. A bit... obsessed. Okay... extremely obsessed. One might think I'm a little odd, considering not many teenage girls like baseball. Upon conversation, one might find me a little more intriguing in discovering that I actually know what I'm talking about when it comes to the game. To a normal human, I'm anything but ordinary.

To most people, I'm The A's Fan. At school, some people don't even know my name. To them, I am Mrs. Zito. For all they know, my name really could be Mrs. Zito. If someone wants to know how the A's are doing, they're advised to go to Mrs. Zito, The A's Fan. It's fascinating to hear what people say about me because they talk about me like a sort of A's guru. What people see on the outside is a passionate fan who, although might be a little obsessed, has an extreme devotion and loyalty for the A's. What they fail to realize is how of me really belongs to the sport.

To my parents, I'm insane. Blatantly and utterly mad. They think my passion is illogical. A teenage girl shouldn't like sports after all, right? They feel my energies are focused towards something that doesn't matter. They feel there are more significant and practical pastimes than watching an inconsequential sport. The A's are just a team. Baseball is just a sport. The Coliseum is nothing more than a stadium. The fact that it's something I love is trivial.

To my friends, I'm a little bit unstable. When the A's are playing, they know not to bother me. When Zito's pitching, they know not to utter his name. When I'm downhearted, they know what it takes to cheer me up. An old tape of Zito pitching in a September game against the Mariners in 2002, my A's blanket and Zito shirt will usually do the trick. They know that when I get started on a baseball rant, it's nearly impossible to get me to be quiet until my rant is over and done with. Most importantly, they know that to me, baseball is life.

To me, I'm... me.

Baseball is the very essence of my being. Life without baseball, to me, seems like an empty void.

Does that seem like crazy thinking to you?

This off-season, I've decided to deal. Usually, Octobers aren't tough. I've still got baseball to watch, even if the A's aren't in it. I've still got enough crack to feed my addiction. The dreaded withdrawal hasn't begun to take its effect on my mind.

People think I'm out of it when I tell them I need baseball to live. When I tell them I own an A's DVD, they think it's normal. After I mention that I've got a whole cabinet of taped games dating back to 2000, they think that I need to be put in a mental institution. This cabinet, however, is the only reason I am, in fact, not in an insane asylum during the off-season. When I feel like I'm going to have a BB (no, not an intentional walk--a Baseball Breakdown, as my friends so lovingly call them), I take a tape, put it into the VCR and watch, reveling in sweet baseball memories and illustrations of gorgeous spring and summer days in my mind. This is normal, right?

For the past few seasons, I've been collecting newspaper articles. A normal person collects the most imperative articles, focusing on what games caused major celebration. I collect the articles for every single last game that was played in that season. By the end of the season, I have 162 articles about games and roughly 200 more regarding any other blurb that might have been in the paper. When I feel a BB coming along, I take out the boxes with the newspapers from underneath my bed and begin cutting them out of the daily, leaving the article separate from the sports page. After cutting out six or seven articles, I take out my scrapbook from the particular season and begin placing the articles into the scrapbook in chronological order, paying careful attention to whether or not the article has a picture that goes along with it. If it does, I'll put the pictures and the box score on the pages after the article. The most important part of the scrap booking is that no one is allowed to help me. I have to do it myself. If anyone dares to help me out, I will be infuriated and angry for the rest of the day. Is that slightly peculiar?

During the off-season, I make countdown after countdown after countdown. I make a countdown until spring training, another one for the beginning of the season, a different one for the All-Star Game, an additional one for Fan Fest, an added one for next year's playoffs and really, anything else I can think of. I add these countdowns on my computer, on my calendar, on my phone, on chalkboards or whiteboards at school and anywhere else I can think of. I make "fliers" that I pass out when the beginning of the season creeps closer and closer. I constantly remind people that "there's only 93 more days left until spring training" or that "in 184 days, the All-Star Game will be in San Francisco". Trust me; it gets on people's nerves. I'm incapable of stopping, though. I'll do it instinctively, and if I'm not reminding people, I feel like something is missing out of my day.

So how exactly am I going to deal this off-season? Truthfully, this wasn't my decision. My loved ones were the ones that were tired of my November antics when live baseball wasn't available to watch. They say it's ridiculous for me to have boxes of newspapers and cabinets full of old tapes to watch when I feel like I'm going to go insane. To them, it's perfectly painless to survive an entire off-season.

They've begun to wane me from my baseball needs my taking my boxes of newspapers. My best friend says she'll give them back when spring training starts.

I'm thinking of raiding her house while she's sleeping.

They've raided my room. They want to make sure I've got nothing in there that will turn me towards off-season gloom.

I think I'm a good hider and a good liar.

They've taken away my tapes. My best friend says they're not good for me because the heartbreakers will launch me into an even deeper depression than the one I'm already in because of lack of baseball and the great, feel-good games will launch me into a "woe is me" mood because it will remind me of how there's no live baseball. She has a habit of constantly comparing me to Ben from Fever Pitch. I have to say, I do have the terrible habit of watching disastrous losses when I'm miserable.

Between me and you, I think the stash under my bed is plenty to keep my sane for the next few months. :]

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