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I'll Accept My Gift Early, But I'd Like Icing On My Cake

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The A's do not like my birthday.

For many years now, I actually thought they just didn't like me, but that was before they finally won a clinching game at home, while I was jumping up and down in the stands, screaming my lungs out and hugging random strangers. As the Coliseum melded into one voice to the tune of the chilling "Marco" "Scutaro" chant, I was sure that was going to be the highlight of the decade, but of course, Marco delivered...and it just kept getting better and better. "Pandemonium at the Coliseum" indeed. So, yes, the A's do love me; I guess I was just born on the wrong day.

My birthday is October 14th. For those of you who are not so attached to the date, just let me sum up by saying that the A's ruined both my 16th and 25th birthdays--the only two birthdays in the last sixteen years that they were still playing, and when I say that they had bad games on my birthday, I'm understating the truth. It's been horrible.

This year is my 30th, and I decided to do something extra-special, something the A's couldn't ruin, so I contacted a travel agent in January and booked a weekend cruise to Mexico with assorted family and friends. As I was signing the papers, I said to my friend, "Well, this pretty much guarantees the A's a trip to the ALCS." Lo and behold, ten months later, here we are. I was not at all surprised at these turn of events, because of course the A's would find a way to play when I physically couldn't be there.

But despite knowing I was going to miss the second round of playoffs, my excitement was still palpable on Friday night. I was content with the fact that I got to see the A's clinch the first round, and I was resigned to watch the A's/Yankees from the cruise ship, while pretending I was at the Coliseum.

But then...something wonderful and unexpected happened; something that I hadn't even considered: Detroit won the second game, and forced everyone to look at postseason possibilities minus the Yankees, which of course, meant that our home games were not on the weekend I was out of town. And as quickly as I started to consider the consequences of a Detroit win, they actually did win the series and our opponent was set.

I was listening to KNBR (don't judge!) on the way back to L.A. last night, and forgive me for not knowing the source, but they read an email over the air from a Detroit fan, and it went something like this:

The Yankees are like the perfect rich couple that everyone knows. They have a lot of money, they take lots of trips, and they want for nothing. Their life, on the surface, is perfect. It isn't until you go deeper that you realize that their marriage is a sham, and is entirely without joy.

In contrast, Detroit is the couple that has been married for a while, where nothing has come easily to them. They have gone through ups and downs; highs and lows, but they find that in the end, they have gone through it together, as a team, and when they finally succeed at something, the joy they experience is unparalleled.

I have a feeling that even if the Yankees would have won the World Series, their team--and their fans--could not have experienced even a fraction of the joy that took place in the ballpark in Detroit tonight. For Detroit, it was all about the unadulterated pure joy of winning a baseball game; for the Yankees, it simply was another day on the job.

There's something to that analogy. For instance, I despise Kenny Rogers with every fiber of my being, but I stood up and applauded his pitching performance on Friday, choked up with him during his press conference, and felt myself tear up at the joy I felt from watching a baseball team celebrate a clinching victory with its fans.

Let the Yankees have ESPN and the biased commentators, who, no doubt, are scrambling for intelligent analysis on a series between two teams they've largely ignored. They can show Derek Jeter golfing to their hearts content. I'll be watching Detroit/Oakland; two teams who haven't been dancing this long in October in more than a decade; two teams who promise pitching duels, instead of slug-fests; two teams who exude pure, unabashed love for the game, and two teams who have cities full of fans asking nothing more than good October baseball.

Detroit vs. Oakland. Good for ball. A treat for fans. And the perfect birthday present for a baseballgirl.