Normally, I consider myself an optimist. You know, the glass is half full, everything will turn out fine attitude about most things.
Except when I have a lot riding on the outcome. Then my optimism turns cowardly and slinks into a corner to watch the proceedings with a fearful eye.
I have a lot riding on the outcome of tonight’s game between the Mets and the give-me-a-homerun-or-give-me-nothing Yankees, featuring the vaunted R.A. Dickey and Yankees’ ace, CC Sabathia. I have a lot riding on this game because it’s the damn Yankees we’re playing, and they’ve already stolen at least two of their four victories in the five games they’ve played against the Mets this year. I have a lot riding on this game because it feels like a sacred opportunity for redemption, for payback, for a way to send that slingshot flying straight into Goliath’s oversized head. I have a lot riding on this game because I crave the satisfaction and pleasure of knocking Goliath down a peg or two. Or five.
But most of all, I have a lot riding on the outcome of this game because I want R.A. to win.
I want to see him rise above all the media hype, the scrutiny, the spotlight, the sudden tsunami of attention, and do what he does best: knuckle his way to a victory. I want to know that he can maintain that character and integrity he’s known for, even in the face of all the adulation and hero worship. I want to believe in his ability to withstand the pressure of thousands of eyes and TV cameras focused on him, demanding—daring—him to live up to suddenly sky-high expectations. Now that he’s evolved from a journeyman knuckleball pitcher to The Knuckleballer of the Century, I want to see that the journeyman spirit is still alive and well, still inspiring and delighting fans with its simplicity, authenticity and fierce determination.
I want R.A. to win.
And so I have a lot riding on the outcome of tonight’s game.
I’ll be watching it with my stomach dancing and twirling like the knuckleball, palms sweating, feet wearing out my hardwood floors in my best imitation of Terry Collins during Santana’s no-hitter.
Will optimism win the day?