Any way the wind blows…

Pat Hickey

Normally, my sense of smell is not the best. In middle school, I was the kid during the summer that, after running around and playing with friends all day, would jump in the pool instead of showering because I thought it was the same thing. Even today, I wouldn’t know if my apartment were burning down unless I saw flames.

But, when it comes to baseball in October, I know that smell. I bask in it every year, whether my team is in the pennant race or not. Temperatures drop into the 40s. Leaves start changing colors. It’s Mother Nature’s rather cruel way of telling baseball fans to wrap up a 162-game season in less than 30 days because winter is coming.

Think about that. After six-plus months of playing ball nearly every day, the world champion could be decided in only 11 games. It’s widely accepted that the postseason is a crapshoot. It’s impossible to predict because of the endless outcomes. For some fans, just getting in is good enough to call it a successful year.

I consume an unhealthy amount of baseball every year. I’d venture to say that half of my waking hours are spent watching, talking, studying and/or writing about the game. I have to. I’ve already been sucked in. The world of baseball is enormous. It’s built on history, tradition and novelty. But the thing I like most about this game is that no matter how many games I watch, there’s always something I’ve never seen before. And that’s especially true in October.

There is no difference between a 96-win team and an 89-win team during the regular season. That’s one game-winning, bloop single in extra-innings per month. In the postseason, there are no favorites. All teams are essentially equal, and only the baseball gods know what the recipe for success is. For as stat-oriented as the game is, numbers mean nothing in October. There is too small of a sample size to analyze it.

As the World Series approaches, just remember: what happens in October has been predetermined by the powers that be. There will be thrills and chills, and it’s best to simply watch the twists and turns than to figure out why it happened.