It was a school night, but I let my youngest daughter stay up to watch the end of the playoff game. It was only about half an hour past her bedtime, the game was almost over, and she really likes it when the players "jump all over each other." Since the game was almost over, I let her keep watching.
She had been rooting for the Cardinals. When the playoffs began, she decided that Albert Pujols was her favorite player in the playoffs, so she would root for his team. She likes Pujols because he's really good in Backyard Baseball.
But when I explained to her in the top of the ninth that the Astros had never been to the World Series before, she decided that it would be OK if the Astros won. We kept watching, counting down to the jumping-all-over-each-other moment..."two outs to go"..."one out to go"..."one more strike"...
And then Eckstein got a hit. Edmonds walked. Up came Pujols.
"Pujols is really good," she said. "He can hit grand slams."
"Well, right now," I said, "he can only hit a three-run homer. But they'd still probably be pretty happy with that."
"Oh my God," I blurted out, the instant he connected. And as it landed, all I could say was, "Wow..."
I instantly felt really sorry for the Astros fans. That's gotta be one of the all-time stomach punches. As an A's fan, I've suffered a few stomach punches of my own, but if the Astros lose this series, this one's probably worse than all of mine. Yes, even the one-of-which-we-do-not-speak.
My daughter and I sat in a sort of stunned silence for the rest of the game. Well, maybe only I was stunned. She was probably just tired. The game dragged on another ten minutes past her bedtime. As soon as the last out was recorded, I said, "Off to bed, now." She went, no objections.
Tomorrow, we'll probably pay for this. My daughter will probably be cranky and irritable, and we'll have to diffuse a tantrum or two. But the tantrums will only last a few minutes, and will quickly be forgotten. This evening may end up being one of her earliest baseball memories, one magical game that everyone talks about for years to come, that she was actually watching. The memory will last a lifetime. The price is worth it.