Ten. My elimination number is 10.
Or, more specifically, my team’s elimination number is 10.
The concept of an elimination number (or E-number, as I’ve grown to call it) is pretty sadistic. Using some basic math, it measures the minimum number of games your team needs to lose in order to guarantee they will not make the playoffs.
Interpreted more realistically, it is your team’s remaining lifespan. The number of losses you have left before your team is statistically in the morgue.
And my team’s E-number is 10.
In 10 games, my hometown Chicago White Sox will fade into obscurity (even though they haven’t been playing meaningful baseball since late July, but I digress) and join a club of 19 other teams who get to watch playoff baseball from their couches.
It seems like every April, hope springs anew. This year looked especially bright for my White Sox before their mid-summer slide. They went out and acquired All-Star right-hander Jeff Samardzija this past offseason to form a formidable top of the starting rotation with flame-throwing Cy Young threat Chris Sale. Samardzija’s ensuing mediocrity has contributed to and been representative of this lost season.
Two teams — the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds — have already left the party. By my count, six more will join them before my Sox get formally bounced. And then what’s the point of even watching baseball any more?
While other fans get to watch their teams pop champagne bottles, break playoff droughts and write their names in baseball history, I am left to sit angrily in the corner, trying to remember what it felt like when my team was any good.
Or I could use the annual disappointment of following a horrible team as fuel to write an article about ways to spend your time when your E-number mercifully hits zero. So here it goes:
1) If you are like me and love baseball, the simplest option is to just turn your attention to playoff baseball.
You get your pick of 10 (but really eight with the new wild card system) playoff-bound teams to root for, and the weird thing is each of them is probably pretty good, which might be a strange experience.
If you are even more like me, the thought of rooting for another team disgusts you — you would rather saw off your left leg than cheer for a different uniform.
You are not a fair-weather fan, and if your team isn’t in the baseball playoff picture, then there is no baseball playoff picture. If this is the case, I have a tremendous amount of respect for you. Maybe option two suits you better.
2) You love baseball but you can’t watch it because your team was officially eliminated before mid-September. So why not watch a sport that’s kind of baseball?
That’s right, tune in to ESPN3 on Friday, Sept. 11 at 5:30 a.m. to catch England take on Australia in the cricket match of the decade.
The game probably isn’t that important, as the two international powerhouses would have faced each other four times in seven days before that, but there isn’t a lot to work with given that it seems the Indian Premier League ended on May 24.
And that was back in the past, when your team still had a shot. Unless you are a Phillies fan, in which case I apologize.
3) If cricket doesn’t do it for you and even the thought of a sport with a bat and ball makes you sick, try your hand at making some French toast.
French toast is basically the opposite of baseball in every way imaginable — it involves no drag bunts, takeout slides and little to no umpires. I’m also told it is fairly easy to make.
You simply crack a couple eggs, add some milk and cinnamon and stir. Grab a few slices of bread, dunk them in the mixture and toss them onto a pan at medium heat.
Wait until each side is golden brown and voila — not only do you have a delicious breakfast, but you’ve already forgotten about how awful your team is.
Hopefully your baseball season is filled with joy and excitement. But if your team is also a cellar dweller, maybe some of these ideas will ease the pain just a bit.
They won’t, but what else are you going to do as that E-number whittles down?
Try not to get too discouraged. The beautiful thing about baseball is it’s not French toast — and there’s always next year.