Surprise.

Last year, at this time, I wanted to pour Gatorade over my head.

And I felt that last night, too, once Jemile Weeks came up big in the eighth in Anaheim and David DeJesus followed suit in the ninth (prompting Elvis Andrus to circle the bases himself in front of 5,000 fans in Arlington) and Vernon Wells skied to Coco Crisp in center field to lock in Oakland 3, Los Angeles 1, Texas 162+.

I felt it during the televised on-field and clubhouse celebration, and I was geared up to get some sleep out of the way and wake up this morning and fire off an emotional Ginger Ale blast of words that said almost nothing of real substance.

But while I don’t want to take any of this for granted, and don’t think that I am – the Giants are a game away from elimination from the NL Wild Card chase – I’m not that charged with adrenaline this morning.  I’m pumped up as I type this, but there’s no urge to put goggles on or tarp the furniture.

And I’m feeling good about that.

The Rangers, with some key off-season adjustments, kept themselves in the position of being the team to beat over the six-month grind.  The fact that, through 162, Texas has fended off the competition to earn the right to play on, once again, isn’t lost on me.  But, unlike last year, it feels completely like a hurdle, not like breaking through the finish line tape.

One day short of a year ago, from the moment Nelson Cruz squeezed a Chad Pennington fly in shallow left in Oakland in Game 154, until David Price’s first pitch to Elvis Andrus 11 days later, it felt like one big walkoff inside-the-park grand slam, times 100.

This year, to my slight surprise, I wake up this morning feeling like last night was a diving two-out catch in the alley with a couple runners on base, and now we’re coming up to bat in a tie game.  Very different.  I didn’t expect that.

Last year, sports cry and adrenaline rush.  This year, confidence and focus.

There’s home field on the line now, and the opportunity to get the playoff rotation lined up and some key guys off the field for a few innings here and there until Game One on Friday.  I can’t wait to take King Felix on today in front of a full house.

I might buy one of these for the kids today:

 

But for each one, I’m going to ask for three extra hangers.

Here we go.

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