This has been an incredibly long season for Tigers fans. The regular season was fairly easy to navigate, given enough beer and distracting flow charts (courtesy of Phil Coke's Brain), but that's because we all more or less knew the outcome: the Tigers were going to clinch the AL Central. Did anyone not working for a sports talk show doubt this? Of course not.
The postseason, on the other hand, has been far more trying. The Tigers had to win two elimination games against the Oakland A's, and if that felt especially stressful, it's probably because the Tigers have never had to face more than one elimination game in an ALDS. As for ALCS games, the last time the Tigers faced more than one elimination game was way the hell back in 2011.
Oh. Yes. I see. We've been here before, haven't we? And quite recently.
Alright then, with the Tigers now down 2-1 in the 2013 ALCS, and with haunting memories of 2011 swirling around, we need a game plan for surviving the rest of this series. Luckily for you, I have an Internet connection and a user account with Bless You Boys, so I am particularly qualified to supply you with the following suggestions. (FDA approval pending.)
Drink. A lot.
As an official member of the Bless You Boys writing staff, I cannot condone excessive drinking. However, as a card-carrying Tigers fan, I can tell you that this is the only way you're going to make it through the rest of the postseason. Stay thirsty, my friends? Not a chance. The goal here is to drink so much beer, rum, whiskey, or whatever else (in situations like Sunday night, after Ortiz hit the grand slam, I prefer straight Drano) that you can no longer remember what even happened in the past 24 hours. Unfortunately, this rarely works, and the end result is that you wake up the next morning with a hangover, possibly in bed with a goat named "Lancelot," remembering every single detail of the last game and in no condition to deal with daylight, let alone Twitter. (Not that I have ever ended up in bed with a goat named "Lancelot." A goat named "Terry," yes, but never "Lancelot." I have standards.)
On second thought, drinking to excess is a terrible plan. Let's move on.
Find an online community
Whether it's right here at Bless You Boys, Twitter, Facebook, or HotChicks4U.com, you need to surround yourself with other people as you navigate the postseason waters. Why? Because you need a place to vent, to celebrate, to think out loud, and to be labeled as "more brain-dead than a molding kumquat." Online communities can meet these needs for you. Just make sure to OCCASIONALLY engage YOUR CAPS LOCK key before you DECIDE to comment ON THE game. It will increase your credibility at least as much as randomly saying "small sample size."
Give in to emotional eating
We all deal with stress in different ways. Some of us need community. Some of us listen to relaxing music. Some of us go for long drives in the country, listening to the radio, eventually running out of gas and waking up next to an angry badger. And then there are those of us who eat the stress away. If you're worried about putting on an extra 20 pounds in the postseason, try munching on some sunflower seeds or a bag of pistachios. This works well until you see the "Salty Caramel Macchiato" label on your pretentious bag of snacks, and then you can't stop thinking about "Saltalamacchia," and suddenly seeds and nuts are not enough. In that case, go right after that pint of "I See You, Big Nutella" Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and eat yourself into a comfortable coma. You'll still wake up with a hangover, but you're less likely to find yourself in bed with an irritable barnyard animal. (Seriously, I've never done this, as far as you know.)
Embrace the Zen
I've never been able to go all the way with Buddhism, mostly because I can't afford the expensive robes, but the philosophy is basically sound. Focus on the moment. Find something in the here and now to celebrate. That was a beautiful base hit by Cabrera. That pitch by Max Scherzer was pure poetry in motion. The Tigers scored a run, so it must be the weekend. Benoit's face was so peaceful as he OH MY GOD ARE YOU KIDDING ME A GRAND SLAM?!?!?! WHAT IN THE UNHOLY CHRISTMAS CRACKERS WAS THAT STUPID SON OF A CHEESE-MUNCHING MOTHERLESS LEG-HUMPER ... breathe. Breathe. BREATHE! You know what? Screw the Zen. Find some ice cream. Or some rum. And a goat. (Not that I've ever done that.)
Take a break from baseball
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Obviously, I'm totally kidding. We're all addicted. Deal with it.
Start preparing for the off-season
I hate to break it to you, but the baseball season is almost over. One way or the other, whether the Tigers get bounced in the ALCS, or lose the World Series, or even (Odin be pleased) win all the pudding this year, we've got about a week and a half to two weeks left at most. Are you ready for the off-season? I have a stack of good fiction novels I'm ready to rip into. I have several movies I want to see. I have restaurants I want to visit, writing projects I want to work on, sports radio shows I want to call, and I haven't showered since April. (Hey, you DON'T mess with some superstitions, OK?!) Part of surviving the postseason is turning your mind towards the good things you have to look forward to in the post-season. Like counting the days until Spring Training.
There is no real "Epilogue" here. I've just always wanted to end a piece of writing that way. Have we talked about alcohol? Emotional eating? Finding inner peace? Alright then, I'm out of ideas. In the end it comes down to this: do what you have to do to survive the postseason. In some weird way, it doesn't really matter -- ultimately -- how this postseason ends. Whether the Tigers win, lose, or spontaneously combust (always a possibility when you have a gas can for a bullpen), we'll all be back here next year, ready to do a hard reboot and start all over again. Hopefully with far fewer goats.