It's not easy, but fans must press on

If you get paid to write every day, the words are easy. The words are not often brilliant, not often poetic. But they're not hard to come up with because coming up with words becomes, like most things, easier and easier the more you do it.

The trick, for me at least, is to come up with something every day that you don't already know. And at this moment, just an hour after Aaron Boone sent a defective knuckleball into the late night, I'm not sure what I can write that you don't already know.

You already know that Grady Little made one of the biggest mistakes in postseason history. You already know that roughly 24 and 48 hours earlier, Dusty Baker made the same sort of mistakes. You already know that the Yankees are ultimately unbeatable because of their mystique ... unless they do get beat, which they did in each of the last two Octobers.

You already know that while the Marlins do have more speed than the Yankees, the team that wins the World Series will likely be the team that draws more walks and hits more home runs. You already know there's an excellent chance that now we'll probably never get to see an all-Fenway/Wrigley World Series, which would have been one of the greatest things that ever happened.

What don't you know? Well, if you're like me you still don't know why we care so damn much.

    Mr. Neyer,

    I don't expect to have this responded to or posted. I just watched the team I've followed for pretty much my entire life lose to our bitter rivals in an amazing game. Even though it is just a game, ultimately meaningless -- after all, the sun will rise tomorrow (I think) -- this honestly is one of the lowest moments of my life. It seems amazing to me that sports, which in the grand scheme of things means so little, can seem to mean everything. How amazing that we let these games manipulate our lives this way. Why do you think this is so?

    Josh V.

I don't guess that I know, Josh. Which is embarrassing to admit, given that I've pondered this very question many times, while agonizing after yet another depressing Royals loss or another spectacular flame-out by Kansas in the NCAA basketball tournament or another playoff collapse by the Vikings. Why do we care so much?

We care, I think, because we want to care. There are certainly times when it feels like we don't have any choice in the matter, that we're stuck with whichever team we happen to have attached ourselves to. I have gone through stretches where I stopped following my favorite teams with my typical fervor.

I think we like sports because they're a welcome respite from the humdrum: driving the kids to soccer practice, taking the dog for a walk, three squares a day ... they're not the same for everybody, but most of us can predict with a great degree of certainty what we'll be doing tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

One thing we don't know, however, is who's going to win the next game. Yes, in retrospect it seems as if the Cubs and Red Sox were somehow fated to lose, but I don't believe in fate. They lost, and they could almost as easily have won, even in the face of their managers perhaps acting stupidly.

Sports brings to our lives a welcome uncertainty. And when you marry that uncertainty to the familiarity we have with our favorite teams and their histories ... well, then you've got yourself a passion, if not an outright obsession.

But for most of us, it's voluntary. After many years of obsession, I once spent an entire year not caring about my favorite NFL team. And you know what? I missed them, and at the first tiny sign of progress I took them back. Not because I had to. Because I wanted to.

Right now, being a Red Sox fan isn't easy, nor is being a Cubs fan. But the sun will come up tomorrow, and when it does you've got a choice to make. You can give up on your favorite team, and find other ways to relieve the quiet desperation of your predictable life. Or you can stay the course, and be there when the fantasy finally becomes the reality.

Senior writer Rob Neyer writes four columns per week during the baseball season. His new book, "Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups," has just been published by Fireside. For more information about the book, visit Rob's Web site.