Sunday is big family dinner day at my parents’ house. Yesterday there were fewer people there than usually are and there were still 7 people at dinner. So we’re eating our dinner, enjoying each other’s company, when my brother-in-law turns to my cousin and asks, “So…what’s wrong with your Red Sox this year? Last place, huh?”
You’ll note I didn’t write that he said this to me. He knows better. My cousin is a pretty mellow guy. He laughed my brother-in-law off, said something about winning the World Series in 2013 and it was over. But it stuck in my craw.
So in an effort to do things in the new year that are better for me, I’ve tried to limit my daily online time. Because of this, I was late in getting the news that Kyle Snyder has a cool new job.
The Rays announced their Minor League on-field coaching and medical training staffs for the 2012 season on Thursday.
Two new coaches are in the mix, both of whom played in the Majors Leagues: former Rays catcher Paul Hoover, who will manage the Gulf Coast League Rays (Rookie), and Kyle Snyder, who will serve as the pitching coach for Hudson Valley (Short-Season A).
While I am always sad when a player decides it’s time to stop playing, coaching in the minors seems like the perfect beginning to a new career for Kyle and I’m excited for him. The Hudson Valley Renegades will be playing a series against the Lowell Spinners (in Lowell) August 18th through the 20th. It’s been a couple of years since I hit Lowell for a game…this might be the year I get back there!
The fact that my email accounts pretty much blew up with people excited to tell me about Kyle’s job amused me greatly. Though I might sometimes get disillusioned by MLB, there are always little things that will remind me why I love it so much.
Slowly things are happening that are getting me excited for the new season. On Saturday, January 14, the New Stars for Young Stars charity event at Jillian’s in Boston will be happening with, among others, Bobby Valentine and Jarrod Saltalamacchia appearing. As I’ve mentioned before, the “special guest” at that event is Pedro Martinez. If Pedro Martinez can’t get you excited for baseball you’re either without a soul or a Yankees fan.
And while it seems ridiculous that this event yearly gets me as happy as it does, Saturday, February 11th is Truck Day. While this off-season has left me sad and full of doubt, Truck Day is, for me, like New Year’s Day. It’s the beginning of the season and it erases the previous season, reminding us that spring is coming and with a new baseball season anything can happen. This year, especially, I’ve been holding on to the idea of Truck Day being the day when I finally snap out of this funk and embrace this team I love again. It’s been a strange off-season for me. I wouldn’t say the worst I’ve experienced but definitely the strangest. I can’t remember a time when I had such conflicting feelings about the Red Sox and, really, baseball in general.
Am I the only one stuck in this ambivalent quagmire about the 2012 team?
So the Red Sox lose and I shut off my television but I’m still on the computer. Moments later, the Yankees lose and the Red Sox season is definitely over. My immediate reaction was to jump on here and write about how they didn’t deserve to play in October and how ridiculous it was that they played so horribly in September…and I was going to rant and rant and rant.
And then it hit me. It was weird, really, but it just hit me that I wasn’t that upset. Now don’t get me wrong, I thought I was going to cry (But I didn’t. You know when I cried? 2003. 1999. 1986. 1978. I cried all those times.) and then I thought I might punch something but both those feelings passed because, ultimately, while I am extremely sad that the Red Sox lost and won’t be going to the post-season (and I am sad, I promise you), I can’t be mad (and I don’t understand anyone being mad. Mad to me means you feel you’re entitled to this and the Red Sox purposely didn’t give it to you. I don’t get that at all.) although I am pleased we get a day off from any baseball because I’ll need it to wrap my brain around the playoffs.
As much as it pains me to say it, this team didn’t deserve to see October baseball and the Tampa Bay Rays did. Plain and simple. That doesn’t change the fact that I hope both the Rays and the Yankees get swept out of the first round (because, hoo boy, do I). It also doesn’t change the fact that after their horrendous start to the season and their God-awful ending to it, all the stuff in the middle was a heck of a lot of fun. I enjoyed this season an awful lot and the Red Sox were in it up until the final moments of the last game of the season. I don’t care if they blew a lead because of poor play in September…I enjoyed this season right up to the moment when they made me want to cry. And that makes me happy (well, not right now but it’ll make me happy in, say, November).
At some point I’ll write my opus to the 2011 season but right now I’ll just say this about baseball: I’m in full spite mode from this moment forward. I’m not one of those people who will abandon the post-season because the Red Sox aren’t in it…I’ll be paying attention and trying to will the Yankees and Rays to ALDS heartbreak. I refuse to give into the sadness I’m feeling right now and plan to channel it into something more productive…spite. And I’m feeling the spite terribly strong right now and, really, it’s only going to get stronger.
Okay I’ll say something else. I keep reading folks saying that this was more painful that <insert painful year here> and to that I say, “Are you high?”. 1978 was horrendous. 1986 was cruel. 1999 was frustrating beyond words and 2003…well I still can’t even talk about 2003. This loss sucks. For me, it’s on the same level as being swept out of the 2005 ALDS by the Chicago White Sox (which, may I remind you, sucked). But in 2005 we were worried that 2004 might have been an aberration. It’s 2011 and we have both 2004 and 2007 behind us. This isn’t a matter of our being devastated that the Red Sox lost because when the hell are they going to win a World Series again…it’s a kick in the pants because they did so well all season but it’s nothing we can’t get over…and we will. This ownership has shown us time and again that they’ll do what needs to be done to win. And I have faith that’ll happen in 2012. For now, I get to stew for a day and then focus on watching the American League East get taken down in the playoffs.
I know it’s painful, people, but we’ll get past it. We always do.
Have to get this off my chest: I want to go back and delete every entry or tweet that I’ve written defending John Lackey in any way. I won’t get into why (you can Google it and find out for yourself) because I hate feeding into the gossip mongers, but if the story is true in my mind there is NO defense for him and, really, I couldn’t care less what happens to him from here on out. And that’s all I have to say about that.
But about that game…(not that first one which we will not speak of but that second one)
When Mark Teixeira doubled in two runs and then scored on a bad throw in the first inning I yelled, out loud for the baseball gods to hear me, “I’m done! I’m SO done with this!” and stormed out of the room with the television. I paced around until the next inning began and then sat myself down in front of the television and kept watching until the very end. Apparently I wasn’t “done” but I needed to finally let the frustration out.
And I’m glad I didn’t give up because the way the game was won, while more than a bit painful at times, was beautiful. (Beautiful as in “That baby is butt ugly but his mother thinks he’s beautiful”, beautiful.)
So are there really people who believe that the reason the Red Sox are losing is because they a) have no heart or b) just don’t care? Really? How does that work? They come back from a horrendous start to the season to stay neck and neck with the Yankees for first place in the division all season long just to say “Screw it, we don’t want to go to the playoffs anyway!”?
Having this discussion via email with a friend who was at Fenway yesterday and she wrote this about how she felt about the fans at the game who felt the team wasn’t putting their heart into it:
They weren’t even bad people, necessarily–just completely unaware of both a) how athletes feel about the game they’ve devoted their lives to, and b) the limitations of any individual’s capacity to observe everything about the game as a spectator.
As usual, Kelly O’Connor nails it and is much more rational than I. We now return you to my rant:
(Hey it worked for Beckett!)
After last night’s game I went to the Rays message board at rays.com (I sometimes do this with the opponent after a game) and was surprised by the number of fans complaining that the Red Sox were given preferential treatment by the umpires last night. In my experience, there is usually one troll who shows up on the message boards saying the the Red Sox pay the umps (or that the umps just want to ensure the Red Sox are in the playoffs) but no one else really takes that troll seriously. Last night, many fans were agreeing that the umps were giving Beckett a different strike zone than Shields. I laughed it off. Fans get worried and start to fear the worst, so as ridiculous as it was, I understood where they were coming from.
Then this morning I read this quote given by Joe Maddon:
that is all.
I missed the entire game yesterday.
I was very upset about that while this was happening. I convinced myself that yesterday’s game would be smooth sailing and the Red Sox would be sweeping Toronto out of Fenway and I wanted to see it. But I had a prior commitment that I couldn’t change and kept me away from a television or even my cell phone…and I suppose it turned out all for the best.
Everyone has bad stretches, I get this. Heck this entire team has had their share of bad stretches, so I hesitate to overreact about Daniel Bard. Truth is, though, I just can’t shake the idea that he’s either just gassed from the long season or we’re seeing some breakdown that might have longer lasting implications for Bard. In any event, a phone call from my father after the game told me how things went. I keep reading about how Terry Francona is in love with Bard and that’s why he keeps bringing him in. When my father called me, he began the call with “I don’t think Tito likes Bard all that much”. I knew that meant he brought Bard in and Bard blew another one and I knew that meant I would be avoiding the likes of Twitter all night because as much as I was thinking “Can we just maybe rest the kid for a few games and try to nip this in the bud?” I didn’t want to read all the rantings from everyone else (rantings that tend to be much more colorful than mine!).
Okay…so that happened. Rays are in town for the weekend and I have three friends coming in from all over (Florida, North Carolina and California, to be exact) and they will all be spending some time at Fenway for this series…the baseball gods and the Red Sox won’t let them down…right?
Listen, if you want to panic about what lies in store for the Red Sox, have at it. I’m not going to pretend the team is playing great ball right now. I’m not happy about them squandering the struggles of the Yankees and I’m certainly not pleased with their losing ground in the Wild Card standings. But I didn’t panic when the team began the season so dismally and I’m not panicking now.
Here’s what I’m wondering: If the Sox are going to struggle through the rest of this season, do I really want them to get to the post-season where their struggling DOES affect me more deeply? I love it when my team is in the playoffs but the pain of them losing in those games is ridiculous. This isn’t to say that I don’t want them to be playing in October, of course I do – the idea of them sitting out of the playoffs and our having to watch the Yankees and the Rays in there makes me want to kick something – but I feel like being realistic has its place here.
On September 10th I am in no way throwing in the towel. Right now I still believe this team can bounce back and win. Hell, I still have visions of them overtaking the Yankees and getting the division. But if I’m watching a team on September 20th still playing like they are today, well then I’m not going to be too upset if they don’t make it to the post-season.
Today’s a new day. We get to see what Kyle Weiland has tonight and Jon Lester wraps things up tomorrow. Still plenty of time to kick back into gear and head into the playoffs on a tremendously high note.