Thursday, September 29, 2011

Being a Red Sox fan is WORTH the heartache

We didn't deserve to make it.  As angry, depressed, disappointed, and bitter as I am right now (and it's toned down a lot since last night), I can see that.  The Red Sox mailed it in this September, and last night's debacle was nothing more than a microcosm of the last month.

They say you don't win pennants in April.  That might be true, but if nothing else, this season has taught us that you sure as hell can LOSE them in April.  If we didn't get swept by Cleveland (Cleveland!) the second series of 2011, we squeak into the playoffs last night - whether we could have done a damn thing one we were in? That's another story.

However, some of the reactionary stuff I was seeing on Twitter and Facebook last night was appalling, and - in many cases - downright foolish:
Let's start off with a tweet where the poster misspelled the closer's name, exposed his own misogyny, and blamed a player with a serious injury. I'm sorry, bro, but I know you personally, and there is no goddamned way you were playing through injuries like Salty's and Youk's. Despite the fact that Lackey has thus far been a HUGE disappointment for the money, he DID manage to win 12 games, and the suggestion to sign Prince Fielder is hardly going to help out our pitching.

Let's move on:
Gold. "Sell the team." To whom, I wonder? Are you going to buy it?  And it's not really like the owners can carry much of the blame here. Sure, if they had denied the money to sign a really important and obvious missing piece, but we all know that John Henry and Co. essentially have an open-wallet policy with Theo.  Perhaps that's where the blame should go?  But, don't forget we were all lauding Theo just eight months ago, and Sports Illustrated literally JUST ran a story extolling the virtues of his managerial technique (you might have to subscribe to SI to see it - sorry).

So this brings me to the most popular sentiment of the night:
You have got to be joking. Luckily, there sees to be just as many people on the interwebz who are violently disagreeing, and defending Tito.  I'm sure this conversation is of no surprise to Francona, after all, the double-edged sword of being a manager is that if the team wins, they were really talented, but if they lose, it's the manager's fault.  Could Tito have done more to light a fire underneath his team? Maybe. We will never know what he was doing in the clubhouse.  It is worth remembering that every single Red Sox is a grown-ass man, and therefore responsible for his own performance - Tito can only enhance.

And, to wrap up the evening, here's a status update that literally made me feel sick to my stomach:
Yes, that happened on my newsfeed last night. And FIVE PEOPLE "Liked" it.  Listen, I get the frustration, the thoughts that the team just doesn't work, that maybe starting over would be better - that it couldn't be worse. But these men are people. Just like you and me. They have families and lives outside of baseball. I don't care how much of a superfan you are, wishing for a plane crash just makes you a spectacularly shitty human being.

If anything, I hope this ending, this season, leaves us wiser as fans.  You don't win seasons in the offseason.  The playoffs are a special event, not a perennial birthright.  Sometimes you're on the losing end of epic chokefests.  All of these things kind of suck, and for fans like me, who didn't live through much of the storied franchise heartache (1999 and 2003, but before that was before my time), this is a stark reminder that we as Red Sox fans have lived a charmed existence.

But for me, it's worth it. I have seen two World Series Championships come to my team in my lifetime, and I believe I'll live to see many more.  Last night was crushing, painful, tear-inducing, because baseball and the Red Sox are my life.  But the feeling I got when I saw them win it in Colorado in 2007 and St. Louis in 2004 outweighs that heartache by an indescribable amount.  Being a dedicated (some might say obsessive) fan can fucking HURT sometimes - but when it feels good, it feels SO GOOD, SO GOOD, SO GOOD!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cinco-Ocho Speaks Out

 “Cinco Ocho loves haters, he loves to drink the Haterade, man. That’s what Cinco Ocho fuels his engine with — Haterade.  Some people in this clubhouse need to be told how great they are to go out there and succeed.  I like to be told I can’t do something. Cinco Ocho needs to be told he stinks, and then he just takes the Haterade and fuels his engine. That’s how he works, man. That’s the God’s honest truth.”

Ladies and gentlemen, your closer.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tim Wakefield: 200 Game WINNER.

Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield finally got to the 200-win mark this evening during the Red Sox romp against the Blue Jays.  On his eighth try for history, Wake was less than spectacular, allowing five runs in six innings, and departing when the Sox had a narrow one-run lead.

The blew it open after that, absolutely going to town on the Jays' pen, and looking for all the world like they were unleashing the pent-up aggression from their frustrating losing streak.

I'm going to keep this post short: you all know how I feel about Wakey, and I won't bore you with an account of how every win counts at this point.  You know as well as I do, as well as the Sox do, that the Rays are coming for us, that objects in mirror are closer than they appear, and that the division is ours for the taking - and missing the playoffs isn't yet out of the question, either.

Hopefully this victory can galvanize the troops for the home stretch - every inning counts.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tough luck, Timmy

 [Cartoon from Boston Dirt Dogs - I'm unsure of the date.]

Tim Wakefield was yet again denied his 200th win - despite leaving the game with a comfortable 8-5 lead.  Once again, the bullpen just couldn't do it for the iron man knuckler.

Unsurprisingly, in public Wakefield downplayed the personal importance of a 200th career win with the Red Sox, instead emphasizing the team angle, that the important thing now is for the RED SOX to win games, and get to the postseason: “If it happens, it happens.  If it doesn’t, it doesn’t change what I’ve done. I’d like it to happen. But more importantly, I think, is for us to get into the postseason. … That’s our ultimate goal.”

He's correct, of course, that not reaching 200 wins wouldn't change what he's done for the Sox in his nineteen-year career (seventeen years in Boston).  The fans (including yours truly) will still love and respect him, and I think we can all agree that we'd rather see a Pennant and a World Series win than Wakey's 200th W.

That said, I would REALLY like to see Tim Wakefield reach this milestone.  Over the course of his career he's been a team player (with a few notable, passive-aggressive exceptions in the last couple of years), and a perennial contributor to charity endeavors of all kinds. The cool thing about a team like the Red Sox is that not only are the fans all pulling for Wake, the players are, too. Judging by Daniel Bard's reaction to blowing the lead last night, I think we can safely say that he might have been more upset that Wakey was.

Personally, I'm not giving up hope, yet. The season has a few more weeks to go - and even if Tim Wakefield gets moved to the bullpen for the duration of the postseason (not unlikely), he has a good sporting chance of reaching his milestone.