First, some things I forgot to write about in the previous post:
- Johnny Damon's strikeout / beaning was probably the weirdest thing I've ever seen on a baseball diamond. Especially in person. Of course, it's not weird for someone to strike out, or get hit by a pitch. Both at the same time is a little weirder, but conceivable. The true strangeness of the incident was in the way it happened. There was a pitch. There was a swing. The catcher dropped the ball. And then everyone stood motionless for what seemed like thirty full seconds, save for Damon, who turned on his heel, threw down his bat, hucked his helmet to the ground, and stormed down the dugout steps. It was like a scene in a play or television show where all the other characters on stage go motionless and one spotlit character moves among them. For about five full seconds, I had no clue whatsoever what was going on. At all. I had come unmoored from reality. I really thought he'd broken his bat, and that's why he threw it down.
- You want an idea of how much of a religion the Red Sox are in Boston? Witness the bums in Kenmore Square last night after the game. One wore a R. KELLY BANGED SHEFFIELD'S WIFE shirt. Another, huddled in a corner rattling a Dunkin' Donuts cup full of coins, asked not "Spare change?" but "How'd the Yankees do? Anyone know?" Not even kidding.
So. Among other notables today:
- Surviving Grady has a nice write-up on, apparently, "one of the greatest and most surreal press conferences ever held at Fenway," the one pertaining to David Wells' upheld suspension and his protestation thereof. If the following quote from the article they link is representative, it truly was a classic: "Despite the apparent anger, sometimes salty language and occasional trouble with the facts -- he said Watson had left baseball's employ -- Wells said he was holding back his true feelings."
- Also, Mark Bellhorn to the Yankees. Lots of people are making a big deal of this, and while it's sad to see a fan fave (at least in some circles) go to the Enemy--you have to wonder wtf the Yankees think they're doing. Are they buying everybody and just throwing them on the field to see if they'll contribute? The Yankees picking up the Sox' castoffs? O, how the mighty have fallen.
- Meanwhile, Soxaholix serves up a multifaceted dose of depression today, worst among them the revelation that Great White Hope Craig Hansen "is being shut down with a fatigued arm".
Nothing but bad news, it looks like--even, if the view out my window is any indication, for getting a game in tonight.
So how to look at this? That was the subject of my debate with Denton on Sunday, a conversation that often grew passionate (although, I would say, not necessarily heated or angry--but Denton asked if I wanted to kill him afterwards, so maybe he had a different impression).
On the one hand, I get frustrated very easily with people acting like they want to line up on the Tobin Bridge right now because the Sox are probably not going to win the WS this year. It's my personal feeling that if the Sox even make the playoffs this year, they'll have done something no team in Red Sox history has ever done--reached the postseason three times in a row. That, coming on the heels of the first championship in 86 years, to me, is a positive thing.
I also continue to have high hopes for the farm system despite the latest revelation about Hansen. Personally, I'm happy that Theo decided not to trade prospects for less than they're worth; I'm glad that the team is developing prospects and trying to keep a supply of homegrown talent in the pipeline. In fact, if not letting go of the prospects means not going quite as deep in the postseason this year, I'm prepared to accept it. To be honest, after 2004, I'd be prepared to accept even more than one year of "rebuilding", if necessary. Better to do that than wind up like the Yankees, crushed beneath the weight of their own payroll after seeking instant gratification all these years.
Maybe, I told Denton, my outlook on this year is more laissez-faire because of my only prior experience with a champion: the Patriots.
Every time something frustrating, especially something frustrating and injury-related, happens to the Sox this year, I think of the 2002 Patriots. Tom Brady played a woeful season with a third-degree sparation of his shoulder. They lost games that it was simply inconceivable for them to lose. I mean, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad games. Games in which our Golden Boy Tommy threw interceptions and was sacked repeatedly and fed a howling maelstrom of rumors that he was a one-hit wonder and a sham and a terrible player. Even more excruciatingly, after mounting an epic comeback against Miami in the final regular-season game, they missed the playoffs by a nose hair when Green Bay lost to the Jets.
In fairness, what I remember about that season is that I threw things. And yelled. And broke stuff. And swore. And screamed at Tommy through the television. And loudly expressed my doubts about the existence of God. I was a line of one in silver and blue on the Tobin that winter. But maybe, this second time around, my expectations were different than my fellow Sox fan going into the 2005 baseball season. Maybe, in fact, my expectations were pretty much zero after what I'd seen with the Pats, both in their "sophomore slump" and, more importantly, after it. My inner scenario for this year has always been, Train Wreck, and then We Move On.
But, given that this town belongs to the Sox and always will, I don't think everyone else quite shares my emotional attachment to the Patriots. I don't think most other Boston fans would find the Patriots' championship anywhere near in the same universe with the Sox World Series, because most other Boston fans are Red Sox fans first, and everything else (including their families and jobs, and of course, other sports teams) registers second, if at all. So many of my fellow Sox fans don't share my perspective. Hence our disconnect through most of this season--and my general sense that I'm in the minority here.
Where I've gotten defensive, I think, is when there is an implication, veiled or not, that because I am not expecting the Sox to repeat, or win the pennant, or do anything, really, because of what I know from experience about the Sophomore Slump, and because I am hopeful about Theo's plan for the farm system and stocking the roster and have confidence in his trades, that I'm being perceived as either naive or not truly part of the culture. That hurts me quite a bit.
Maybe I'm not? I mean, I see baseball, and the Red Sox, first and foremost as a cultural event. I see it as a ritualistic activity I do to be part of my family, and my group of friends, and the city and the region that I love so dearly. Second, I see them as a daily, sensory, metaphorical experience. A distant third aspect of the reason I watch the Sox is to see them win.
This is the part that's hard for me to explain--it's not that I don't want them to win. It's not that I don't care if they win. But if they don't, there will still be shocks of long hair flying around and that emerald Fenway I've been spending so much time in this year and towering home runs and Manny's double guns and laughing with the Surviving Grady people at a bar and Billy Mueller's butt. In loss, too, there are the metaphors I look for--further chapters of the "morality play" that is baseball to me, sometimes even more so. For me, the score, the standings, are not unimportant--but they do not make or break my overall feeling about the Sox. Sometimes, to me, wins even feel like losses and losses can feel like wins when the tone of the game contrasts with the score.
Maybe that makes me the odd girl out. Maybe that makes me not truly a Red Sox fan. Maybe if I'm not joining the line at the Tobin or clutching my pearls about Bellhorn going to the Yankees or calling for the head of Tito, Theo or both because of the way this season is turning out means I lack the "passion" so well-documented in Red Sox fans.
I like to think, though, that I have passion, and plenty of it. Just maybe of a different kind.