One of the more amazing things about living back in Boston is the connection of baseball. The Red Sox may not be doing well this year, but man do they still connect people. I was in the North End a little while ago, and had multiple brief conversations with strangers about the Sox — what the score was, how (badly) we’re doing this season etc. In DC, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who cared about the Nationals. (And even if you did, that person would be the exception.)
And living in Boston means that I can regularly go to Fenway! I’ve been a handful of times this season, and it’s still such an experience. Each season, when I walk up the steps and see the fresh green grass for the first time, it makes me smile. The perfect summer evenings spent with beer, franks, and friends are amazing memories. Almost every game, the excitement and passion in the park is almost palpable.
One of my trips to Fenway was this past Labor Day weekend. It was a beautiful weekend for baseball. Unfortunately, the Red Sox did not play beautiful baseball; they lost Sunday in horrendous fashion, 7-5.
Throughout the game – and after – I was thinking about all the calamities this season:
- Injuries. (Youkilus would’ve had that throw.) More injuries. (Ellsbury would’ve had that blooper.) More injuries. (Pedroria would have been able to do something to jump start things!)
- Below-expectation big-name starting pitching. (Lackey is 12-9 with a 4.48 ERA. Beckett is 4-4 with a 5.91 ERA.)
- An awful bullpen. (The Boston bullpen has walked a run home four times in three games, from 9/5-9/7.)
Yet, I was also thinking that if Beckett and Lackey pitched to expectation, and Pedroia, Youk, Ellsbury, Cameron (remember him?) didn’t have season ending injuries, we’d be in the thick of it right now. We wouldn’t be runaway first place, but we would be in the Hunt for Red October. Sadly, that’s not the case.
The Sox now have an Elimination number of 14 from the Division and 17 from the Wild Card — including tonight’s (Wednesday’s) win. We’re 9 back in the Division and 6.5 back in the Wild Card. Time to start thinking about 2011. (Since it took me forever to understand elimination numbers, a quick explanation. Any combination of wins by the Yankees and losses by Red Sox totaling to 14 makes it impossible for the Red Sox to win the division title. Any combination of wins by the Rays and losses by the Sox that equals 17 makes it impossible for the Sox to win the Wild Card. FYI, there are 19 games left.)
But you know what? I’m okay with thinking about 2011. Yes, I would love for the Sox to be in the postseason. Yes, I would have loved for things about this season to be different. But can you hear that? It’s something new. It’s a type of quiet. No more talk of Curses. No more invoking 1918. No more talking about how close we were recently and how we still lost it.
Since 2004, we’ve had yet to go more than 3 consecutive years without seeing the Sox win a Ring. We’re like other baseball teams now — a beloved team trying its best to win games. So this year sucked. Oh well. I still love the connection the Sox bring, I’m still rooting for them, and enjoying the hell out of going to Fenway.
So even if 2010 is a bust, 2004 and 2007 are gifts that keep on giving. Us Sox fans can enjoy (or gripe about) the present and speculate on the future without needing to dwell on the past.
We’re free of those chains that used to hold us to 1918, 1967, 1975, 1978, 1986, and 2003.
That just might be win enough for me right there.