There was a ten minute window on Sunday where it felt like the entire sporting world was crashing down upon me.
Jonathan Papelbon gave up a two run lead with two outs in the ninth, and a few minutes later Roscoe Parrish decides to avoid overtime at The Ralph and muffs a punt. Three outs later, the Red Sox were done playing postseason baseball, and the Bills were 1-4.
Now the Bills had their own special set of emotions, ranging from uncontrollable rage to uncontrollable laughter, and those have translated into quite a few posts over the last few hours. However, the Red Sox ending their season played to a distinctly different part of my brain. In fact, I went through the necessary stages of acceptance much faster than I anticipated.
I think a big reason for this is because I knew better this time around. This is the first time in my tenure as a Sox fan that I’ve been able to watch more than 30-40 games due to television restrictions, and an obvious result of that is a much better understanding of the team itself. In fact, watching well over 120 Sox games may have given me something I didn’t really want: the knowledge that this team just didn’t “have it.”
It’s a goofy thing to say and perhaps a bit defeatist, but it’s true. I’ve talked to a few other Sox fans who have taken in most of the season themselves and they said the same thing: the pitching just isn’t there, the hitting is too spotty, and the Angels and Yankees are better this time around. It wasn’t going to happen, the magic wasn’t going to be there once the days got shorter.
Now my extended awareness doesn’t mean I’m a better fan than I used to be, nor does it mean that I never really paid attention before. Rather this awareness is a direct result of the $110 bucks I plopped down at the start of the season, which put the Sox at my doorstep almost every day this summer.
There are baseball scribes that long for the days of scouring box scores in the morning paper, and I appreciate their perspective. Trust me, I’ve been right there with them for a long time. Now there is plenty to learn through the numbers the local daily gives you, but seeing it for yourself makes all the difference. Watching Papelbon labor to get a save, seeing the lineup swoon for entire weekends; that’s what told me of things to come this October.
And so it’s weird to say this, but in a way I’m sort of okay with what happened yesterday. There is the usual feeling in me of another long season wasted, yet at the same time there is a twinge of excitement over the fact that, for the first time, I was able to witness the entire thing. The awful losses and big wins, the slumps and winning streaks, and even a bit of fun down on the farm. I got to see the Royals (Greinke) and Blue Jays (Halladay) and not just the games on ESPN or YES; not to mention any Lincecum start I wanted.
I guess what I’m saying is that it was certainly $110 well spent, and I look forward to doing it again next year. I’ll be watching the rest of the month and other sports will take up the winter, but a small part of me will always be holding out for next spring.