Like any fan worth his or her salt, I have a complicated relationship with baseball sometimes.
It’s an offshoot of caring and passion*, I believe. When things are going well (in this scenario, well within the confines of rooting for a certain Boston-based professional team), there’s a swell of positive juices within. Personally, my mood is up, my smile a little brighter and wider, perhaps even a skip in my step.
* For what it’s worth, screaming, wanting everyone traded, shouting idiotic things like “Carl Crawfahd is making too much money!” and acting like a dick at games and bars and living rooms across New England is not what should qualify a fan as “passionate.” It qualifies that fan as an irrational asshole. I say this because I’ve seen a lot of it this week. It’s nothing new, but it should still be noted. Passion means caring, not nonsensical screaming.
But as is the case many times this season, sometimes things aren’t going so well, and that skip in my step has been transferred to the ball, skipping out of gloves, over bats and into the stands out of a Boston pitcher’s hand.
The Red Sox lost this afternoon, 1-0 at the hands of the Cleveland Indians. Boston’s Jon Lester and Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona matched each other the entire game, each throwing seven scoreless innings. Daniel Bard came in to pitch for Lester in the eighth inning, and started by walking third baseman Adam Everett. Everett stole second base, was bunted over to third, and scored on the most exciting and infuriating of all plays, the suicide squeeze. Perfectly timed, he screamed down the baseline while Asdrubal Cabrera laid down a perfect bunt that passed him down to third base. Cleveland had the first run of the game.
Boston now has three outs to match it, or they’ll be looking at yet another loss on the young 2011 season. Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis are the first two outs of the inning. David Ortiz works Cleveland’s Chris Perez for a walk, and Darnell McDonald comes in to pinch run.
The key play, immediately immortalized in this gif, comes on the next pitch. J.D. Drew hits the first pitch Perez throws back up the middle, towards the mound. The ball ricochets off of Perez’ leg to Everett. Everett looks to first, sees he won’t get Drew, looks up, and notices that McDonald has overrun the base. McDonald trips trying to get back to second, dives into the base, and is tagged out by Orlando Cabrera. Game over.
Never mind that it looks like he might be safe — if anything typifies the Sox’ season so far, that play was it. Just when it looks like they’ll pull out a game and right the ship, the Baseball Gods conspire, the winds shift, the ball bounces, and the runner trips.
I don’t put a lot of stock in an 0-6 start dooming the Red Sox for the season — teams have overcome worse — but the feeling after this game was horrible. A win was snatched away, the team heads home for today’s game winless to start the season, and the crazies and sensationalists get to have a field day screaming nonsense for one more day.
It’s part of the up-and-down. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t feel so badly about losing a game on April 7. Because I care, I’ll be able to feel amazing when they win a game, or two, or 90. In the meantime, it’s all part of the emotional toll.
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In the spirit of caring, tomorrow is Opening Day at Fenway Park, and as part of the Rally Against Cancer, I’ve made a donation and will be wearing my Red Sox jersey to work. Whether or not you’re a Sox fan, I’d encourage you to make the $5 donation and help out a great cause.
And if you are a fan, give what you can give, and pull on that shirt or cap during the Yankees game. It’s okay, really. It’s all part of the cosmic dance.