Monday, September 01, 2003

Games 134-136 - Red Sox, or This Ledge is Getting Crowded

Red Sox 10, Yankees 5
Yankees 10, Red Sox 7
Yankees 8, Red Sox 4
Record: 78-58
AL East: 5.5 GB NYY
Wild Card: 1.5 GB Sea

I so desperately want to believe in this team, want to embrace the entire flawed, wonderful 25-man roster and hold on for the ride. But every time I feel like they've turned a corner, something bizarre and exasperating happens to throw me right back to my pathetic pins and needles Sox fan existence. The Sox had every reason to believe that they would win the first two games of this series, up 3-0 on the Yankees in the top of the 3rd with Pedro on the mound and dealing. Then, as if predestined, the roof caved in and the Sox ace started leaving curveballs up in the zone for Yankee batters to, well, batter. 6 outs later, the Yankees led 5-4, and even a rousing rally against Yankee closer Mariano Rivera came up short when the league's leading hitter, Bill Mueller, waved at a high strike 3 with the bases loaded.

I'm frustrated beyond words at this team. They lead the major leagues in every important offensive category. The pitching staff, while underperforming all year, now has as much talent from top to bottom as any staff in the American League, save perhaps the A's. The defense isn't great, but it's adequate. Why, then, does it seem that these Sox are lesser than the sum of their parts? Really a rhetorical question, because I don't have the first clue. Is it the manager? The pressure of playing in Boston, where every failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and every minor flaw becomes magnified by America's worst sporting press?

Anger, frustration, exasperation, and vitriol haven't worked for me thus far this season and in previous campaigns. I vow here and now to think positively about these Sox. They are good enough, deep enough, and committed enough to make the playoffs and go deep into them (and gosh-darnit, I really like them - in my best Stuart Smalley voice). It says here that they will do just that. I'll root without knee-jerk criticism, without emotional outbursts, caring deeply but not giving myself ulcers by internalizing each agonizing pitch. This will be a true test for me, familiar as I am with hanging on every moment of every game. I'm going to enjoy baseball, and enjoy the Red Sox, if it kills me.

Note: They're already testing me, having gone down, 4-0, to the Phillies in the 2nd inning. Deep breaths. Stay on target. Stay on target.

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