Friday, May 15, 2009

The End of the Innocence

Games 34 & 35 – Red Sox

Angels 8, Red Sox 4
Angels 5, Red Sox 4 (12)
Record: 21-14

Willie Mays stumbled around in the Mets’ outfield for a season. Johnny Unitas hung on to take a beating in San Diego. Even the sainted Yaz didn’t have anything left at the end. When it’s over, the thunderbolts are usually the last to know, reminded as they are of just-yesterday’s glories when their body was willing, their bat quick, and the mere suggestion of their presence changed games.

Today’s melodramatic overwriting is brought to you by David Ortiz and his painfully sad 0-for-7, 3K, 12 LOB performance in yesterday’s eminently winnable loss. Papi left the bases loaded twice against the Halos, finally closing the book on the Sox’ chances in the top of the 12th with a whimper of a bases-full check-swing dribbler that was fielded by Angel catcher Jeff Mathis. It’s come to this: Papi needs a Wiffle Ball-style circle drawn around home plate.

The men that rise to the highest plateaus in sports are, by nature, proud, even arrogant in contemplation of their skills. For nearly 6 years, Papi’s self-confidence was warranted in spades, even as he balanced it with a winking mirth. And now, because of a still-suspect wrist, or the absence of Manny’s comforting specter behind him, or the inexorable demand of time, or (never above a whisper) something less savory, the big man seems to have run up against the reality we all face.

It is my great hope that I’m wrong, mind you, that Papi’s public scoffing isn’t masking the pain of a bewildered giant, that the dog days of summer spark a resurgence. That’s how 2008’s script played out, after all. And we’ve learned for 6 years here that Whitney’s certainly not the only idiot writing futilely about a kid’s game. But I really don’t think I am.

And that makes me sad.

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