Now, and especially since 2007, I'm more apt to stew for a little bit, then go about my day and look forward to 7 PM. I watch every game, root like hell, keep the faith. I love having a game every evening. But the idea of spending a few hours examining the appropriateness of Terry Francona's bullpen decisions on Friday that led to Junichi Tazawa making his major league debut in the 14th inning seems somewhat pointless. And what can you really say about the team-wide batting slump? You can drive yourself nuts, but it won't do the team any good.
Some of that mindset is because of 2004. Prior to that, who knew when the Red Sox would win a World Series? Would it be another five years, 10, 40? When the team was a contender, every game was a crucial battle, because this loss right here could end up being the one game that kept us out of the playoffs. And so there was plenty of anxiety, frustration, rage, despair. It's exhausting to keep that up for six months. Waking up still fuming at the previous night's loss is not healthy. I know some fans still think that way, and if I asked them "Why?", they'd give the same answer I do when asked why I am less intense: I just am. (Unfortunately, my attitude also results in a duller blog.)
Now not only do I intuitively know that the previous night's loss is history, its result unchangeable, and tomorrow's game is far away, so all we can hope for -- and the only thing the team can do today -- is win today, but I can actually have it work in my brain.
It is the same attitude I was forced to take when things looked dark in 2004 and 2007 (and 2005 and 2008, for that matter). Take a deep breath and boil it down. No team can win three or four games (or make up 6.5 games in the standings) at once. It is a waste of time and energy to fret about winning on Tuesday when you play on Monday. So win Monday's game. That's all you can control.
Manny Ramirez had the right idea when, in October 2007, he famously said:
We're not going to give up. We're just going to go and play the game, like I've said, and move on. ... It's not like the end of the world or something. Why should we panic? ... It's going to happen. It's going to happen. We've got a lot of confidence in our teammates. They've been good all year round. ... We have to keep grinding it out and see what's going to happen. ... If we go play hard and the thing doesn't come like it's supposed to come, we'll move on. ... Why should we panic? We've got a great team.I posted this back on August 25, 2003:
Kevin Millar: "It baffles me that all the media and all the fans want to bash the Red Sox in August. There's a lot of baseball left. There are going to be negatives, but why not jump on this team's back and have fun with it and pull for this team and write good things about this team, because when this team is in the wild card or [wins] the division title, this is going to be a fun team to root for. ... I love this team and I love this city, but some of the things you see and read ... It's 2003. ... [The past] makes zero sense to me."On that day, the Red Sox trailed the Yankees by five games and were tied for the wild card.
Millar's comments in his MLB diary were perceived by the Boston sports media as a slam on the fans, but it was clearly an expression of befuddlement (and annoyance) at the media's harping on past Boston losses, some of them decades and decades old. Millar's right; it makes no sense.
This is too serious for a baseball post -- and I can't tell if it actually applies -- but there is a line in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest that pops into my head every so often: "... no single, individual moment is in and of itself unendurable."
Very late in the novel -- 650 pages after that line -- one of the main characters, a former addict and AA counselor, is in a hospital, drifting in and out of consciousness, unable to communicate and in pain but also terrified that he will be given possibly addictive pain medication against his will.
Any one second: he remembered: the thought of feeling like he'd be feeling this second for 60 more of these seconds -- he couldn't deal. He could not fucking deal. He had to build a wall around each second just to take it. No one single instant of it was unendurable. Here was a second right here: he endured it. What was undealable-with was the thought of all the instants all lined up and stretching ahead ...A central theme in all of Wallace's work is that seemingly trite, unhip, "polyesterishly banal" cliches -- One Day At A Time and Give It Away To Keep It -- are actually incredibly meaningful and damned hard to truly follow.
So: Keep Coming Back. Hang In There. We're All Here Because We're Not All There.
But if you do want to wallow in gloom (or, some would argue, the cold facts), you can see -- from Cool Standings projections -- the decline of the Red Sox's chances of winning the East during the weekend in New York:
Morning of 0804 0806 0807 0808 0809 0810Boston's chance of simply making the playoffs has dropped from 70% to 47% in less than a week.
Yankees 47% 52% 60% 67% 72% 78%
Red Sox 41% 35% 27% 23% 16% 13%
The Yankees are playing five games better than their Pythag while the Red Sox are dead on. The "expected" standings, based on runs scored and runs allowed, show the Yankees in first, with the Rays 1 GB and the Red Sox 1.5 GB.
The Red Sox have plenty of problems, no doubt about that, but that may be a truer indication of the closeness of these three teams.