I have a strange hobby. Well, I guess it isn't technically a hobby, but it is something I do every single day. When I get in my car to start my morning I always turn the radio to 98.5 The Sports Hub, where there is none stop chatter about the Celtics, Bruins, Patriots, and Red Sox. There are certain guys I really enjoy listening to on there, who do a great job of breaking down games and give excellent insight into the upcoming schedule. There are also certain guys that I can't stand to listen to. These are the guys that find something negative to say about every game no matter the sport. If the Patriots win 45-0 they will find a way to make it seem like they are the worst team in the league. If the Red Sox go 22 and 6 for the month of June they will make a case for how disappointing it was because they should never have blown two of those games. My problem is, although I disagree with mostly everything they say and would love to beat the crap out of them, I can't turn it off.
Lucky for me, I've arrived home right at the perfect time. The Boston Red Sox are in the playoff hunt and over the last few weeks they have seen their lead in the Wild Card race dwindle to only two games. Every single day I drive to workout I get to hear all the reasons why the team is full of "bums", "losers", "stiffs", and "soft players", and how they should all empty their lockers, pack up their stuff, and choose a new profession. Obviously, if you don't come in first place by thirty games or clinch a playoff spot by August, it's time to back up the truck and turn Fenway "Pahk" into an actual parking lot, right?
Before I go on, let me say that I think Boston fans are some of the best in the world. Their level of passion and knowledge for their teams is matched by few cities around the country. But I also think people around here often times overreact to a lot of silly things, and I think right now is one of those times. All I've heard lately, whether I'm walking around the gym, eating at some wicked good restaurant, or stuck in traffic, is people talking about how shitty the Sox are. Let's take a few minutes today and talk about why everyone seems to be going crazy in Beantown.
One thing I've learned after playing baseball for the last twenty years of my life is that in baseball, anything can happen. You can be the friggin' man one week and the goat the next. It's a game of ebbs and flows. As a player you don't judge yourself on one game or even one week, but instead learn to look at your performance over the long haul. If I were to go crazy every time I went 0 for 4 in a game, or each time I struck out, I would drive myself insane and be locked in a padded cell before I came anywhere close to the all-star break. You learn to put your last game, whether good or bad, in the rearview mirror as quick as possible, because there will be another game in less than twenty four hours. That's the way the season is played as a professional. 162 games, almost every night, for six months.
Now that the Sox are in the playoff hunt fans take a microscope to every little thing that happens in a game. Ortiz strikes out to end the first, people think the game is over. Gonzalez hits into a double play in the 3rd, "forget about it, this one's over!" The game of baseball is not going to change just because its now the playoff race. Hitters will continue to hit into double plays during a playoff run, they will still strikeout with men in scoring position, and they will occasionally chase a curveball in the dirt. Pitchers will still let up home runs, throw wild pitches, and sometimes they won't make it out of the fourth. I can't believe how many people I've heard call into the radio and say "how can Crawford hit into a double play right there?!?! We're in a playoff race!!!"
The bottom line is, the game of baseball doesn't change just because it's September. Infielders will still make errors, hitters will pop out, and pitchers will walk guys. Don't worry, the Yankees, Rays, and everyone else's guys will still make the same mistakes they've made all season too. I'm sorry, but if you think you're team is going to magically play perfect baseball every single night now that you think these games mean more than the 140+ others, it isn't going to happen. That's just baseball.
I understand, the Sox have't played their best baseball the last few weeks, but that doesn't mean they will suck forever. Like I said earlier, it's a game of ebbs and flows. They didn't play well in April, played great in the middle of summer, haven't played well in September, and could very well play unbelievable for the rest of the year. Baseball has a weird way of evening things out.
Ok, now that I'm starting to get worked up, lets get into what really grinds my gears so I can hopefully start to sleep better at night! Over the past few weeks the Red Sox have been bitten by the injury bug, and now all you hear is, "these guys just don't care anymore! If he was a real ballplayer he'd go out there and play with two broken legs! It's September!!!" I can't understand why when a key player gets hurt late in the year he is now considered "soft" or a "pansy". Suddenly he doesn't care to win. He's a baby. He only cares about the money. It's ridiculous. Believe me, these guys do everything they can to be healthy enough to get out on the field every single day, especially when there is a playoff race. Do you think guys play every single day for six months through all types of ailments to just pack it in when a possible World Series trophy is within reach? Sometimes no matter what you do you can't get out there and play. Injuries are a part of the game, no matter the month.
And there's my rant. I'm sure most people will still say I'm full of shit and the Red Sox are still a bunch of choke artists and overpaid babies. Oh well, I tried.