So you didn’t make the playoffs. Big deal! Playoffs? Come on, it’s just another marketing ploy like Valentine’s Day or landing on the moon. But I understand, you wanted to be a part of it. You wanted Papelbon to get just one more out. You wanted the Yanks to hold that 7-0 lead in the 8th inning. You wanted Crawford to not bat .255 and to make that catch in the 9th. But I digress.
I’m here to help.
Step 1 – Therapy for the Senses, a Return to Innocence
” Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.” — St. Augustine
Step 2 – Remember the Good
“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Step 3 – Face It.
“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.” –Kenji Miyazawa
Now that you remember that goodness still exists in the Boston sports world, it’s time to face the facts. Here’s a good article by Chad Finn of Boston.com which highlights the undeniable truths about the collapse. Read it, even if it hurts. I’ll wait.
It reminds me of how I felt following the ’04 ALCS as a Yankees fan. We were one strike away. We were one stupid short right field fence away from Tony Clark’s double not skipping over the wall costing us the go-ahead run. I can’t believe we let that slip away. That was a nightmare scenario for a Yankees fan.
But looking back on it I now realize what kind of team we had that year. The heart of our lineup was made up of Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, and A-Rod before I began feeling bad for him. These were a bunch of hired guns who were good at mashing balls off the Monster when the momentum was in their favor, (Game 3,) but weren’t able to dig deep when it really mattered.
You know who started Game 7 for the Yankees? Kevin Brown. The guy who hurt his pitching hand punching a clubhouse wall following a bad outing– Our Lackey, if you will.
Sure that team had Yankees I will always stand by, like Bernie Williams, Hideki Matsui, Jeter, Posada and Rivera, but years later I’m able to recognize that this team simply didn’t deserve to win. Somewhere down the line you will come to terms with this fact about the 2011 Red Sox.
Step 4- Make Lemonade.
“Turn your wounds into wisdom.” — Oprah Winfrey
The collapse is gon’ lead to some changes next season, changes that are desperately needed.
1. Lackey = gone.
He needs to leave the city and do so quickly. As Chad Finn put it,
Not only is he coming off the worst season a Red Sox starting pitcher has ever submitted, but he’s a miserable, dim, finger-pointing, unaccountable wretch of a teammate, and those may be his good qualities. That the Red Sox were apparently considering acquiring lefthanded mediocrity Bruce Chen to pitch a one-game playoff if necessary tells you all you need to know about Lackey’s status with the team. Pack up the sneer and the sacks of unearned cash and just go away. “
You will not have to look at this guy in a Sox uniform ever again…
2. The need for pitching is now undeniable.
12, 14, 18, 18, 8, 7, 4. That is how many runs the Sox scored in their 7 wins in September. Aside from the 4-3 win against the Rays, if the Sox weren’t scoring, they weren’t winning. Potential free agent pitchers this Winter include CC Sabathia (wouldn’t count on the Yanks letting him get away,) CJ Wilson, Chris Carpenter, and Roy Oswalt. However, as Epstein may have learned this season, you really can’t count on somebody performing just because of their name. In addition, the Sox already be overextended with the contracts of Beckett, Gonzalez, and Crawford.
The answer should come from within, from the farm system. The Giants won it all last year behind the arms of Lincecum, Cain, and Bumgarner. Where would the Yankees be without Nova (16-4) this season? Even the Phillies enjoyed the fruits of their farm system with Vance Worley (12-3). The Sox enjoyed no such reinforcements from Pawtucket when one fresh arm in September really could have been the difference. The collapse may force Epstein to change his priorities, assuming he remains with the Sox.
Step 4 – Enjoy the Playoffs.
“The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.” –William Shakespeare
If you have skimmed this article and are arriving at Step 4 without truly immersing yourself in Steps 1-3, then you will probably laugh at this notion. You may have already tossed your television set out the window, torn your ears off, gouged your eyes out, and given your Rich Garces jersey to goodwill. However, the ability to watch the postseason unencumbered by your own fandom can be a blessed thing. Heck, just root for Verlander against the Yanks and get off on that. Either way, by truly enjoying the playoffs this year you would be proving to yourself that the Red Sox do not have a monopoly on your happiness.
You are stronger than you think.
Step 5 – Let Go.
“He who loves 50 people has 50 woes; he who loves no one has no woes.” –Buddha
Baseball is not everything. Baseball is far from everything. When you think about it, baseball is kind of silly. LOL.
Focus on yourself, but not only yourself. Also focus on others, stop being so egotistical. Give rice to people who need rice, take up tap dancing, or start an illegal grow operation. The possibilities in life are endless. Do not become a shell of a person because the Sox couldn’t get that desperately needed insurance run with 1st and 3rd and no outs in the 8th inning. There are just some things you can’t control. As Adrian Gonzalez put it, God simply did not want the Red Sox to make the playoffs.
Chin up, dear, sweet child of the Universe and the Almighty. Tomorrow is a new day. I think it prudent to leave you with these words:
“To see victory only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of excellence.” –Sun Tzu
p.s. I’m going to Game 1 of the ALDS at the Stadium tomorrow night. Suck it Sox fans.