Baseball. Baseball in the fall. Games starting in the afternoon. It’s supposed to be played during the day, right? That’s how we played it growing up. That’s how our baseball heroes played it. It’s kind of how the season begins and ends. Afternoon games in the spring, when just listening to a game from a warm ballpark anywhere can be a release from a long winter’s icy grip here in the Northeast. Then in the autumn I remember rushing into the house to catch playoff games after school when I was a kid. It didn’t matter who was playing because it almost was never the Sox. It just seems about right to have a game on in the afternoon, any afternoon.
I have been watching some of the playoff games so far this fall, and I think the 8 teams in the playoffs seem about right. As much as I would love to cheer on the Red Sox for a couple more weeks, they were the team that just didn’t belong. I look at the shots on TV, and I see the passion, the intensity, the teams sacrificing for one another, and everybody in that dugout on the same page. Then I think about the Sox in September. I think about the runners getting thrown out, the runners trotting just hard enough to first base as to not be booed, the at bats that millionaires just gave away, the lack of intensity from 2/3 of the team any given game, and the fact that our pitchers just didn’t seem to care. Wow, what a difference from Boston’s play in September (especially) and the level of play I see in the 8 playoff teams. The Sox don’t belong with this group. Not this year.
Watch the games and see what you think. My guess is that here in the middle of Red Sox Nation that a lot of you might agree. When the baseball gods looked down on game 162 and they recalled the old Sesame Street bit of ‘which one of these doesn’t belong’ and it became clear, the Sox don’t belong. And maybe, just maybe the baseball gods gave the Sox all of Wednesday to punch their ticket and they couldn’t get out of their own way to do it. Pap gets two outs and, bang, the clock strikes midnight, 3 straight hits, game over. That left just enough time to flip the channel to watch Longoria’s laser, on the at bats’ sixth pitch, drive the final nail in the Sox coffin. I watched, I felt like it was coming, and when it did, it seemed about right.