NOTE FROM CYN: No way does the season end without my getting Tru to put his spin on it!
No one died. There are no arrangements to be made, and dark suits to have rush, dry cleaned. There are no cards to write, nor donations to make to a favorite charity, as a symbolic gesture of understanding and support. There’s none of that.
There are simple truths to a baseball season, and one of them centers on all we do not know. The things that we are not shown, are not privy to, or directly hear leaves us always standing a bit on the outside. All that we can accumulate is what we see on the field, or whatever the news clips and sound bites provide us. It’s not enough to weigh and come to judgment with. It never has been, nor ever will be. All we really have is a final score, and it is from that measurements are made.
If only they had done this, or did not do that.
The benefit of hindsight is such that even under best of circumstances, no one can ever say with any level of certainty how the events might have unfolded differently. For baseball addicts, it is a fun thing to contemplate. I recall a few years ago, a group was trying to determine what would have happened if Grady didn’t send Pedro out for the eighth. There were all kinds of assumptions and what if scenarios neatly arranged, and each explained in detail. Their summary was such that yes, had only other decisions and actions been taken, the outcome would have been different. From the stands that October evening, I knew that instantly, and did not need to see a scientific approach to that same conclusion.
But for all that second guessing, the harsh reality is that nothing was changed, nothing did change and the results will stand for all time. Then, like many others felt, it was a crushing end. It was all encompassing and kept me in a dark mood for days on end. It was personal, as if a sudden death of my best friend had occurred, but could have been avoided.
The season ending game in Florida last night was nothing like any of those past events, where other decisions, or what ifs enter the picture. A couple of weeks ago, the quote, “You go with what got you here”, still rings in the back of my mind. For all the topsy-turvy events from the outset of spring training to flying home in the early morning hours, knowing that there is no more baseball for them in 2008, they have nothing to feel bad about. I will not second guess, nor arm chair manage this past season.
The team had given me a great summer, and plenty of great baseball. They were all of one game shy of last season’s AL winning record. They did this, while fighting nagging injuries, controversy and themselves. The Red Sox don’t own the franchise on this, of course. But then again, they’re my focus, so it always seems a bit larger than life when they pull the trigger on a sure first ballot hall of fame player, letting him go, while paying the way. But delving into all of that leads me back to the arm chair, and indulging in things that I cannot change.
There is no real heart break this year. Sure, like a lot of others, I’m disappointed, but the way the team has been constructed and has been morphing, they’ve taken us to the door step of the World Series an awful lot of times over the past six seasons, sometimes getting in the door, sometimes not. There are at least twenty eight other teams that have fans who would love to have that kind of club to cheer for, but never get near the neighborhood, never mind up the front steps. I cannot be disappointed.
Over the weekend, while waiting for the games, I patronized the New Hampshire Film Festival in Portsmouth. The premiere of “Bill Spaceman Lee: high & outside” was shown on Saturday and again on Sunday. Lee was to attend on Sunday. The producer of the documentary, James F. Brown, explained Lee was in San Rafael, California caring for his father, who is not doing well. He did go on to say that Bill would be happy to learn the screening took place in a bar, where so many enthusiastic Red Sox fans were. He also explained that key people in Lee’s life had passed this year; his beloved aunt, Annabelle, and former coach at USC, Rod Dedeaux.
The correlation between Lee and the 2008 American League Championship takes me back to 1975, and the famous Eephus pitch that went high into the left field night at Fenway. It was one mistake made that many thought was the defining moment of that game. Some mistakes happen, and define a team and its players and their collective psyches. If I’m to borrow from the film, Lee comments that “if only we turned that double play”, he could have become president of the United States, and changed the world forever. It seems strangely weird that the decisions in 1975; to throw that pitch, and in 2003, to send him back out for the eighth are the supposed mistakes that connect in cosmic ways and came to pad the defining aura and mystique of this franchise.
Well, there was no double play, and Lee is not defined by that game, nor are the 2008 Red Sox defined in similar ways. There is nothing to mourn, no shame. There is, however, congratulations to offer another team, whose youth, boundless energy and determination were coupled with skills that were simply better. This is the stuff of another summer, and another reason to sustain the love of a game that provides endless entertainment, while provoking us to have hope and belief. It is juxtaposed with the sterility of facts and statistics, and close calls and subjective interpretations. It is the greatest game that has us all coming back, and giving us life for another year.
There is no obituary to write, because no one died.