The Baseball Desert

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

From Here You Can See The Sea

Perspective. Balance. Stability. Sanity. If you're looking for any of the above, click here.

I was disappointed that the Red Sox lost the series against the Yankees - and did so in singularly dire fashion - but it's in cases like these that the 4,000 miles that separate me from Boston are a help rather than a hindrance. I didn't get caught up in the hype prior to the series, which as Beth herself said, was unavoidable:
I swear, right now it feels like this entire region is just going to sink into the Atlantic ocean. The buzz in the air--everywhere--is palpable. It's so pervasive, this subconscious hiss of excitement and apprehension, that it feels like somewhere, Osama bin Laden is out right now getting some snacks for the cave tonight.
And, although getting swept in a five-game series at home by the Yankess felt like getting repeatedly smacked around the head with a very large shovel, I haven't been tempted to jump out of any high windows since Sunday night. I took last night off because I'm actually physically drained from those five games - notably Friday's killer doubleheader - but I'll be back tonight to see how the rest of the season begins to pan out.

Beth goes with wonderful lines from Auden to express how this season might feel:
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
She also references a Globe column by Bob Ryan, which says much the same thing, albeit more prosaically:
The truth is that in this perverted sports climate, the other team is never just allowed to be better, even for a day, let alone a series or a season. No, no. Blame must be affixed. Heads must be severed.

Once upon a time, losing brought a brief period of sorrow. Now it brings rage. The rest of the season, I fear, will not be much fun.

The truth is we need to sit down and figure out what sports are all about. We've lost our way.
This doesn't mean that it doesn't matter, because clearly, to tens of thousands of Red Sox fans across the world - including myself - it does, however much others may scoff. Roger Angell said it best:
It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look -- I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring -- caring deeply and passionately, really caring -- which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naiveté -- the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball -- seems a small price to pay for such a gift.
What it does mean is that mass hysteria is possibly not the most suitable response to a series sweep by the Yankees.

We are forever reminded that baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. If so, then the Sox have just tripped up and fallen flat on their face whilst narrowly tailing the race leader. They may have enough strength, energy and motivation left to regroup and make up the lost ground between now and the end of the race. Or they may not, and this season will go down as a relative disappointment. But, either way, it will be our duty - if not always our pleasure - to stick by them and see how it all turns out.

In the meantime, I really need to get my hands on that Mnookin book. I think it could soothe an aching baseball soul.