I remember Thursday, September 8, 2011 quite vividly. That was the night I expected smoke to come out of my remote control as I frantically changed channels from the NFL opener, the U.S. Open quarterfinals, and the Red Sox – Blue Jays game. It was a sports fans delight. I thought about how great it would be to have picture-in-picture-in-picture, and I wondered why picture-in-picture never really caught on. I wondered if there would ever be an opportunity to rise from the couch for a snack or a bathroom break, and I calculated the myriad of permutations for DVR’ing one or two of the events while pausing the live action on the third just so I could check the Internet for updated fantasy league stats. It was a horrible ecstasy! That Thursday three weeks ago was also the night, I began to wonder why baseball has always been my favorite sport. But after last night, I’ll never wonder again.
OMG – baseball is slow! That’s what I thought while Drew Brees and Aaron Rogers were lighting up the scoreboard, Roger Federer was rifling groundstrokes, and Andrew Miller was throwing 93 pitches in five innings. The contrast was striking. And this was a quick baseball game played in under three hours. But juxtaposed with high-scoring football and non-stop tennis, baseball appeared to be even slower than a Clint Eastwood movie. (Gran Torino, Hereafter anyone?) And the Red Sox still had a 6.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays, so it didn’t seem like the game had any tremendous meaning.
So, I questioned my love of baseball, a mistake I won’t make again. Baseball just gave us an amazing gift. In the span of a few hours, and then in a matter of three minutes, we saw an unprecedented comeback and an historical collapse. The “choke” and the “clutch” were so well synched, it would have made Karl Benz proud. Both games were remarkable reminders of what baseball has to offer. One out away. One strike away. A .108 hitter who didn’t have a hit since April 27th (Dan Johnson) hitting a pinch-hit, game tying home run in the ninth inning. Are you kidding me?! Frustrating to Red Sox fans, to be sure, but still, somewhere deep down inside, you gotta love that! Yes, I said “love”. Look for it. I’m sure it’s there, and I’m equally sure it will make you feel better.
For reasons I don’t understand, people like to rank their disappointment. Is this Red Sox collapse worse than 1978 or 2003? I don’t know. Were you sadder when your dog died or when your elderly aunt you hardly had any contact with died peacefully in her sleep after a long, happy life? Did it hurt more when you cut your finger dicing onions, or when you stepped on a piece of glass? Quantifying my unhappiness, or even my pleasures, is not an exercise I participate in. But if you’re one who does, I would argue this one should hurt less, because your sorrow has to be overwhelmed by your amazement. This was a truly remarkable event – and turn of events – that has to have earned your respect and appreciation – even admiration – thereby diminishing the sadness brought on by the results. Today is not about the woe. It’s about the WOW!