The last four days for Red Sox fans have been an emotional tempest, a maelstrom of feelings ranging from optimistic to indignant to disgusted.
But, damn, it feels good to feel again.
The past two seasons it seemed any excitement about the Red Sox had waned by May and was completely stomped out by the All-Star Break. However, unless there’s full-scale floor-falls-out collapse in May and June, this will not be the case with the 2016 team.
[Update: After last night’s complete game against the Yankees, it’s starting to feel, and I say this with cautious optimism, that Steven Wright just might be the real deal—I can’t wait for the Stephen Wright bobble-head night—and Papi just might put this team on his back for a final encore. Too positive?]
Maybe it’s because this year’s team had winning record after April and fans are desperate to latch on to something. Maybe it’s because this year’s team strikes a nice balance of grit and finesse, youth and veterans, and they’re a genuinely likable team. Maybe it’s a little of both.
But I am feeling it again.
It really started on Thursday night when Clay Buchholz took the hill against an unexpectedly good White Sox team who currently possesses the most wins in the AL (second only in the Major Leagues to their cross-town rivals at Wrigley). Buchholz came into the game with atrocious numbers, 0-3 with an ERA well-above 6.00, and with Joe Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez about ready to come back from rehab stints in the minors, Buchholz was pitching with something to prove.
And aside from surrendering a first-inning bomb by Jose Abreu, Buchholz was spectacular. Admittedly, I expected Buchholz to fall apart, become mentally come unglued and fall into a fetal position on the mound in front of the 54 fans in attendance at U.S. Cellular Field. Instead, Buchholz settled in, threw seven nasty three-hit innings, and the Sox ended up taking the game, 5-2, and the series.
I was feeling good about the Sox going into a three-game series in The Bronx. Not only was I feeling something, but it was “good” feeling. I was having positive thoughts, which doesn’t occur often with me.
Then on Friday night umpire Ron Kulpa’s smug smirk made its way into my life.
Listen, the Red Sox deserve to lose a game where they had the bases loaded in the sixth and ninth innings, as well as two runners on in the eighth, and failed to push in a run in a tight game. But no team deserves to have a game decided because an umpire wanted to bust a player’s balls.
It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten that fired up over a baseball game, but Kulpa’s final strike call to ring up Ortiz—a pitch that looked to bounce off the plate—had me off the couch, firing f-bombs and a variety of unsavory terms at Kulpa. I was exasperated, pissed off, my sense of justice bent way out of whack.
Then there was the smirk. The smirk had me worked up into a tizzy by 1 p.m. the next afternoon for Game 2 of the series.
With a bone to pick and the $30 million “ace” David Price taking the ball, I wanted to see the injustice from the night before properly avenged.
David Price, however, had other ideas.
In yet another terrible outing for Price, he failed to complete five-innings, surrendering six earned-runs and bloating his ERA to a corpulent 6.75. But no worries, they’re having a David Price bobble-head night on Tuesday at Fenway and the first 15,000 fans get a free bobble-head of the $30-Million-Dollar Man, and his pup, Astro.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) May 4, 2016
Isn’t that fun?
After Saturday’s game, I felt disgusted. First, the Red Sox should be crushing this bad-Yankee line-up. Next, between Sandoval and Price, so far, the Red Sox have spent over $50 million (granted, not my money) for some really poor production.
If the Red Sox have a legitimate statistical ace, it’s Steven Wright, and he’s taking the mound tonight with his knuckleball and 1.67 ERA.
But still disgust is better than indifference, and at least it seems that fans are becoming invested in this team. In order to care, one must feel something first.
Then again, it’s still May.