I have to admit that I am struggling right now. I am struggling to find anything out there worth writing about outside the incredible collapses suffered by the Atlanta Braves, the Boston Red Sox, and all of their fans and players. And I do mean suffered.
No one who cares about the game and follows their team with the loyalties of those two fan bases goes through something like that without adequately summing up the experience with the word “suffer”.
And that is who is hurt the most in the affair. The players will still collect their massive paychecks and most will immediately head to their second homes and golf excursions. Meanwhile, the fans, the ones who invest so much heart and passion are left in shock, wondering what went wrong.
Personally, I used to blame things like this on mojo, that unspecific spirit that encompasses a sports team and its fans like a parachute, kept afloat by the hope and good vibes. But if the winds of change start to blow, and fans add to the misery by casting doubt and fear into the mix, then the season can be quickly blown off course. In the past, it would have been easy enough for me to pile a season like this on the bad mojo that fell on the Red Sox right out of the gate, creating a weak foundation with which to build a season upon.
But not this year.
Hell, as much as I want to, I can’t even pin this one on the Yankees.
In truth, neither the Braves nor the Red Sox had the pieces in place to be serious contenders even if they managed to squirm their ways into the playoffs. Both had holes that became even more evident once the games started to matter more and more. Lack of pitching depth, timely hitting, and above all clubhouse leadership shone like a beacon in the night and we all knew what was going to happen as if we had skipped to the last page of the story.
In the end, both teams got what they ultimately deserved to get and ultimately what Major League Baseball needed to befall them. Both would have been easy pickings in the playoffs, robbing the game and its fans of the experience of a worthwhile post season. Nobody wants to see a team that limps through the final month of the season taking away a slot from a team that well deserved the honor for persevering when the situation called for them to step up and perform.
So as fans, we move on. We have the luxury of other sports to take our minds away from those struggles and help bring us back down from the ledge before the next season starts. We have the ability to play virtual General Manager throughout the offseason and rebuild that excitement with the move the team makes to correct the mistakes of the past. But mostly, we have the ability to decide not to dwell on the failures of what is ultimately just a form of entertainment that has run its season’s course and will return again in the spring.
And when all else fails to appease us, we have the ability to fall back on that one redeeming adage:
There’s always next season.