The sport page headline in the Boston Herald this morning: “The Choke’s on Us.”
Herald columnist John Tomase captured the full agony of Boston fans in his third graph: “The Red Sox were euthanized by the Orioles last night when $142 million man Carl Crawford failed to catch a sinking liner in the ninth, allowing the O’s to walk off with a 4-3 victory.” Ouch.
The generally more staid Boston Globe wasn’t. The headline there: “Shameful Red Sox Made Unwanted History.” Recalling disasters of the past, the paper noted that the ghost of Bucky Dent is alive and well.
With the closer to home Mariners out of anything – except meaningless games – by the All Star break, I took some pleasure in anticipating the Sox in the post season. When I watched them drop two of three to the hapless M’s in mid-August, I should have known the jig was up. The meltdown in Beantown will go down in the record books as the greatest fall from baseball grace ever in September. For me it began at Safeco on Friday night in summer. These guys wore the season-long collar of doom; we just didn’t know it until last night.
Funny thing about sports – and politics – once the cloud of doom settles over a team (or candidate) there is virtually nothing – nothing – a manager can do to let the sunshine in. All through September, Red Sox skipper, Tony Francona, looked like a guy preparing to lose. He had the brave but worried look of Jimmy Carter’s campaign in 1980 or George H.W. Bush in ’92. He seemed to know he was going to lose the whole campaign, but was hoping for an October (or late September) surprise. Not gonna happen.
Still, what an amazing night of baseball. Three key games all in progress simultaneously. The channel changer needs a new battery this morning. Mike Lopresti kept a timeline for USA Today. He recorded the end at 12:07 am Eastern when the Red Sox shuffled off to a “winter of discontent.”
The late, great Commissioner and historian of the great game, A. Bartlett Giamatti, a Red Sox fan, said it better than anyone: “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”
There will be playoffs now and a World Series. I’ll watch it all with the full knowledge that winter has arrived early.