Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wrapping Up the Sox

So, what happened to the Sox? Well a few things:

1) They lost to the better team.

2) In their last game of the season they lost the type of game they lost all season; a close game that came down to the Sox scoring late off of power bullpen arms. Didn't they lose three or four of these games to Tampa in September? Exactly. The loss is frustrating, but it was not like it came out of the blue. The offense, sans Manny just took on a different form and could not scrape together those late inning rallies against elite bullpens.

3) Realistically, the Sox played a lot longer this year than they had any right to. If the Angels don't botch that squeeze they probably don't even make the ALCS and if Tampa does not blow Game 5 then their season ends at Fenway in a rout. Sure this loss sucks, but the taste this season is going to leave in my mouth is a lot better than it would have been had they lost to Anaheim or Tampa in five.

4) Even though it stings now I still have to give the Sox immense credit for what they were able to do in the ALCS, playing without their starting third baseman and having their most important pitcher and hitter battling injuries. The team is tough OK. You can't take that away from them and in fact you should applaud them for that. They did not roll over and die.

5) One last thought on Game 7 and that is that there are certain things in sport that always catch up to you. In basketball it's missed free throws, in football it's turnovers, and in baseball it is runners left on base. In Game 7 the Sox left eight men on base and lost by two runs. Can't win that way.

6) One last thought overall...

I will be rooting for the Phillies with all my heart in the World Series because that town deserves a title more than any town I can think of with the exception of Cleveland. While I saw the Tampa Bay dugout jumping up and down with emotion in anticipation of the final outs I thought it was a nice moment. But when I see the fans not show up for games until the end of the ALCS I think, sorry Tampa Bay, you are a nice story, but you don't deserve a title because your fans did not put in the effort. The best thing about seeing your team win a title as a fan is that rooting for your team is a year round investment of personal resources. You monitor their offseason moves, anticipate their preseason/training camp/whatever, and then sweat through the regular season all in hopes of getting to the finish line and finishing on top. When that actually happens it is such a rewarding feeling it is almost embarassing. But when you hop on and only invest four to six weeks in a team - maybe even less - you are cheating. You're winning a marathon but only running the last six miles. You need to run the full 26.2 to deserve your spot in the winner's circle and because Philadelphia as a whole has more than put in their time, I really, really hope they win. I think Tampa is better but I want Philly to win. In that sense it makes the Sox loss all the easier because it's not like the Tigers and Cardinals or Astros and White Sox are playing in the World Series. A team I genuinely can pull for is playing and playing against a bandwagon hopping fan base that needs PA cues to cheer and I cannot support that. In short, go Philly. I really do like your enthusiasm Tampa, but titles are for fans more than anything and I just cannot live in a world where your POS fan base gets to celebrate winning the World Series.

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