Since my formative years, all I have really known and genuinely cared about was what I affectionately call my Holy Triumvirate: the Boston Red Sox, Washington Redskins and San Antonio Spurs. They've been one of the few constants in my life. They've been with me through my greatest moments and my tumultuous moments.
Rain or shine I can count on Dustin Pedroia busting his butt every April, Tim Duncan being his usual ho-hum self every November and the Redskins offering me a small glimmer of hope after an impressive start before they inevitably implode in a drastic fashion.
Every year, I can count on them. I guess they give me some semblance of continuity, some tangible sense that life isn't so erratic, while real life gives me a sense of discontinuity.
The exorbitant amount of time I spend arguing on behalf of my teams, fantasizing about potential prospects or lamenting players with awful contracts (John Lackey and Richard Jefferson ... I'm so disappointed in both of you) may seem like an utter waste of valuable time to most people. And it might be. I don't know.
Admittedly, I spend a little too much time focused on sports and my relationship with my teams, which seem very personal and intimate. Time that would probably better spent allocated to, you know, actual people. These teams, my teams, are forever ingrained in the deep recesses of my psyche and will always be a part of me.
I guess something is wrong with my communication skills and sports are essentially my way of avoiding contact with the real world. Or maybe I'm just incredibly passionate. I'm leaning towards the latter explanation. I wish I knew. I just don't know.
So, when my beloved Sox completed the most indefensible, inconceivable collapse in baseball's regular season (I didn't forget you 2004 New York Yankees!), I felt awful. Between three hour naps after school and passionate obscenities geared towards Carl Crawford's incompetence, I tried to maintain a healthy, normal lifestyle.
Naturally, as the obsessive die-hard fan that I am, I couldn't.
The sheer finality of their collapse, the fact that by the ninth inning everything felt right in the world, everything (I even remembered to take out the trash that day) and then in a mere ten minutes, the Sox were done. Done. Their season was finite; they had no more potential to live up to our immense standards. I had no explanation. The Sox collapse, while not unprecedented, will leave an indelible mark on baseball because of the size of the market and our seemingly impenetrable lineup of hitters. This happens, maybe, once-in-a-million times. Unbelievable. I really, really hate myself right now.
After Evan Longoria's fateful walk-off home run, the Sox completed the collapse by losing their most successful manager in franchise history, Terry Francona, and their best general manager of all-time, Theo Epstein, in a span of two weeks while reports leaked out that Josh Beckett and Lackey enjoyed fried chicken and beer in the clubhouse. While the Sox were collapsing before our very eyes. Since I've already been extremely masochistic so far, I'll just add that I was bombarded with many people making fun of what once was a proud franchise. For every insult, I had the urge to start a prolonged confrontation.
I wanted to, but I held back (not because I'm a sane person but because I'm just really short and unassuming that I wouldn't survive any confrontation longer than five seconds).
I also find it incredibly ironic that of all (non-2004) previous Red Sox incarnations; I loved the 2011 version.There was always something to keep my entertained. Beckett's fiery attitude, Jacoby Ellsbury's exhilarating speed, Adrian Gonzalez's unreal stroke, David Ortiz's childlike exuberance, Pedroia's unbridled passion, Marco Scutaro's calming monotony, Tito's level head and of course Jonathan Papelbon's steely presence in the ninth inning.
Every game was an absolute joy to watch. I was compelled every night, and I anticipated every pitch with an intensity I've never knew I was capable of. Ultimately, I enjoyed obsessing about this team over just about any team ever.
Which, of course, nearly brings me to tears whenever I picture Crawford whiffing on Robert Andino's bloop single. With every fiber in my body, I wanted the Sox to win the World Series. I imagine, in an alternate universe, what would've happened if we hadn't signed Crawford to that fateful 7-year/$142 million contract. I imagine this universe being a surreal place that includes many Red Sox pennants, unlimited sports channels and peanut butter.
Maybe I'm just weird, but wouldn't you love to live there?
Strange universes aside, the collapse affected me more than it should. I guess that's just part of the consequence into putting so much effort and dedication to something so miniscule in the grand scheme of things, something so undeserving of my unabashed loyalty. Yet, I still can't tell you why it matters so much to me. I just don't know.
It took me awhile to put everything into perspective. It is just a game. A damn important game, but still the same either way. The Sox collapse led me to the realization that I'd be nothing without sports. My deepest insecurities wouldn't be alleviated. I wouldn't have a healthy avenue to vent my emotions in a relatively sane manner (excluding Sox-Yankees, Redskins-Cowboys and Spurs-Lakers games).
I'd definitely be less occupied. I might even do my homework on time or occasionally pay attention in class without thinking to myself, "Wouldn't it be amazing if the Sox signed Zack Greinke next year?" I'd certainly be a more well rounded person. I wouldn't stick out of pop culture conversations like a sore thumb. Maybe I'd benefit without my obsession. Maybe I'd be half the person I am today. I don't know. I don't really know.
But, after finally letting go of the painful remnants of the 2011 season, I've realized I'm not going to change. I'm going to continue loving sports. Just like the Sox will return the favor by just being there for me at a whims notice. Muddy Chicken, Papi, Gonzo, Youk, Lester, Beckett, Bard; I love all of you. I wish I could put into words what you mean to me.
But, after all we've been through; do I really need an explanation?