Caring is a double-edged sword.
Following the Red Sox for this last month has been a truly bizarre experience. Game after game of completely negligible consequence lure the mind to sleep. Baseball becomes autopilot. It's seven, the game goes on, events unfold, and precious little is felt along the way.
By itself, that would be plenty to throw anyone off. Baseball is a hobby of passion. Rooting for a team is something that comes with huge emotional investment. Their heights are your heights, their lows are your lows. But when reason screams out at you that there is so little to be gained and lost from the remaining decisions, it can be difficult to find that same fire.
Adding to the confusion are the bumps in the road. The series against the Rays where you know you're supposed to care if only for the hatred of the opposition, or against the Orioles where losing suddenly seems the better option, turning the usual baseball experience on its head. The problem is, when you're not in the pennant race for your own team, everything becomes so very nebulous. A New York loss is a New York loss, a Baltimore win a Baltimore win, but so long as October is two, three weeks away it's hard to really get too up or down about any given outcome.
That brings us to tonight. Three days away from the postseason, with the scenarios written clear. How do the Red Sox hurt the Yankees? They win one more than Baltimore loses. Simple as that.
Tonight Baltimore lost. Tonight the Red Sox lost. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitches Wednesday. Translation? Mission failed.
And of course, it took only two innings. And of course it was due to the one lone man in the rotation who had actually managed to cobble together a season that didn't belong in the John Lackey hall of the pathetically incompetent: Clay Buchholz. For all that he was the worst man ever to take the mound early on in the season, Buchholz had pulled it all back. He was on the verge of actually being the one good pitcher this rotation had to its name.
Now, after eight runs and five outs, his ERA is 4.56. Congratulations, Clay, you're average...in the steroid era.
Caring is a double-edged sword. Taking it out for tonight, given our realistic chances, was ill-advised, but that's not really a choice you make. Tonight it cut deep. That tomorrow it will be so dramatically weakened and Wednesday gone almost completely is amongst the most tragic of comforts.