I woke up up Thursday to the news that Edward Mujica had given up a three-run homer to finish Wednesday night's delayed game in Cleveland. I hadn't fallen asleep early -- I'm (still) in Italy, and Asdrubal Cabrera's bomb coincided more or less exactly with my alarm clock and the rumble of traffic over the Arno.
For all the hand-wringing over Mujica's poor season -- of which there has been a considerable amount -- it should be noted that losing in the bottom of the 12th inning is what we should probably expect if we're tied heading into the bottom of the 12th inning, when we are putting our last options into the game. The bigger problem, obviously, is that almost to a player, Sox production is below what it was last year, which is how the defending World Series champs end up in the bottom of the 12th in the first place.
All of it is frustrating, but at the same time, it's disappointing to see fans turn on players like Clay Buchholz so viciously, as if right now is the only moment that matters, period, end of story. Yes, sports are about currency: it doesn't matter what happened yesterday, so a crappy Buchholz can't skid by on his reputation while continually getting pummeled, day after day. But insofar as baseball is a team sport, and an organization not materially different than any order professional organization, they're also about professionalism, and the ability to wait our periods of subpar results.
Was the Mujica signing bad? I don't know. It has certainly turned out bad, but the Sox succeed by taking calculated risks, and when they don't work out, it's perhaps over-the-top to lose one's mind when they do so only at the ass-end-of-a-40 of a ballgame in Cleveland. It produced a sweep, sure, but if we're about currency, and what happened today (and it happened today, on both sides of the Atlantic), has little bearing on what happened yesterday, at least to a degree that we can probably accept.
The upshot is this: If you're staying up past 12:30 to watch this stuff happen, it means you're a die-hard fan, and you likely internalize the results: Edward Mujica let *you* down, and Clay Buchholz let *you* down. They did, in a way, but they're letting themselves down more than anything, and while that may be neither here nor there to the bleary-eyed, it seems fairly straightforward to the well-rested or plain disinterested. The season is one-third complete and the Sox are five games under .500, but their record matters on exactly one day in October. If they stink, they stink. If they don't, they don't. You can choose to give them a break after last year or you can insist on perfection, but in the end, a subpar Sox team is going to be much worse for them than it is for you.