I suppose I could sit here and tell you that the Red Sox, according to Fangraphs, still have a 16 percent chance of making the postseason and a 1.4 percent chance of winning the World Series. I could sit here and tell you the schedule gets easier with a week full of games against teams (currently) behind Boston in the standings and then have a series against Baltimore shortly after that. I could point out all of the other Wildcard contenders have clear flaws of their own. I could gather everyone around and go on about the very real talent on this Red Sox roster and how it can show up suddenly at any point. I could talk about all of the wild comebacks in sports history, on which the Red Sox have been on both sides. I could simply remind you of the lesson we were taught by Kevin Garnett.
I’m not going to do that. (I suppose I just did, but you know what I mean.) I’m not going to do that, not because it’s not true — it might be or it might not be, that’s not the point — but rather because nobody wants to hear that right now. Sometimes, when you’re having a tough time people try to help you by telling you all the ways it’s going to be okay. That’s very nice, but it’s not always what you want to hear. Sometimes, you just need someone to sit down next to you and let you know, yup, this sucks!
This past weekend, and the last week as a whole going back to last Sunday night’s game where the Red Sox failed to sweep the Yankees, has a distinct feeling. It feels like the end of something. Now, I’m not going as far as to say it feels like the end of a window or some sort of era in Red Sox history. It’s nothing that dramatic. It just feels like the end of the road for the 2019 Red Sox. There’s an argument to be made that I’m just overreacting in the aftermath of a draining week of baseball watching. It’s possible! I also can say that, even after a night of sleep I feel the same way.
So, with all of that being said....what happens now? The season doesn’t just end and we don’t just stop watching. (Or, at least some of us don’t.) This is a somewhat unfamiliar fan for Red Sox fans in recent years, who haven’t really had this kind of feeling in nearly a decade. In every season since 2011 they have finished either in first or last place in the division. In other words, they’ve either never had this moment because they finished on top or because the season was basically over right as it got started. This is obviously not like 2011, but this is the first time in a long time we have gotten some hope and then had it taken away in the middle of the season. I do not recommend this feeling.
As far as how we’re supposed to react, well, there’s obviously no right or wrong answer. Basically the only wrong answer is getting mad at other people for where they go from here.
Anger is a justified reaction. Anger that the players are not playing up to their capabilities. Anger that some of the flaws for this team were easily predictable and the front office did nothing to address them.
Sadness is a justified reaction. Sadness at the helpless feeling watching guys like Chris Sale and David Price pitch so far below their talent level. Sadness with the realization that the playoffs are probably going to happen without the Red Sox for the first time since 2015. Sadness that the Red Sox aren’t going to win a championship this year and having to come to that realization in early August.
Apathy is a justified reaction. The Red Sox won the World Series last year in historic fashion, and some people just can’t be mad after that. Not to mention that, you know, baseball is far down on the list of important things in this world.
As for me? Well, I can pretty much guarantee how it’s going to go for ol’ Matty C. I’m going to get my hopes up at least one more time this year. The Red Sox are probably going to go out there at some point soon and win, like, five of seven or something along those lines. They’ll get to about 3.5 games and I’ll talk myself into them making another run. But something’s changed since this weekend and there will still be a part of me that knows it’s false hope. Even so, I’ll still be watching and I’ll still enjoy a lot of it. I’ll enjoy the continued growth from Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts. I’ll enjoy when Chris Sale can still snap off a slider here and there. I’ll enjoy Mookie Betts being Mookie Betts. I’ll enjoy Jackie Bradley Jr. being superman in the outfield.
Ultimately, I’m not even sure where I’m heading with this. Sometimes you wake up with incoherent thoughts rumblin’ around the ol’ noggin and you gotta get them down on virtual paper. So, I’ll end it with this: It’s a shitty feeling watching this Red Sox team fold right now and there’s no right way to react. It’s probably over, and it sure as hell feels like it’s over.
That said.....did I mention Fangraphs gives them a 16 percent chance of making the playoffs?