Oh, Red Sox Nation…I’m feeling a strong end-of-season malaise. I’m just not able to get into the playoff spirit yet, after the season we’ve had. (And the series sweeps haven’t exactly made the playoffs unmissable yet, but I’m sure that will change.)
We don’t need reminding, do we, that the Red Sox went 3-7 in their last 10 games. They finished in last place (again!) and in the end, didn’t even fight the Yankees very hard for that ignominious distinction. The Sox defense and inexcusable errors had me up in arms all season long, and I noted with raised eyebrows that the Athletic [subscription required] called their defense “atrocious.” Which is something that my mom used to say to us kids – but only when she was absolutely, truly, fed-up beyond belief. Yes, it’s gotten that bad.
I’m not going to list all the things here about our rotten season. That would make me more sad. And there were good things about the 2023 season; of course there were! The emergence of Triston Casas as a force to be reckoned with (and my favorite player), the call-up of Ceddanne Rafaela and the gleeful speculation about what he might accomplish in the big leagues. Jarren Duran’s success came as a sweet surprise to me. Winning fairly consistently against the Yankees always feels good. We were 9-4 against them on the season, including a joyous victory on the morning we fired Chaim Bloom (another victory for the season).
But the good was overshadowed by the bad and the ugly this season. We could see it coming for a long time, even if the Sox did occasionally tease us that they might make a run.
My other favorite teams met with sad and frustrating ends to their playoff hopes too: the Giants, Cubs, and Mariners all legitimately seemed like they were in it…until they weren’t. Here in Seattle, folks are still somewhat bereft by the Mariners’ last-minute wild-card elimination. Jerry Dipoto’s recent comments about doing the Mariners fanbase a favor by aiming to win only 54% of the time reanimated the hurt all over again. Come on.
I felt such a sense of loss and despair that I’d actually begun composing an “obituary” for the 2023 Red Sox season… but then a real death on the very last day of the season made that a terrible idea because a true loss had occurred. A real wound opened up. Obviously this idea crumbled under the circumstances of Tim Wakefield’s sad, untimely, and shocking death. Many folks have written beautifully about what he meant to them, what he stood for, what he did on the field and in the Boston community. I can’t say it any better.
I am still deeply, genuinely sad about all of it. I suppose that, given time, I’ll find a way to get excited about the Orioles, or latch onto another team’s unbelievable postseason run or energy. Baseball will be fun again.
But it needs to be said that the 2023 Red Sox season leaves many loving fans and mourners behind.