The big fold

Dear Tito,

I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m not heartbroken. I’m not really all that disappointed. In fact, I can’t even say I’m mad. (I say this now. But maybe this is the denial talking.) Because, in truth Tito, we really didn’t deserve to make it to the ALCS. Or maybe even the ALDS.

We played without heart, without brass, without that little thing that makes a championship team a championship team. We began the 2009 postseason without it. It’s not something that got lost on the flight to Los Angeles last week. It didn’t fall out of one of the ball bags. It didn’t get traded, injured, or left at Logan. It was just never there.

So I can’t say I’m all that sad. Sure, I’m going to miss you and the way you ignore me all season. And I’ll admit. I thought we were on our way to Game 4. Maybe even a Game 5. There was a tiny shred of me that thought … maybe we do have one comeback left in us. But I guess that is what being a Red Sox fan is all about – remaining hopeful when everything’s gone to pot, and exhibiting sheer bewilderment when everything hasn’t.

Tito, I listened to the entire game yesterday. While doing laundry I caught myself murmuring to Clay Buchholz, willing his tiny shoulders to carry the load of Red Sox Nation one more day. Walking home from the grocery store I was that crazy person smiling to herself, throwing a tiny fist pump on the sidewalk – a passing celebration strangers around me couldn’t comprehend.

And then as I began chopping tomatoes in the kitchen I was suddenly flashed back to the dark days of old. I was yelling at my phone. Cursing at Pap. Wondering what would have happened if it was Tek behind the plate. And frightening my new roommates as I hollered at no one in particular.

Afterward, I sat alone and dejected in the living room staring into the gray sky above Golden Gate Park. I didn’t say anything for awhile. Eventually I made my way into the kitchen, rummaged around in the cabinets and gnawed on anything chocolate I could find. I opened the freezer and sucked on a spoonful of ice cream and continued staring into the nothing. My roommate emerged from her room and asked if I was going to be OK.

And Tito, the answer is yes. I found myself telling her it’s good for the kiddies. They need to learn that you don’t win a championship every year. That you don’t always deserve to. They need to learn that suffering is what being a Red Sox fan is about. You need to be able to watch your team fold in storybook fashion, hang your head in shame, gather the pieces of you that remain, dust off your cap and be willing to ante up again.

See you in April Tito.


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