Some Sox fans may read the title of this thread and think I should have stuck with the punny “mourning”. But that wouldn’t be appropriate. This season has ended abruptly, but for me in a very sanguine fashion. There is no great tragedy, no great surprise in the way the Sox went down. And though the team shared some players from last year’s champs, it was another year, another set of players, another chemistry not entirely likeable and, perhaps unexpectedly, not even that disappointing. In its own odd way it ended full of promise.
Last year the self-described “idiots” had numerous players to take the edge off the tension and ego that pervaded the clubhouse. From Pedro and Nelson to Orlando Cabrera, from the verbose intensity of Schilling to the stoner’s gaze of Bellhorn, there were a multitude of characters that lent character. This year’s team had no such tempering influence, beyond the increasingly tiring mercurial nature of Manny, the workmanlike intensity of Tek (however tired he may have been at the end) and the sincere and oft-heroic joy of Big Papi. This year, the warts were exposed. Johnny Damon’s contract talk wasn’t so idiotically endearing, just selfish, and Curt’s jabbering became harder to take when accompanied by a 7.00 ERA. Edgar never really showed us anything. Foulke never got healthy (and never stopped pouting). Tek got worn down in August and never rested. Matt Clement got hit in the head and never recovered. Theo looked down at the farm and his draft picks and never made that pennant-grabbing move. In the end, this Sox team wasn’t eminently likeable, not especially healthy, and not entirely well put together. Perhaps even by design. So where does that leave us?
We will always have last year. And we will always be excited to “wait til next year”. We have questions about next year. Will Manny return? Will Johnny defect? Will Keith heal? Will Curt stop calling Dennis and Callahan and rehab his ankle? Will Theo try to disappear Edgar or Matt, at pennies on the dollar? Will he sign another younger ace? (please, Theo, sign an ace!) Will Tito return? (sources in the front office tell SF-Dad that Tito’s tactical skills are a source of bitter disappointment up there, so nothing is guaranteed). Will the Sox add new seats inside the newly renamed “Glass” Monster?
It should be fun seeing these questions answered, and after a couple of weeks, a little bit of foliage, perhaps even a frost, we will re-visit our team, put this season behind us, and look forward to the possibilities for next year, for youth and excitement, for a lineup full of new faces (and Big Papi, of course) instead of “trusted vets” in contract years, for the possibility of watching a team fail even as it moves towards long-term success. Last year was the end of a drought. This year spelled the end of last year. And next year is almost in our sights.