At lunch today, my father and I were discussing the current state of the Red Sox after this weekend’s series loss to the Yankees. He said, ‘the team is kind of wimpy. The quality of character is consistent; you’re either playing with heart all the time, or you’re not. It’s not a sometimes thing.’ I responded, “I already wrote a piece about how hard it is to root for this Red Sox team last month.”
We’re both right. It’s still hard to root for this team, and heart plays a big part in that; I’ve felt it since I sat down at Fenway on Opening Day. Something is missing, and it’s not just the games we should’ve won, because it’s not all about winning. You might lose sometimes, you might suck sometimes, but it still comes down to your character, heart, and spirit. Those things determine the kind of athlete, even the kind of person you are. This team, even in fleeting moments of victory and excitement, don’t seem to have that bond, that spirit that makes a true winning team. And if you don’t have doubts about their postseason abilities, you’re insane.
It’s not just how inconsistent this team is, straddling a first-place standing and two losing weekends in a row. It’s not the injuries or the shocking amount of players left on base by Hanley Ramirez alone. It’s not even “Win, Dance, Repeat,” which feels so tired that I could barely fault the Yankees for mocking it on Twitter. It’s that I see the outfielders not even really try to make catches that they could’ve made, and that even when someone hits a homer, it doesn’t feel like the magic is really there. Three rings in ten years might be enough for the Sox, but most of these players weren’t around in 2013, so I’d assume they might want to, you know, win the thing they work towards all season? Then again, most of this team was here last year and weren’t motivated enough to give Papi a final winning season, so I don’t know what could possibly motivate them now.
In 2013, I spent most of the postseason in my apartment in Tel Aviv in tears. I stayed up until sunrise for every game, refusing to let the 7-hour time difference stop me from watching MY team overcome the odds. When Koji threw that final out, I woke up everyone in my apartment with my sobbing. And that’s what I want. It might be sentimental, but I think that the minute we start treating sports as all-results and no emotion is the minute we lose that magic forever. Not every team is going to be 2004 or 2013, but I still want a team I can root for with all my heart. I want a team that makes me scream until my voice is gone. A team that breaks my heart and then puts it back together, not a team that makes me swear in frustration because they just don’t seem to care. I definitely shouldn’t have to care enough for all of us.