Monday, October 12, 2009

Matt's Monday Thoughts for Oct. 12th

The Red Sox are the team that my emotions are tied to the most.

One spring morning back in 2003 while living in Alabama, I was driving to work thinking about what it would be like to see a Red Sox championship. My eyes welled up thinking about the parades, the celebrations, and the different world it would be to see my favorite team win it all.

To be a fan of a great team, that’s all most Red Sox fans wanted and if we became hated like Yankees – so what? We would have had our moment in the sun.

A few years later, after the first title for Boston in 86 years, I flew home at the last moment to watch the 5th game of a 5 game series of the Yankees vs. Red Sox. I was in a long distance relationship at the time with someone from Boston and she flew in to meet me at Fenway. It was expensive mini-vacation but we were offered awesome seats cheap so we had to go.

The Red Sox had dropped the first 4 games to New York and were looking at an epic 5 game sweep at home to our hated rivals.

We had 1 championship in our lifetime so both my girlfriend at the time and I could die in peace (or so we told ourselves) but we wanted our team to stop the slide and avoid a historical first to NY. A 5 game sweep in baseball is nearly unheard of. A 5 game sweep at FENWAY to the Yankees was completely unacceptable.

The Red Sox lost that afternoon. I would later look back on that day realize that Yankee Cory Lidle pitched that afternoon for the last time at Fenway. He would die in a plane crash in Manhattan a few months later but after the game I was just pissed off.

I walked out of Fenway and could not believe my team had managed to break my heart again. Even after the championship of 2004 – they could still sting my heart.

On Saturday morning, I jumped a double flight from Des Moines to Boston in order to watch the Red Sox battle the Angels in Game 3 of the American League Series the next day. I had never been to the playoff game at Fenway in my life, only Game 4 of the World Series in Denver in 2007, so my track record was pretty good. Again, I was offered good seats cheap and had to go.

The Red Sox had never lost to the Angels in a playoff series. Dating back to 1986, where the Sox came back to beat the then California franchise on a huge homerun by Dave Henderson in Game 7 of the series, we owned the Angels.

After the 5th inning, Boston was up 5-1 and people were making plans for Game 4 in their heads. I know I was and even though deep down, I knew better.

Welcome to Black Sunday.

On this day in Boston, I got the chance to watch the Red Sox choke away a 4 run lead in person and then watch the Patriots blow a 10 point lead on the road at Denver. More on Pats in a second….

Jonathan Papelbon had not given up a single earned run in his playoff career before Game 3. Over 20 innings of work and nobody had crossed home plate against him.

On Sunday, he allowed a hit that scored 2 runners in the 8th and then gave up 3 runs in the 9th to allow the Angels to beat Boston 7-6 in Game 3. Unreal. Pap walked Tori Hunter to load the bases in order to pitch to Vlad Guerrero…..their clean up hitter who had done nothing in the series but a veteran who took a first pitch, meatball, fast ball and put it in center field. Game over.

My heart stung again.

The Red Sox have been a unique story that went from tragedy to triumph thanks to finally winning but after the past 2 years you have to ask is it over?

1918 to 2004, 86 years between titles and everyone said Boston would never be the same. Those people were right cause Sox fans walking out of Fenway were shaking their heads, not headed for ledges like they would have been in the past.

I couldn’t believe how easy people took the loss. I was pissed off but my family just said “Oh well, they weren’t that good this year”. And they were right to say that cause L.A. was a better team but still…..we lost! Where is the anger?

Sure, I picked them to win in 4 over a Boston team that could not score enough runs in the regular season to catch the Yankees vaunted line up. We all knew the Red Sox weren’t the best team in the American League and I think they would have struggled against at least 2 of the National League playoff teams. Yet I had hope….a hope that was dashed like in the playoffs of 2008 and 2003 and 1999 and 1995 and on through out the history of my baseball team.

Suddenly, 2007 seems like a long time ago for me. But my family’s reaction of “Oh well” made me realize that Boston really won’t ever be the same town that I grew in. 2 Championships in 5 years has created a different type of fan. One that believes that in the future, there are good times ahead even if things suck right now.

Now, all I can only do is hope once again.

*Is it time to say that Tom Brady without Josh McDaniels is a problem? Tom Brady had a record setting performance in 2007 under McDaniels leadership. Then Matt Cassel became a quarterback and became multi-million dollar athlete with McDaniels as his tutor. Now, Kyle Orton has the Denver Broncos undefeated and McDaniels is the hottest name in the NFL for what his doing with him.

Brady and the Pats got shutout in the second half in Denver and New England gave up 13 unanswered points including the game winning field goal in Overtime. The Patriots’ offense looked slow and out of synch again as Brady continues to struggle with his timing.

New England is 4-2 on the year and still looks like the best team in their division but in both losses this year – at New York and Denver, the Pats offense has been held in check by dominate defenses.

In the post season, Brady has to be better if the Pats want any chance of winning a 4th ring. He has to get back on the same page as Randy Moss and has to be more accurate with his throws.

Bottom line – Tom Brady needs to play more like Tom Brady is supposed to.

*No show reviews this week as I just got back to Des Moines this afternoon. However, I’ll try to do a mid-week blog post on them. Thanks for reading.

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