Break-ups are never easy.
And over the last few months, Bostons experienced the end of quite a few long-term relationships: Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Matt Light, Tim Thomas, Kevin Youkilis, Ray Allen. Thats a serious roster of goodbyes. And like in real-life, every break up has been different in its own way.
Losing a player to retirement is usually a little easier. Emotional? Of course, but you understand. There's immediate closure. You almost always stay friends. Light, Varitek and Wakefield are the exes who remain a part of your life; who you can run into on the street with your current significant other without things being awkward. Where you can both say: Yeah, we had some great times, but that period of our life is over. And mean it.
Thats the best. Everyone should break up this way. The world would be a far less hateful place. But you know thats never happening. Well see warp zones before we see the end of the messy break up. With all the emotion, energy and trust that goes into these relationships, there will always be situations like . . .
Kevin Youkilis: The relationship that ends a few months later than it should have. Where you could have walked away before things got really ugly, but both sides played the fool and ended up at each other's throat. Now she's off having a great time every night in a new city, and you can't catch a break.
Ray Allen: The girlfriend who leaves you for that goon in your office who drives a hummer, likes to pop his collar and wears his sunglasses inside. Allens the ex who built up so much resentment over your time together that she not only thrives on her own happiness, but also your misery. Now you're both hurt, and it will be a while before the dust settles and the anger subsides.
Or Tim Thomas: The girlfriend who sends a Facebook message out of the blue saying that she wants to break up, and that shes moving to Colorado to go work on a ski lift. Who leaves you scratching your head, like What the HELL just happened? How did I let myself get wrapped up with such a psycho?"
In the aftermath of any break up, you're going to harp on the hypothetical.
Did it have to end this way? What if Youkilis had a breakthrough with Bobby V? What if Allen forgave the Celtics for dangling him at the deadline and accepted a more realistic role? What if no one ever found out about Tim Thomas skipping the White House? Would we all still be happy? Are we really better without him?
You get it.
And in time, you really do get it. Which is to say, you eventually realize that when it comes to relationships, it's crazy to live in hypotheticals. That whether a relationship could have been salvaged is far less important than the fact that it wasn't. That it's over. That when things end, they usually end for a good reason, even if that reason isn't immediately apparent.
I was reminded of this last night during the Home Run Derby. To be specific, it was a moment in the pre-show, when Chris Berman turned to Nomar Garciaparra and asked:
What are some of your memories of playing in Kaufman Stadium?
Oh, it was nice," Nomar said. "It played as a true ballpark. But at the same time for me, it was very difficult. I had a tough time getting motivated. The reason why? Its beautiful. The grass is so green. You have the waterfalls in the outfield. I really felt like I wanted to just get a blanket, go out there in the grass and have a nice picnic. The fans are awesome. Theyre here. Theyre there. They just want to watch a good baseball game. So for me it was a little difficult because it was such a nice place to play."
I'm still not sure if he was joking, or if he was being frighteningly honest or blatantly insincere. I just know that when I heard those ridiculous words, it was like bumping into an old girlfriend on the street, having an awful conversation and walking away wondering how you ever got along in the first place: "Man, I was really that torn over losing Nomar?"
Of course I was. We all were. His departure was one of the most sudden, shocking and emotional break ups of the last 10 years. Of course, in his situation, the fact that Boston won the World Series three months later helped the healing process, but either way, we would have eventually realized what we have today, and what we will with guys like Youk, Allen and Thomas. That just because it hurts to say goodbye, doesn't mean it's a mistake.