By Rich Levine
I had a weird feeling Sunday night watching the Sox blow their latest, and last, significant game of the 2010 season.
Then again, it was pretty weird that I had feeling at all.
Like you, or at least a lot of "yous", I'd given up on the Sox a couple weeks ago. More specifically, it was right after the sweep by the White Sox (at Fenway), and before the four losses in five games to the Jays and Orioles (at Fenway), when the emotional switch officially went off.
It's not that I stopped watching entirely. I'd check in when I was home, read about it and watch highlights when I didn't, but it became harder to justify dedicating five nights a week to living and dying with a team that was already dead. I still wanted them to win. I just didn't let the losses affect me. That's what happens after you're burned so many times by the same team. You move on. You turn the page. You stop believing.
And on Sunday night, I stopped watching. Actually, I never even started. As I sat down on the couch after dinner, I put on the DolphinsJets game and was immediately sucked in; hit with anxiety over how much better and stronger both team looked compared to New England, and terror over the thought of the Pats walking into that stadium next Monday night. Throw in the fact that it was a pretty entertaining football game between the Pats' two fiercest rivals, and I'll admit it I forgot the Sox were on.
Maybe that makes me fair-weather. If so, I don't know, you're better than me. But is there really any debate as to which game was most important for the average Boston sports fan? Is there any doubt as to which one mattered more? OK, maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel better, but bottom line is that I couldn't ignore the Sox forever.
Sometime around 11:30, I caught a tweet about the top of the ninth inning. I saw that Rivera was in, that the Sox were only down one and I decided to go back.
I'm so happy that I did.
And that's what's so strange.
Sunday night, I watched the Red Sox make a dramatic comeback and then suffer a beyond frustrating loss to the Yankees, at Yankee Stadium, on national TV, in late September, and I'm happy that I did.
How ridiculous is that? How does that make any sense?
This is the type of game the Sox would blow a couple times a year back before 2004. It was the kind of game that would leave me depressed for at least 24 hours. But last night it was OK? Where the hell am I?
I'm not sure what I thought would have happened if the Sox actually did win that game. Did I think they'd go one some mystical run through the final week of the season? Did I think that game really mattered?
No. But from the moment Ryan Kalish got on base, Mo got rattled, New York got antsy and the Sox started running on the Yankees like they were the Sox, I was instantly transformed back to a time and place where it all really did matter.
For that one inning, I was able to ignore all the harsh realities that ruined this year's pennant race in Boston and really care about the Red Sox. I never thought that would happen again this season.
In the end, the game served as a nice piece of closure on the 2010 campaign. One final reminder of why we stopped believing in the first place. But we knew all that already. Sunday night's game changed nothing about how we perceive or will remember the 2010 Red Sox. That legacy was already set in stone. But for a good half hour, we got to pretend that that wasn't the case; that it still meant so much.
And for that I'm thankful.
(And that still feels so weird.)