So, is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all? Probably depends on where you live.
If you live in the Bay Area and you’re a die-hard Giants fans, it’s an empty feeling to know that your postseason chances have officially ended, but at least the pain was somewhat numbed by the fact that you knew weeks ago — if not months — that it just wasn’t going to happen this year. You never had a chance to have your heart broken with a stretch drive collapse.
If you live in the Bay State, however, the month of September has been a day-to-day grind for your Boston Red Sox that is real torture. What was once a certain spot in the American League playoffs, with another potential classic matchup against the hated Yankees down the October road, has turned into a nightmare.
In fact, the Sox began the month of September with a 1½-game lead over New York for the AL East title, and now trail the Yankees by nearly double digits. The Red Sox have now lost 18 of 24 games this month, including Sunday’s double-header split at Yankee Stadium, and are on the verge of one of the worst playoff-race choke jobs in modern baseball history.
And if the Sox do complete the collapse, handing the AL wild card to the somewhat-surging Rays or to the Angels, it couldn’t happen to a more deserving team or city.
For decades prior to their 2004 World Series championship, New Englanders cried about how their beloved Sox hadn’t won a title since 1918. Each summer and fall, they’d swim in a “woe is us” river of tears, looking for sympathy from other more fortunate towns and blaming the “Curse of the Bambino.”
These same fans, mind you, had staged more parades for the Celtics, Bruins and Patriots championship teams than Macy’s could in a half-century of Thanksgiving Days, yet they wanted us to feel badly for their misfortune.
Not bloody likely.
Of course, prior to last season, other fans might have felt the same way about San Francisco fans. The 49ers’ five Super Bowl rings should have been more than enough to offset any pain caused by the Giants’ title drought since arriving on the West Coast. Still, no other sports city in America had whined harder or cried louder while enjoying so many world championships as Boston — which makes this September swoon that much more enjoyable for the rest of us.
The Red Sox have allowed the Rays and Angels back into the race in about every way imaginable. Their starting pitching, situational hitting, and even routine fielding have been so atrocious down the stretch that manager Terry Francona has begun throwing darts at lineup cards, trying to change anything he could to spark his $175 million club. Nothing has worked, and now the 2011 Sox are poised to join the 1951 Dodgers, the 1964 Phillies, the 1995 Angels, the 2007 Mets, and even the 2009 Tigers in the annals of historical late-season implosions.
Even if they are able to hold off the contenders in the season’s final three days, Boston’s epic September failure will surely do them no psychological good in a divisional series matchup against the Tigers or Rangers. Barring a miraculous turnaround on the scale of the collapse itself, the season is not going to end well for one of baseball’s most notorious spending machines — just one month after the expectations of a deep championship run.
All things considered, I’d rather be a Giants fan who saw it coming.
Bob Frantz is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.