I loved baseball growing up. Some of my best sports memories came from the diamond. I played as a kid, wore my Mo Vaughn, Manny Ramirez and Curt Schilling shirts and jerseys with pride, and simply loved the game.
That all seemed like so long ago. Sadly, I can't say that I've harbored the same feelings this season. If you need to ask why, well, then you probably haven't been paying attention.
September's collapse, beer and chicken, the attitudes and endless complaints. So sickening.
Admittedly, I had given up on my once-beloved Boston Red Sox going into this weekend's series against the New York Yankees, and it was a long time coming. I wrote a feature early in June saying as much. At the time, the Red Sox were a .500 ball club, and they weren't making any progress towards changing that. Coming into the weekend? Same old, same old.
Heck, I was more excited about watching Great Britain's basketball team than the Red Sox (for the record, I wasn't very excited about that), and they were playing the hated Yankees.
I wasn't particularly drawn to either of the first two games of this weekend's series in the Bronx. Sure, I caught glimpses, as well as the end of Saturday night's game. Sure, they won that game, but they gave up a big lead. Shocker, huh? Nothing new there.
Fast forward to Sunday night.
I didn't watch the whole game, but I tuned in just in time to see the Sox give up a 2-1 lead late in the game. Tie game. Great. Here we go again. Then things got interesting in the tenth inning.
Will Middlebrooks got hit (but that's not how the umps saw it), Bobby Valentine and Josh Beckett -- who wasn't even playing in the game -- were tossed, and Pedro Ciriaco stepped up in the clutch again. Enter Alfredo Aceves in the tenth, and after a few bumps, goodnight New York.
By the final at-bat, I was standing, pacing, clutching my head. All of the things I did as a passionate fan years ago. All the excitement was there, and the passion was back. Once again, I'm hooked.
Alright, let me reiterate. I took the bait and bit into the hook, but they haven't reeled me in.
After all, it was just one game, right? Well, two if you count Saturday's victory as well, but that lacked the same dramatics. And even after all of that Sunday night fun, the Red Sox are still 51-51.
Far from acceptable.
You can't help but ask, though. Was that the turning point? Bobby Valentine, Jon Lester, Ben Cherington and company have been talking about that crucial turning point for quite some time. Sooner or later, they had to turn the tables, right? Or so, we all hoped.
No, we don't know if that was the turning point, and we won't for another month or so. It sure felt like one, though. At the very least, it should serve as a spark plug for fans who have gone astray.
Don't want to take the bait and buy back in? I don't blame you. No one should. I'm back on the fence with my support for this team, and I realize they may wind up going on another losing skid, making Sunday's win meaningless.
You can make your own call, of course. As for me, I'm going to give them one more chance this year. What can I say? I guess I just have the itch. Here's hoping they don't break our hearts again.