Perhaps because we treated him like shit? Perhaps because he has hinted he's not exactly dying to come back to Boston? Perhaps because this is what always happens?
Funny how I can be on a somewhat resigned even keel about the Sox falling out of first place, but when I heard the news that Keith Foulke has been shut down for the season, well...I found myself, oddly enough, in Kenmore Square, watching the Citgo sign blink, when it came over the radio on the rock station I was listening to in the car, and the lights of Fenway were visible over the horizon, and suddenly I found myself near tears.
Why does he mean so much to me? Why have I been his stalwart defender all season? What is it about me that attaches so much significance, despite my better judgement, to individual players--fallible as they are, transitory as they are? Why do I leave myself open to the inevitable heartbreak that comes when those guys are gone?
And they will always be gone, at one point or another. Nomar. Pedro. Roger. No one escapes being separated, by necessity or by whim, from Boston. No one stays.
I guess I was just hoping that Keith would stay for longer, that the process of champion to alienation would take longer than ten or so months.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. At some point I should have grown that skin, started keeping the individual guys at arm's length, focused steadfastly on the laundry, so that, like the rest of the Nation, I could greet news like this with a shrug. But I loved him.
I did. I loved the way he looked and the way he moved and the way he threw the ball with that weird snap of the wrist. I loved the way he stood between us and heartbreak last year, night after night, and never showed a trace of fear. People talk about Schilling, Manny got the MVP, but he was the difference. He was the hero. Know what proves it? The fact that he never got the full portion of credit for it he deserved.
Except from me. I loved him. Once again, I concentrated at least a good portion of my love for the team, in fact, onto the broad shoulders of some dynamic player, some new knight in shining armor striding out of the bullpen or stepping to the plate, and now I've got to pull it back from wherever he's gone.
It's not the first time. I'm sure it won't be the last.