This is the first baseball postseason I've paid attention to in which the Red Sox did not play. It's an odd feeling. Like crashing a party where you weren't invited.
Last night Julia and I watched the Dodgers / Mets game. She paid attention to it more than I did--I kept watching a play here and there, and then losing interest. It was strange.
The plays I did watch, the ones I did pay attention to, though...and the players...it seemed like every one of them had a .300 batting average. Several catches right at the outfield wall kept the game excruciatingly (for the fans at Shea Stadium) scoreless for several innings. Tommy Glavine, who is from Billerica, and who at this point looks more like he should be in the broadcast booth than still pitching, spun a beauty for the Mets. It was a higher level of baseball than the one I'd been watching for the last couple of months, but I missed the Red Sox.
I am a Red Sox bigot. I will freely admit this. Those posters and postcards you sometimes see of the "view from Boston" where everything beyond Worcester is California and Japan are sometimes pretty close to my real worldview. I know players around the league in relation to what they have done for or against the Red Sox; I know teams in relation to how much or how little they challenge the Red Sox historically. What I remember about Carlos Beltran, for example, is the hot stove season in which the radio wires in Boston were aglow with buzz about acquiring him from the Houston Astros.
So there was, of course, Gump, and Nomar, and even Derek, chewing away on something in the Dodgers dugout. Pedro's sidelined. Tommy Glavine's from Billerica. Everyone else was a stranger to me. Well...except Buelly, who made a miraculous appearance at the dugout rail, curling his hands into his jacket sleeves and huddling into himself in the chilly autumn air. I'm sorry...you can't just take my Buelly away for months and months and then give me something like that all at once come October. That just ain't right.
We went out for a cigarette mid-game, and when we came back, it was the bottom of the sixth, bases loaded, two outs. The pitching coach and infielders were gathered around the Dodgers' relief pitcher Brett Tomko; sweat was pouring down his face. His sandy blonde hair was standing out from his neck in wet curls with all the sweat. He was puffing out his cheeks and blowing to try to calm himself, rubbing up the ball frantically.
Eventually, Tomko would be relieved (or not) by Mark Hendrickson, in my opinion a dead ringer for John Smoltz except without the same ability (at least last night) to get outs, the Mets would score two more runs, and that would essentially be the ball game. But it was that moment with Tomko, hyperventilating, hands working over the ball, he and everyone around him on the mound and everyone in the stands looking like they were going to blow chunks at any moment, that really made me feel acutely what I was missing.
Of course, things have been hectic and intense with me lately in virtually all other areas of my life. It's not good, it's not bad, but it's...a lot. A lot is going on right now, and it doesn't look to stop until November. I have to say the Red Sox may have done me a favor by making it so that I didn't have to add playoff baseball intensity, worry, aggravation, and sleeplessness on top of everything else.
Or as Julia put it, "It's good of the Red Sox to take some time off this year and let our ulcers heal over."