Like Dustin Pedroia or Kevin Youkilis rounding first, my exuberance for today's game was met rudely. For Pedroia and Youkilis, the rude awakening came in the form of an out at second base; for me it came in the form of watching as the game unravelled, while sitting at the dentist's office.
Leave it to me to have an appointment for a routine cleaning on Opening Day. At least there are televisions in my dentist's office, one of which I watched in the waiting room and another of which I drove my hygienist crazy twisting around in the chair to see.
When David Ortiz struck out with two men on base in the top of the 8th, the hygienist thought she'd accidentally stabbed me with the little hook she was using to probe my gums.
So the Red Sox lost. Curt Schilling gave a disconcerting performance, indeed--he wasn't just hit but hit hard, all over the ballpark. It's hard to tell at this point exactly what the problem was--I look forward to his postgame analysis on his blog, if he offers one.
Meanwhile, Gil Meche was Schilling's mirror image, leaving to a thunderous and well-deserved ovation in the eighth after surrendering just one run to the hapless Sox, who to a man looked lost at the plate.
They looked even more lost in the field--I could hear my dad's anguished yells from where I was sitting in front of the bubbling fish tank in the dentist's office waiting room when Manny let a base hit to left dribble almost to a complete stop down the line. Even Youkilis was uncharacteristically tripped up at first base.
As with Schilling, it's difficult to know exactly what went wrong. I could see if the fault rested entirely with the new guys, but the essential failure of the Sox today revolved equally around established players who were familiar with one another--Varitek, Youkilis, Lowell, Schilling. Maybe despite what seemed an interminable spring training they haven't yet gelled completely as a team? Maybe they underestimated the Royals?
"I stunk and didn't improve and got worse," was Schilling's analysis in front of the NESN microphones. Maybe it's as simple as that.
You could, if you were so inclined, look at this in a superstitious way--the Red Sox last lost their Opening Day game in 2004. Before that, they lost in 2003. Last year, they won on Opening Day. There's a superstition in theater--good dress rehearsal, bad opening night. Maybe a good Opening Day means a bad end to the season?
Of course, popping this particular bubble is the fact that the Red Sox won their Opening Day game in 1999 a year they made the playoffs, and of course, lost in 2002, a season they didn't. So on the other hand you could be comforted by the idea that the result of Opening Day means nothing at all, which is probably a much healthier way to look at things.
Regardless. I remain largely unperturbed by this loss, perturbing as it was in places. I guess if the Red Sox are going to lose, they are wise to lose when I'm so happy to see them anyway that I take secret delight in wincing and muttering under my breath and gesturing incredulously at a screen, simply because actual baseball is being played on it. By the Red Sox. In a game that means something.
Of course, the Sox should be forewarned that this happy glow will probably only last with me a week, tops. Here's hoping they get it together by then.