I love so many things about baseball. I count down to when the pitchers and catchers report to spring training and then the count down to opening day. I count down until the Red Sox arrive in the Twin Cities, and I count down to the pennant race. Pieces of it are about baseball, other pieces are about my ability to cope. I count down to pitchers and catchers report because that means that one day, in what feels like a god forsaken tundra, spring will come. Other pieces are about hope. After a team that wins the pennant in October, we all go back to 0 wins, 0 losses. We start fresh and new and are reminded again and again until Opening Day.
On Tuesday, March 31, 2014, the Red Sox began their season. Joel bought me the MLB package for Valentine’s Day, and this year I agreed that we should do it month by month provided that I still got the radio during the long summer months to get through work. Plus, we had all these summer vacations planned, so we only had time for the radio. In past years, we discovered I don’t watch much during the summer months anyway.
But remember March 31st? Everything was different. I wasn’t miserable at my last job by then; I was still respected. Not a care in the world. We went to our games and I kept the MLB package through April and May. But then, May 27th came and I was let go. Suddenly, we had to cut back on all of our expenses.
I made Joel cancel the MLB package for June, spouting some excuse about how we couldn’t afford it. But the truth was I didn’t believe I deserved baseball. Even bad baseball makes me happy. How could I be happy when I believed that I made the biggest mistake of my life? I was let go.
I know, deep down inside, it wasn’t my fault or a mistake I made that caused it. It was arbitrary and due to poor management and communication, even desperation of a failing company. But, even now, on October 6, 2014, you can’t convince me fully that it was not my mistake, my failure, my fault.
After I made Joel cancel June, I waited until he was off the budget calendar and went in and cancelled all of the others: each month. A failure doesn’t deserve to be happy or have money spent on something foolish as the happiness the Red Sox, or any baseball, brings.
As I listen to my co-workers talk about the post-season, I replay moments in my head about the rough season the Red Sox had. Forcing A.J. Pierzynski, the catcher, out of the roster because the Red Sox found his attitude to “be a club house cancer. On July 16, 2014, the Red Sox officially released Pierzynski from their roster.” Pierzynski was traded to the St. Louis Cardnials, but he was released before the playoffs on October 1st to prevent him from playing. Even though the release had occurred, the cancer had still festered its way into the clubhouse. Not even Big Papi could pull the team together.
At the end of July, the Red Sox traded Stephen Drew, Johnny Gomes, AND John Lackey. The news of these trades were so large, it didn’t escape even me, who had her head in the sand all summer. I heard this and cried. I went into the bathroom at my contract position and cried. Cried hard. Drew and Lackey have been with us for so long, and I fell in love with Gomes because he hit a home run for me in 2013 in extra innings in a Twins game.
The Sox, these men, I adore and love, were forced to move. Unlike Pierzynski, Drew, Gomes, and Lackey are amazing players and did nothing wrong. But, they were forced to move on. They were let go. After July 31, 2014, I refused to watch or listen to any more Red Sox coverage. It was all too close to home. I felt I was losing the Red Sox too, as I have slowly become disillusioned with the job search process and am losing my faith in humanity and my faith in general.
But then, Sept. 22, 2014, came. Our friends, Nicole and Chris, took us to a Twins / Diamondbacks game. I only said yes because it was with them not because it was baseball. It took all my energy to pull my hair into my standard baseball watching ponytails and Twins colors to go to the stadium.
By the time the rituals began, the first pitch, the national anthem, the fireworks, I began to feel again. Chris is a huge Arizona fan, and Nicole sat in her Twins T-shirt. Both teams were at the bottom of their league, same with the Red Sox, but Nicole and Chris gave me baseball back that night.
They made it ok, again, to watch the double play that looks as though the players are dancing, the amazing diving catch, and the, above all, beautiful player who goes yard.
I’ll admit this, for one of the first times since 2003, I have no idea who is in the playoffs. But, I do know this: Derek Jeter is retired, and the Yankees aren’t in the playoffs.
In the end, the Red Sox will live to fight another day. By the end of the month, we’ll have a clean slate: just like everybody else. And just like them, I have lived to fight another day. Soon, I will have a clean slate at a new permanent position.
Next year though, the Red Sox are coming to the Twin Cities for Memorial Day. There will be another season of ups and downs and heartbreaks. Next year, I’ll be there for all the bruises and will learn to love the new players as I will love my new job.
For all of this revelation and growth, I tip my hat, the one with a big red B on it, to Nicole and Chris. Thank you for helping me heal. I’m not there yet, but we’ve got 130 days until the pitchers and catchers report in 2015 for me to get my heart and head in shape.