Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Don't Stop Believing

I’m sure you all know what’s coming. Chowda elimination after a nail-biter of an ALCS and an eighth inning where it almost looked like—maybe, just maybe— they might regain the lead. And, well, since they didn’t, I bet you probably think that I’m just here to say, “In your faces.”

But not so.

And not just because if I did say, “In your faces,” Chowdas fans would say, “Whatever. Your team didn’t even make it to the postseason.” To that I would simply respond, “This is sports, where logic does not dictate taunting. So in your faces.” But the reason I’m not here to say that is because I know how—what are the words I’m looking for?—oh, right, I know how bitter, and mad, and miserable most Chowda Heads must feel right about now.

No one could have expressed the stinging disappointment of this game 7 defeat quite as eloquently as utility infielder Alex Cora:

"Our goal the whole time was to win the World Series. It didn't' matter if we came back in Game 5 or whatever…Like I said, we're disappointed because our goal from the get-go was to win four games in the World Series. It didn't matter who it was against or whatever… Like always, you have a week or whatever and then you're going to look back and think about everything we accomplished."

Or whatever.

I’m not quite the wordsmith that Cora is (of course, he’s not quite the hitter I am), but he is essentially making the point that I was trying to make the other day. In the end, if you are a Chowda or a Chowda Head, the fact that there was almost a miraculous comeback is kind of neither here nor there. Because, well, almost making it to the World Series is kind of like being half-pregnant. Or, to put it in the immortal words of Ricky Bobby, when it comes to the LCS, if you’re not first, you’re last.

So, the point is that, while I’m psyched, I won’t rub it in because I get that this is hard for Chowda Heads. To have lost. In what ended up being such a close series. In a game that they really almost could have won. And to have watched all those Devils pile on top of each other after that last out in the ninth as they celebrated the fact that they were one step closer to the championship. That feels pretty crappy. So, I think it would be wrong for me to pour salt in the wound. I’m sensitive like that. What I will say to all you Chowda Heads out there is, “Don’t stop believing.” Because I know believing is, like, your big thing.

Of course, despite Boston’s crushing defeat, it was a bittersweet weekend for us Bomber fans. Sure, we can take comfort in the fact that the Chowdas are all golfing with the rest of us schmucks. But news from Nebraska cast a pall on what would otherwise have been a sense of unadulterated glee—Boy Wonder Joba Chamberlain went and got himself a DUI. Apparently, he wasn’t just drinking and driving. He was drinking while driving.

I mean, it’s been a tough October for all of us, buddy, but get it together.

I don’t know what it is, but something about Joba inspires people to want to get his back. In response to the news, even the cantankerous Hank Steinbrenner got all gushy about how you stand by your family in their time of need. And, apparently, Joba is a part of the Steinbrenner family. A dubious honor. There are those cynics who might say that this has a little something more to do with Joba’s numbers than the fact that the dude is just compulsively likable. If this had been, say, Ian Kennedy, Hankles would probably not have given him quite the same Prodigal Son forgiveness—family or not. Blood is thicker than mud, but not quite as thick as an 8.17 ERA.

But, you see, it’s not just Hank. It seems to be everyone. Even my cousin Ben, a tried and true Chowda Head, came to Joba’s defense when I mentioned the incident to him. “You don’t understand how it is in places like that, Melanie. Drinking and driving is obviously stupid, but when you’re in Nebraska? It really doesn’t matter because you’re literally the only one on the road.” He then went on to tell me that a friend of his had read a 300-page novel while driving the Texas panhandle with his car in cruise control. (For those of you who complain that you wish you could read more but just can’t find the time—no more excuses.) The point is that you know you have an uncannily lovable Yankee on your hands when even citizens of Red Sox Nation starts jumping to his defense.

In any event, Joba may be looking at a longer off-season than the rest of us. Even if he gets off easy—with probation—he is facing at least two months without a license. In Nebraska, having no license is like the ultimate in not-coolness. And just when he got all cool by getting famous and everything. Let’s just hope moms is game to drive him to the bowling alley on Friday nights for the rest of the winter.

But we weren’t talking about Joba. We were talking about the Chowdas. And how we won’t try to make them feel bad even though we’re happy that we aren’t going to have to look at any of their ugly mugs for the rest of the year. (Will Kevin Youkilis do us all a service by shaving off at least SOME of that facial hair? It’s just like too much facial hair.) And how even someone like Crisp deserves his due right about now. He had a hell of a postseason. Well, guess what, Coco Crisp? I know you’re feeling pretty fragile at the moment. So just to show how thoughtful I can be, for today, I’m going to refrain from telling you that you suck Coco Crisp.

(Even though you suck Coco Crisp.)

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