If you think this is going to be a blog post solely detailing the plays of one particular baseball game, you, my friend, are incorrect.
But it will start off that way…
On April 11th, 2016, I was sitting in the 3rd row of Fenway Park, a few yards behind third base. It was the home opener and the air was teeming with notes of Take Me Out to the Ballgame, the scent of classic ballpark franks, and nonstop chatter about Big Papi’s impending final season.
As I sat in these familiar red seats and took in the scene, I considered the preceding eleven years. It was here that my father and I had sat, each year since I was twelve, watching the Red Sox begin their season in one of the most magical places in Boston – or as I would argue – in the world. Ignoring one post-World Series opening day blip, the Sox had won every single game that I had witnessed from the cold hard plastic of these stands.
On this particular afternoon, at the bottom of the ninth, the Sox were down by three and I was unable to fathom the fact that they would not come through for me, as they had for so many years prior. With bated breath I watched as Papi took to the plate, in the perfect position to clinch a last minute win, as he had so many times before. In this moment, however, he was unable to go for the homer the 37,000 odd people in the stands were so adamantly praying for.
We lost 9-7.
As the stands emptied slowly, the lack of “Tessie” pumping through the sound system so painfully obvious, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that this game, this loss, represented how my personal “season” was going as well.
So here we are. Connecting – or the millennial social media equivalent – through a screen on a webpage I haven’t opened in nearly a year. I’m in such a different place now than I was the last time I hit post, and yet, I’m still just a ginger talking about baseball and creating wildly cheesy and drawn out metaphors as I continue on the journey of finding myself (whatever that means).
But I will give it my best anyway, if for no purpose besides a simplistic life update. If for no reason other than to get the thoughts out, to silence these cliche analogies pinging through my brain.
My new season begins, as did that of my beloved Red Sox, with a loss.
Okay, in this simplistic baseball/life analogy, I’m going to begin with an admission that my loss is more akin to the trading of a player that has helped me to many a World Series Championship, not an actual lost game. After so many years on a team that continued to win together, it is a hard decision to make, deciding that it’s time to let go. After 3.5 years in a relationship, it was not easy to realize that it was time for this chapter to end. As I’ve repeated these words to family and friends, they are so quick to be sad for me. However, I do think of this as a decision that is positive for the two of us involved. On my end, steadily being a “girlfriend” since I was 18 years old, on his, spending 3.5 years in his very first relationship.
How are we to spend our lives as a team that has not been able to grow alone as individual players?
Our relationship comes to an end with no misery and no anger. It comes to an end with the knowledge that we could very well find ourselves together again, in a far off “someday”. It comes to an end with maturity and peace. However, it is still a loss. A loss of a player in my life who has helped me through so much, helped me to so many wins and celebrations, a player that I will miss so dearly, that though it is positive, I must consider this to be a defeat.
The good news is that even when a team loses a player, it’s still a team. (To be fair, I warned you this would be cheesy and cliche.) People will so often tell you that you’re all you’ve got in this crazy world. You’re at it alone. To put it simply, I could not disagree more. I may be the VIP of my own team, running the bases and stepping up to the plate and pitching fastballs with every inning, but I am surrounded by my teammates in everything that I do. The shining beacon that cuts through all the steady losses of my season is that of an amazing team that is there for the home games and the away. It’s a team that knows when to mourn a great player or go for shots and chase them with rounds of “good riddance” (Here’s lookin at you Damon & Ellsbury). It’s the team that, even if you’re the one rounding the bases to home or striking out swing after swing, they’re in that locker room with you cheering you on, supporting your every run, or hyping you up for the next game.
When you start a season with a loss, it’s with a sigh that you suddenly feel that undefeated season slip out of your grasp. As losses add it up, it is easy to lose hope. Another loss to your rival, a narrow lead that disappears in the top of the ninth, a strike that should’ve been a ball. A relationship change, a city you’re not fond of, troubleshooting friendships and finances and family. Game after game, it’s hard to believe that you could ever come back from such constant defeat. But, even then, it’s not over…
Even if I come out of this season without a win to my name, there will be a next season. I will get there and begin anew with lessons and memories (and admittedly new hesitations), but I will begin with a clean slate.
It’s not as simple to align my seasons with those of the Sox. They will end in October with another World Series win under their belts (obviously) and begin again on a cool April day at 4 Yawkey Way in Boston, Massachusetts. I can’t tell when I will win my World Series title. I don’t know when all my losses will turn into wins or when I’ll get a break or if I’ll be able to take some time in sunny Florida to train for my new season. I don’t know if I’ll win this round, or lose more players, or go for a grand slam in the bottom of the 9th that solidifies my place in record books for all of history.
But this I do know. Even after a rough start to my season, sooner or later I’m going to have a good game.