Monday night, I tuned into Cleveland vs. Boston. The Red Sox have been my team since childhood, though I consider myself a tepid member, at best, of any team-oriented Nation. Nevertheless, October plants in me an urge to get last looks at baseball diamonds before the long winter settles in. So I watched.
I watched the Sox fall behind, inch back, lose ground again. I watched slugger David Ortiz in potentially his last game before retiring, unable to rally his team with anything more than a sacrifice fly. I watched him draw a walk in the bottom of the eight and advance to second on a teammate's base hit. I felt hope flash in this one-run game. Then, I watched Ortiz lifted for a pinch runner who wouldn't advance any further.
Designated hitters like Ortiz are used to doing a lot of watching, I presume. Still, it must feel disconcerting -- near the end of a 20-year career full of game-changing moments -- to have the ninth inning decided outside of one's control. Tactically, the circumstances made sense for Ortiz to leave the game. Emotionally, it was a moment for rueful sighs. Not the end of the world; just the end.