It's an offseason of confusion, an offseason of pain, an offseason of trying to remember the good things that come along with backing a lousy team.
The Sox, since we last talked about them, traded away Freddy Garcia, he of the 2005 postseason heroics and near-misses on no-hitters and perfect games in his two-and-a-half-years on the South Side. A few prospects came back in return - none highly-touted enough to get Sox fans salivating over the trade - but the plus side is that the Good Guys have another $10 million to spend. Of course, people are up in arms over this.
The funniest part about it is that the best argument anyone had for keeping Freddy for another year was what he did in 2005. Sure, he was one of the Four Horsemen throwing those complete games, and sure, he threw the game of his (or any pitcher's) life to win the World Series.
But then what?
His fastball dropped off, which means death for a power pitcher like him. Runners stole bases at will. He gave up five runs a game. He led the league in wild pitches.
Is this really what we Sox fans are going to cry over? How easy it becomes to let nostalgia put the blinders on; focusing on what someone did rather than what someone does is a good way to become turn us all into a stadium full of Al Bundy's. "You see that Freddy out there? He might be getting shelled, but once upon a time he struck out four batters in a single inning."
The thing is, with the National League being as weak as it is there's no reason to think he can't shine again. But you never know. We can't take his past away from him, but there's no point in speculating that the future would be any better with him around.
The flip side to this was the trade of superstar-in-waiting Brandon McCarthy to the Rangers. Or, as we Sox fans like to call it, "the other trade."
For years we've been hearing about this kid in such vaunted terms as "ace of the future" and "the best pitching prospect in the majors" and (brace yourself) "The Second Coming of Jack McDowell."
"Another Jack McDowell!" we thought. "Holy hell!" I realize it's sad when the frame of reference for greatness among a fanbase is a guy who had an oh-so-brief run at the top before demanding to leave town. But such is life as a Sox fan. There's always another guy, and we were told time and again this was the guy.
This was the guy so highly regarded that the Sox wouldn't trade him for Alfonso Soriano or Carl Crawford or anyone else that quite possibly could've made up the difference between a repeat run at the top in 2006 and the third-place finish we all wept so many tears of pain over. Sure it might've meant scrambling for a new plan in 2007 and beyond, but so what?
We are Sox fans, and to the Sox fan tomorrow for today is always a fair trade.
So now, with another couple months until the season starts all there is to do is wait and see. Maybe more help is on the way. Maybe the Cubs will suck enough that it won't matter if the Sox' window of greatness has closed for a while (okay, actually they will but that's for another day). But think about the good times we all had during those out-of-it-by-August days and half-empty stadium nights.
Who doesn't love sneaking into better seats after the 5th inning?
Who doesn't love hoping for a good fight to break out in the stands to provide a distraction from the embarrassment happening on the field?
Who doesn't love buying great tickets in the morning for a huge game that same night?
Who doesn't love...ah, to hell with it. See you in the cheap seats.