Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Pain Trade

Among stock traders, discussion exists about 'the pain trade', that is, the market doing what will cause the most people the most pain. Red Sox fans know a little bit about that.

Having grown up in the sixties, I knew the Days of Hopelessness, eclipsed forever by 1967 and 'The Impossible Dream', where competitiveness replaced failure. To paraphrase John Wooden, "failure is not fatal, but failure to change can be."

Sox fans accepted the Gibson-Brock defeat of 1967 and the Big Red Machine rollover in 1975 with equanimity. The Shea It Ain't So debacle of 1986 seemed the final straw, until 2003 and Gradygate.

Of course, a pair of World Series victories erases a lot of heartache.

All of which brings us to the 2008 ALCS playoffs. Last night we got a little pain early, with the TBS BS that shut down their transmission and landed Steve Harvey in our laps. Harvey's Wallbangers 'OK' and Steve Harvey reruns NOT. Could the Sox carry momentum from Game 5's collapse of the Death Rays, or did momentum last as long as the next day's starting pitcher?

The Rays got where they are despite a series of potentially crippling injuries to Crawford and Longoria, because of solid starting pitching, excellent defense that has betrayed them in the ALCS, and young talent. The Sox limp into the playoffs with Josh Beckett hurting, Mike Lowell awaiting surgery, and David Ortiz coping with a season-long wrist injury.

Lee Trevino used to say that pressure was playing a 5 dollar Nassau with 2 dollars in your pocket. The Sox have played with house money after Game 5s miracle comeback. For Jon Lester, a survivor of aggressive cancer, pressure means fighting off nausea, immune deficiency from chemotherapy, and suffering through what a lineup of oncologists can bring. Whatever the outcome tonight, pressure is not the cause. Lester knows more about the pain trade than most of us will ever know.

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