Sunday, May 20, 2012

Derek Lowe = My Annoying Ex Girlfriend

Long before I met my wife, I dated a woman for a while. In retrospect it was one of the most annoying relationships I ever had because I could never get a handle of where we stood.

Sometimes things would seem wonderful, then instantly it would become miserable. Every time I said "That's it. We can't continue this! It's awful" it would suddenly get wonderful and fun again.

Then whenever I thought "Man, this is working out. This could be the one!" it would become miserable. And there was no transition period. It would just go back and forth between "floating on a cloud in love" and "I feel like I am stuck on Shutter Island."

The best way I could describe the roller coaster of dating this woman is to show you the career of Derek Lowe.

As a Red Sox fan, I remember him being a good middle reliever, sometimes starter and sometimes closer between 1998 and 1999. That was the flirting and getting to know you part of the relationship.

Then he became an All Star lights out closer. He led the league with saves in 2000 and was super reliable. That was the whirlwind beginning of the romance where everything was new and exciting and sexy.

Then in 2001 he began to crash and burn as the Red Sox closer. He lost his first few games. By the end of May, he had as many losses as he had saves. He was no longer effective and lost his closer job, all the while fighting with pitching coach and eventual manager Joe Kerrigan. That was the "Why are you acting so crazy? Everything was so nice before you lost your mind" part of the relationship.

Sox fans had all but written Lowe off when he was put into the rotation in 2002. Then on April 27, 2002, he threw a no hitter in Fenway Park against Tampa. The place went wild and Lowe acted humble and apologetic to the Red Sox fans for his subpar 2001. The one time closer became an ace along side Pedro and won 21 games in the process and finished third in the Cy Young vote.

That was making up with her. And it also was her admitting that she was acting crazy and she changed her attitude and became even more loving than before. And I felt "Wow, we went through a lot and we're stronger than ever!" Maybe it was time to start looking at rings.

In 2003, it was a little shakier with Lowe. Sure he won 17 games but didn't look as strong as he had the year before. The ERA jumped by nearly 2 runs and he didn't have the same swagger. But he did come out of the bullpen in the down to the wire Game 5 of the Division Series in Oakland. With the A's one swing away from winning the series he struck out Adam Melhuse and Terrence Long to clinch the series. He gave an obscene gesture to the A's and was piled upon during the clinching celebration. His great highlight was as a closer, NOT a starter.

This was when the two of us were getting a little tense. But then, out of the blew she did something that reminded me of those exciting first days and we stayed together.

In 2004, Lowe was a borderline disaster. Sure he won 14 games, but his ERA was more than double his 2002 numbers. He finished the year with a 5.42 ERA and was removed from the rotation, all the while feuding with Francona. But, amazingly, he found his groove in the playoffs. He won the clinching Game 3 of the Division Series out of the bullpen. He threw 6 innings of 1 hit ball on two days rest in the clinching Game 7 of the ALCS and threw 7 shutout innings to win the World Series clinching Game 4. He went from being the odd man out to being the ace clinching the Championship.

Likewise, me and the unnamed girlfriend squabbled, fought, couldn't stand being in the same room with each other and I couldn't wait to see it end. Then she took me on a weekend trip that was the most romantic and fun time of the entire relationship. (Unlike Lowe, I didn't get a ring.)

Over the next few years, Lowe fluctuated between really effective years (including 2006 when he led the National League in wins with the Dodgers) and less than stellar years (like last year when he led the league in losses and posted a 5.05 ERA with the Braves.)

And I kept bouncing between fun moments and agonizingly petty and passive aggressive crap with my girlfriend. Eventually I got out of it. She broke up with me and found a new guy to torment.

After last year, I thought Lowe was at age 38 done.

And here we sit in 2012 and Lowe entered today's game with the most wins and the lowest ERA in the American League with Cleveland, a new fan base for him to tease.

When Lowe had marital problems a few years ago, I read the story with great interest.
I had to see if Lowe was involved with my ex.

It wasn't her.
It's too bad.
They'd be the perfect couple.

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