Clay Buchholz is a fragile human being.
No doubt about it. He is fragile physically and mentally.
He pitched his first game of the 2016 season and lasted four innings, giving up six hits, five earned runs, and three walks while striking out four.
He got trashed on sports talk radio for a couple of days afterward and I mean trashed. These guys were vicious.
Scott Zolak said watching Buchholz pitch is exhausting, which is true. If a batter gets to first base you are condemned to watching Clay throw to first 104 times between pitches to the next hitter. He slows the game down so badly you could paint the outside of your entire house and come back to the same inning when you return to the recliner.
Zolak went so far as to admit that he roots against Buchholz when he starts to crumble. That is kind of funny, and also kind of revealing when you consider that a fellow athlete wants to see a hometown comrade fail.
Heavy duty, baby - heavy duty.
I find CB exhausting because I want the guy to do well, I really do. There is hope in my brain when he first takes the mound. Until he walks a couple of guys, or gives up a couple of serious hits and then gets "that look" on his face.
"That look" is a mix of fear, disbelief and the crumbling of confidence.
Here is what I don't understand. How the hell did Clay make it to this level? To "the bigs ?"
He has obviously been competing for his whole life, ever since he was a wee lad, and succeeding at it, rising through the ranks to the highest level of achievement in his sport.
I cannot reconcile a fragile ego with decades of beating out thousands of other guys, unless he was so much better than them that he had no real competition, which I find unlikely.
Still, he is here and with his well earned reputation as a China doll.
As I cringed at the verbal beating he was taking on the radio, it occurred to me that professional sports take the unforgiving side of our nature and ratchet it up to the highest, most vicious level. In this case - a lack of empathy, liberally spiced with a dose of insensitivity.
One of the talk show guys asked how anybody at any level in life could function at all with the kind of sensitivity Buchholz demonstrates.
The truth is there are a hell of a lot of people out there who are sensitive, who hurt every day, who wake up bewildered and go to bed destroyed because they cannot understand or deal with the harshness of the world and the randomness of a life.
There is a general disdain for sensitivity in our society.
Suck it up. You hear it all the time.
A bullshit comment if I ever heard one.
The truth is that most of us are hurting. Most of us have a soft, gooey center. Some hide it with a false show of bravado, which is also bullshit.
There are some genuine tough guys in the world; the rest are poseurs who bluster their way through the day and go home and drink and drug their way away from themselves.
If you are a deeply sensitive person you better have some creative talent. It seems the worlds of art and music and theater and dance and....................are worlds where sensitivity can thrive.
The last thing you want to be is a professional athlete.
I am not happy with the inconsistency of Clay Buchholz. I want him to win. I want the Red Sox to win.
I feel bad for the guy, though. I feel bad for the very public beating he takes every time his sensitive nature is exposed.
An odd thought just occurred to me. Maybe he picked the wrong profession. Maybe he made a mistake becoming a baseball player.
An odd thought indeed.
Most of us end up working jobs that we hate, jobs that are ice picks in our eyes.
You would think anyone playing professional sports was born to do so, expressing their soul for the world to see.
But maybe not.
Anyway, my point is (if there even is one) is that I feel empathy for sensitive souls. I don't like the way our society mocks sensitivity. I don't appreciate people who use a vicious veneer to mask their own vulnerabilities.
Honesty is not a strong point for the human race.
(Editor's note #1: I have verbally trashed Clay Buchholz many times in his career. I am an unworthy human being.)
(Editor's note #2: I started writing this post shortly after Clay's disastrous outing. It took me about a week because I am distracted, wandering, occasionally vacuous, and just generally distorted. BUT I had to get this in here today because Clay makes his 2nd start of the season tonight. I hope he kicks ass. We shall see.)