When he was on the mound, nothing else mattered.

When he was on the mound, nothing else mattered.

To illustrate why most Bostonians would have rather been willing to submit to a daily full-cavity search than to host the Olympics, consider the scene at Park Street Station yesterday afternoon around 5:30 p.m.

With hundreds (thousands?) of fans packed onto the Green Line platform on a day approaching 90 degrees with about 4,000 percent humidity trying desperately to climb onto one of the few B, C or D trolleys to Kenmore Square (never E, of course), there’s a mad rush whenever the appropriate train pulls up and the threat of collapsing due to dehydration grows with every closed door packed with three more helpless people stuffed alongside it as they shut.

It’s a nightmare. It’s not news, just an inevitable part of trying to get to Fenway Park on a weeknight. The crush has been a little better lately, thanks to the Red Sox’ decision to give everyone a breather for another season, but it was back yesterday, a reminder that this city exists on the edge every day anyway, and that people will put up with a lot if they think it’s worth it.

The desperation’s slight uptick was thanks to Pedro Martinez, who was due to have his number retired at Fenway Park. The crowds and sweat and inefficiency would be dealt with. Nothing else mattered. This was actually important. (more…)

Clay Buchholz is still dealing, intermittently.

Clay Buchholz is still dealing, intermittently.

By all other accounting of my likes and dislikes in baseball, I shouldn’t enjoy Clay Buchholz as much as I do.

He has been famously inconsistent in his career, showing the ability to be among the very best pitchers in the league at times, unable to get to the mound at others, totally lost on said mound in between. He takes a long time to deliver the ball to the plate, he occasionally gets obsessed with runners at first and sometimes he’s finicky with his catchers.

He’s reliably unreliable, walking that line between ace and bottom-of-the-rotation fodder like it was a tightrope, occasionally spilling off and falling onto a trampoline below, only to spring back up.

But when he springs up, he can be a force, and that was the case again last night as he shut down the loaded Toronto Blue Jays lineup in one of the many games the Red Sox can’t afford to lose if they want to stay relevant in the 2015 pennant chase. (more…)

Here's Fred Lynn, in a uniform a lot of people don't remember him wearing.

Here’s Fred Lynn, in a uniform a lot of people don’t remember him wearing.

At this very moment, I’m not watching baseball. The Red Sox are hosting the Angels at Fenway Park and apparently Mike Napoli has already hit a home run, but I don’t think watching a game is in the cards for tonight.

Instead, I’m sitting here, reading about other experiences loosely tied to the game and listening to Elvis in my newly rearranged living room, realizing that I’m not quite writing about the game, or anything else, with the kind of frequency I’d like. I still write enough, in whatever that sense may be, and I’m still following along, watching as Hanley Ramirez tries to hit through a bad shoulder and the Sox continue to let great performances by a suddenly rejuvenated starting rotation fall by the wayside. They’re struggling. It’s reality and it’s not ideal but I’m comfortable with that.

But it’s in this moment that I wanted to write about baseball, even if the urge to watch a game they may or may not be winning is, at the moment, nonexistent. Just something to reflect on this thing that’s here for half of the year, just about always when it’s needed, always present regardless of whether or not I’m paying attention. (more…)

Josh Hamilton will try again back in Texas.

Josh Hamilton will try again back in Texas.

I’m sure a team has handled something worse than the Angels have handled Josh Hamilton’s relapse, but it’s not coming to mind at the moment.

Hamilton, a recovering drug addict with the unusual skill of being able to hit a baseball into the middle of the Pacific Ocean, has been traded from the Angels back to the Texas Rangers for basically nothing. The Angels will pay for the honor of not having to deal with him, in the apparent hope that he completely falls apart as a human being and becomes a destructive force on his new team.

If that seems a little cold, it should. Like most sports teams, the Angels talk a big game about how their organization is a family, but like few teams, they turned their back on an adopted family member quickly and brutally.

(more…)

Mookie Betts certainly knows how to make an entrance.

Mookie Betts certainly knows how to make an entrance.

In the second inning of Fenway Park’s Opening Day, Mookie Betts came to bat with Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon on base and sent a pitch that ricocheted off the third row of seats above the Green Monster. It was 4-0 so quickly that it felt like Pedro Martinez’s ceremonial first pitch was the one Betts rejected over the wall.

It’s served as a microcosm of his ascent from promising minor league infielder to starting center fielder for the Boston Red Sox in just one calendar year. He’s shot past so many other highly rated prospects to force his way onto the roster in the middle of a lost season last year, and today, he kept adding to his myth. It feels like he’s a character out of every sappy baseball script. He’s feeding every trope and cliche, smiling and hitting and leaving everyone wondering if this is history unfolding. (more…)