April 2013


At this point, every David Ortiz card could just say "Red Sox," no other name required.

At this point, every David Ortiz card could just say “Red Sox,” no other name required.

On Sunday afternoon, David Ortiz came to the plate in the seventh inning with one out and Daniel Nava standing on second base. The scoreboard above the centerfield bleachers had his line for the game along with his current stats.

I was in the standing-room section above Fenway Park’s right field when a fan next to me noticed something.

“Hey, look at that. His average fell to .500 today.”

Within a pitch or two of that quick little comment, Ortiz ripped a pitch into the corner below us. Nava screamed around the bases, and Ortiz trotted into second with a little less vigor. He’s been on a tear since coming back from a heel injury to start the season late, and where he might’ve tried for a triple a few years ago, he had to settle for the double and a 6-1 lead over the Houston Astros. (more…)

Coco Crisp is just one of several links between the Red Sox and A's.

Coco Crisp is just one of several links between the Red Sox and A’s.

A buddy from my tumultuous stay in the Phoenix area gave me a call just before Felix Doubront’s first pitch yesterday to the Oakland A’s. He had stationed himself at a bar on a night off to catch his hometown A’s, and since they were playing my Red Sox, he wanted to catch up, talk baseball, all that.

We text back and forth a bit on whatever might be happening, whether it’s a baseball game or a rock show or, occasionally, drinking. Perhaps more than occasionally drinking on the weekends. But he gave me a call, knowing I’d at the very least be tuning in and, maybe, would even be catching the game at Fenway Park.

I didn’t make the trip to the park yesterday, but I’ve always like watching the A’s play, for any number of reasons. I like that, whether through personal convictions or financial restraints, they build their teams the right way — through the draft and augmented with character free agents, not the other way around. I like their green-and-gold color scheme enough that I stole the colors for the logo of my fantasy baseball team (and I am enough of a nerd to make such a logo). (more…)

Boston

As I sit here, the Red Sox are on the road, taking on the Cleveland Indians, wearing black bands on their sleeves in order commemorate the victims of the horror show that took place in Boston yesterday.

I don’t know how to cope with something like this. I know that I was at work, a rarity on Patriot’s Day, but that if I hadn’t, I might’ve been down at Kenmore Square, hanging out at the Baseball Tavern or the Lansdowne Pub watching the Red Sox matinee with the Tampa Bay Rays. And after the game, yeah, maybe I would’ve walked down with my friends to Copley Square to take in more of the race.

I do know that on Sunday, I had a great day at the park. More than a dozen of us bought tickets on the right field roof deck at Fenway Park, and as I scored along, I noticed that Clay Buccholz had a no-hitter going through seven innings. After quietly noting that to a couple of my friends with particular baseball savvy, I thought to myself how Buccholz has a tendency to pitch well when I’m in the stands, and how, even with a cold wind blowing in, that there’s nothing quite like being in Fenway when the Red Sox are rolling along.

When I didn’t live in Massachusetts or even along the Red Line, I always wore my love of Boston on my sleeve, and often quite literally. I displayed my pride in the city with stories of hanging out in Quincy, or with my affinity for Dunkin Donuts coffee, but most commonly, I got to do it with sports. I’d wear my Bruins jersey often. I’d bring a Red Sox cap everywhere. I wanted people to know that Boston was a part of me, and that I never really wanted to leave.

I’m back here, and the only thought I could muster in the moment, beyond the terror and the fear and the sadness, was how proud I was and always am of Boston. It can seem like a loud, boorish place to outsiders; everyone’s loud, no one knows how to drive, every other word out of our mouths seems to be “fuckin’” or “bullshit” or “asshole.” But it’s a well-worn exterior. This area is really a family; it’s more a community than a city, displayed in the way that in addition to Boston and its neighborhoods — Roxbury, West Roxbury, Dorchester, Southie, the South End, Eastie, the North End, Charlestown, Beacon Hill, Allston, Brighton, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, Mattapan, etc. — the surrounding community is just as much part of Boston. With few exceptions, if you can call Quincy, Braintree, Cambridge, Somerville, Newton, Watertown, Dedham, Medford, Milton, Arlington, Lexington, Concord, Woburn, Winchester, Reading, Chelsea, Everett, Weymouth or any number of small towns and cities I’m not thinking of right now home, then you’re from Boston, too.

And that much was obvious in the immediate aftermath. The stories of people putting themselves in harm’s way to help others, runners running to hospitals, folks opening their homes to those displaced, they’re numerous and real and heartbreaking. We were always in this together.

And so, here we are. Some of us were down at Copley yesterday, some of us were at work, some of us were watching on TV. Some of us know people who were hurt or killed. Some of us were those people. But we’re all in this together now. And we’re all trying to pull together and move on.

So tonight, the Red Sox are playing, and it’s an hour or two of distraction. And they’re playing for their city. It’s a small thing, but right now, it feels good. It’s a start.

Jackie Bradley Jr., blowing bubbles and playing ball.

Jackie Bradley Jr., blowing bubbles and playing ball.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t detail just how much I’ve enjoyed the dawn of the Jackie Bradley Jr. era in Boston, now two games and a Grapefruit League season old.

It’s more than just the play, which has ranged from promising to stellar through the spring and this opening series in Yankee Stadium. It’s more than the calm he exudes when he steps to the plate, when he trots out to left field or when he hangs in the dugout blowing bubbles and studying pitchers, though that all plays a part in the excitement.

He’s exciting, and he’s already helping the renewal process in Boston. Having a flair for the game and translating that into wins is always an easy path to success and likeability in New England. (more…)