Coming home to the Red Sox

I watched the Red Sox win the 2007 World Series at a party in Phoenix, where the majority of the people there weren’t Red Sox fans or really baseball fans at all. What wound up happening was that, as the game went on, it became clear that I was tuning out the rest of the party and zeroing in on the TV with maniacal force. It was probably a little off-putting. I don’t think I cared.

In going to the party, I wanted to reclaim some of the feeling from 2004, where, after we made deadline in the newsroom, a coworker and I went out to a bar that was hopelessly overcrowded and hung out with close to 200 folks who couldn’t get inside. The Red Sox are such a regional presence and such a big part of so many lives that it felt right to turn the moment into a communal one.

Living 3,000 miles away, there was no way to replicate that, and I should have known better. I should have just stayed home, maybe made a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts to get a little New England-vibe in the desert, and enjoyed Jon Lester’s Game 4 start in Colorado.

I thought about some of this last night, about life away from Boston and all the feelings of isolation that came with it. I thought about the last time I was actually in Massachusetts to see the Red Sox clinch a division championship, and realizing it was 1995 was kind of a trip. I was in 8th grade, Tim Wakefield was in his first season in Boston and I probably watched it on TV 38 alone in my room. That I can’t remember it is a little strange, but I remember so much of that season vividly that it’s probably been pushed to the back of my brain along with the clutter of Erik Hanson, Zane Smith and Mike MacFarlane.

There was a period there were Sox fans were spoiled, and trips to the playoffs and wins in October became somewhat routine, but that’s clearly not the case anymore. This team has been through Hell in the standings and the court of public opinion since Sept. 2011, and seeing them rebound so quickly and with a group that so similar to the 2003-04 squads that played with such a fury and so enjoyed doing it has been an unexpected gift.

The new faces — Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara, Mike Carp, etc. — who helped make this happen have reaped their praises and deserved all of them. But it’s more satisfying to think of the guys who survived the turmoil to see this come to light. From the 2007 Red Sox, after Lester only David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz (who didn’t even see October action that year) remain. Manager John Farrell, then the pitching coach, returned to help guide this group back from the depths.

Last night, they got to have their moment, which might be the first in a string of celebratory memories or might be the high water mark of the season. We’ll find that out next month, but in the meantime, they celebrated, they sprayed champagne and beer, they danced on the field and in the locker room and the fans got to experience it with them.

And I was alone. I had the apartment to myself last night with my girlfriend out on a camping trip, and armed with a six-pack of Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale and the internet, I watched Jon Lester go seven-plus innings en route to his 100th career win. And I watched Daniel Nava catch Uehara’s final out to put the game in the books. I didn’t go out or head over to Fenway, I just raised my glass and smiled and maybe screamed when the ball landed in Nava’s glove.

I’m back home now, and so are the Red Sox. It was a nice reminder.

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