I bought one pack of baseball cards all year, and Jonny Gomes was inside. I should’ve known.
There’s a high of 59 degrees today in Boston, with a low of 51, partly cloudy, the kind of weather where I’ll pull on a flannel shirt with maybe a thermal underneath, depending on how cold it feels. And that will all be in anticipation of tonight, when I head out to watch the Red Sox host the Tigers in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
It’s been a long time since it’s felt cold for a meaningful Red Sox game. They were eliminated in short order in 2009 by John Lackey and the Angels, so the last big games to take place at Fenway in the autumn chill featured Jason Varitek behind the plate and Mike Timlin in the bullpen. And the odds against this being the season where they would be in the final four with a shot at the World Series seemed slim, to be sure.
It’s exciting, and this has been as likable as the Red Sox have been since the idiots ruled the world in 2004. Jonny Gomes led the charge on that front, not just with the beards but with the mindset of playing all-out baseball at all costs, for teammates to get to know each other and to make the most of every inning. And he’s walked the walk this year; Four of his 13 home runs have come in pinch-hit situations. The odds never seemed to matter to him, and he’s spread that fearlessness to the rest of the team. This team, of course, was never supposed to be this good.
There is a 75 percent chance that this season will end in heartbreak and disappointment for the Red Sox and, in a selfish vision, me. But at the start of the season, there was only about a 97 percent chance that Boston could finish the season with the World Series trophy, and that’s operating under the assumption of a completely level playing field where all statistical anomalies are normalized and reduced. It’s almost impossible, save for the fact that one team ends the season with a thrill.
That 75 percent is huge. Only four teams get to play for a pennant, and they’ve found themselves on top. Now it’s up to them to play as they’ve played all year, and, in my tunneled world, I just have to keep my heart out of my throat and enjoy everything that’s come so far.
That, and remember to stay warm. It’s getting chilly out there.