Pennant races


This was Paul Konerko's last summer with the White Sox.

This was Paul Konerko’s last summer with the White Sox.

It’s unseasonably warm today. As September crawls to a close and gets ready to give way to October, it’s 84 degrees in Boston, t-shirt weather that seems more appropriate for at least a month earlier.

It’s been a weird summer that way. After a brutal winter that practically wiped out spring until mid-May, there were fewer brutally hot days than New England is used to, but all the same, the summer seemed to whip by. And what started with so much hope and ramped-up expectations quickly gave way to a different kind of hope, one directed towards the future and peppered with attempts to find the good as the chaos reigned for so long.

A season that started with the Red Sox as World Series champions, with Derek Jeter in New York and Paul Konerko in Chicago and Adam Dunn bashing home runs indiscriminately ends today with none of those things happening. The Sox fell apart and traded away a number of players who were so important to a championship a year ago — Jon Lester, Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew among them. Jeter’s bat went into hiding with his already AWOL glove, but he kept his spot near the top of the order all year as the Yankees missed the playoffs again. Konerko went quiet, too, but he gave way to his successor, Jose Abreu. (more…)

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Xander Bogaerts had a team-defining at-bat in the bottom of the seventh against Detroit’s All-World Max Scherzer.

With Jonny Gomes standing on second base after a Green Monster double and down 1-2 in the count, the camera zoomed in on Bogaerts’ face, and his expression was almost a complete lack of an expression, except for something that almost looked like a smirk. It might just’ve been the way his face naturally rests, but regardless, it displayed an absolute lack of fear or panic at the situation. The Red Sox were losing 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning of an American League Championship Series game with one perhaps the best pitcher in the league on the mound, and Boegarts was unmoved. (more…)

David Price has been an ace from the beginning.

David Price has been an ace from the beginning.

Settling in for last night’s tie-breaker between the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers, I think I was running on inertia. This was an important game, the extra game tagged on to the regular season to see which of these two teams would advance to the other one-game playoff to see who had the right to enter the actual playoffs.

There’s a fatigue with all this, and early in the game, I wasn’t feeling too excited. David Price was on the mound for the Rays, Martin Perez for Texas, and neither seemed to really have it early on. But that changed, and as the game went on, Price got better. He found his command, he kept the Rangers off-balanced and, 118 pitches later, he got Nelson Cruz to ground out for the last out of the game. Texas goes home for the winter, and the Rays play on. (more…)

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. (more…)

There was Marco Scutaro, standing on second base, having just hit a double that drove in what would ultimately be a World Series winning run. He looked stern, but content. On the other side of the diamond, Ryan Theriot was popping back up from a slide across home plate, and sprung up screaming. The dugout was engulfed in anarchy.

The San Francisco Giants were now three outs away from winning a World Series. And the feeling was immediately one of inevitability. This was going to happen. Propelled by an incredible rotation, timely hitting, an MVP catcher and a rolodex of role players like Scutaro, the Giants were just minutes from capping a legendary year.

(more…)

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