At one point, this was Alex Gordon.

At one point, this was Alex Gordon.

I meant to write something — not quite this — before the start of what seems like a wholly improbable World Series, though any cold, rational look at it will show that it’s anything but that. These are two teams built to win in their own ways, one through young, powerful pitchers and the other on speed and opportunism. It’s only a surprise because we endlessly associate everything with the words and colors on their shirts and hats.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. The laundry is what pulls everything together. It’s how we tell who’s who in the stadium, and those stadiums are usually coordinated to match. So it’s natural that we associate decades of losing and ineptitude with the uniforms of those who carried out those sullied legacies.

It’s the uniform that’s the reason for the card posted alongside this piece, mostly because I don’t have a lot of cards of the current members of these teams. As feverishly as my baseball card collecting came back around 2010, so too it went shortly after. So here’s Alex Gordon, back when he was a clean-shaven third baseman and thought to be a disappointment, not the lynchpin of a free-swinging group of relative youngsters. (more…)

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox

I missed Rich Hill’s latest gem — a complete game shutout over the Orioles at Fenway Park, with 10 more strikeouts, just one walk and an insane amount of goodwill pushing him. He’s a hometown guy, he’s been to hell and back personally, and professionally he’s making an unthinkable run through September as part of the patchwork Red Sox rotation.

I missed it because I went to a fancy dinner with my girlfriend after work. I got to have a nice drink and a nice meal on one of the first truly crisp fall days in New England. I wore a sweater and still felt a little chilly when I was outside. (more…)

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…)