Monthly Archives: October 2007

Absentee Fan

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I cannot go to the parade today. This is one of those times where being an adult really sucks. And though I have friends who’ve promised to pass on my love to Jacoby, to snag me some of that championship parade confetti so that I may keep it as a good luck charm in my wallet (same as ’04 confetti and confetti from all three Pats’ parades), and to take pictures of the boys for me, it’s not quite the same.

So, obviously, I won’t be able to write about the parade for you. But what I can do is share with you a conversation Amy and I had over email this morning:

Amy: Go to the Globe site. Go directly to the Globe site. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. The flight home photo gallery. NOW.
Me: /gives self carpal tunnel hitting “right click, save as.”

From the accompanying Globe article: //The Sox had partied hard after winning their eighth straight World Series game Sunday night – Jason Varitek carried David Ortiz on his shoulders – but their flight home was more of a family affair.//

Amy: I want pictures of Papi on Tek shoulders.

Me: Jason Varitek has to be a superhero. There is no other explanation.

Amy: No wonder he looked so tired and cranky getting off the plane. Moving must be difficult.

Me: I mean, he is a strong man. But David Ortiz is like 483 pounds of muscle and awesomeness.

Amy: And godlike superpowers. I will never get over Jacoby having his shirt signed by the players. You know he did it all shy, like he was asking them to sign his annual (because he calls yearbooks annuals) and afraid they would say no.

Me: I know and probably like Papi embarrassed him or something when he took the jersey and he announced to the plane, “Hey, our Speed Racer wants us all to sign his jersey! So fucking sign it for the man!”

Amy: And Pedroia shook his head all like “rookies, man.”

Me: Do you think Pedroia calls Jacoby “Rook?”

Amy: I think he calls him “Noob.”

Me: And then he looks at Youkilis all, “Am I right?” and Youks is just like “get back in the wheelbarrow.”

Amy: And Mike Lowell is all, “Oh here, we baked you a cobbler last night.”

Me: And then Youks says “But you’re gonna have to eat it while stuffed in the overhead compartment.”

Amy: I feel like Pedroia is his tag team in this. Like sometimes he uses Pedroia for backup and sometimes he puts him small spaces. Like a little brother.

Me: I mean, sometimes it’s necessary to have a small accomplice because it’s hard for bigger people to hide in the whirlpool and scare Varitek.

Amy: The lecture that ensues after that….epic.

Me: And Youks is all standing behind Pedroia and trying not to laugh while Mike Lowell yells at them. And Jacoby is kind of sitting wide-eyed in the corner.

Amy: And then he tells Jason Varitek he would never scare him on purpose or accident.

Me: And Bucky (Buchholz) is all behind him nodding solemnly. Pretty sure Jacoby calls Tek “Mr. Varitek” too.

Amy: Oh yeah. All of them. “Mr. Francona, sir, may I please sit next to you?”

Me: “For chrissakes, kid, you gotta tone it down a little. You’re making me uncomfortable.”

Amy: This is going on the internet, isn’t it?

Me: I can’t go to the parade. What do you expect?

I keep remembering bits and pieces of conversations we all had Sunday night. At one point, I remember us all taking bets on whether or not Mike Timlin would come into the game and, if he did, if he would have an animatronic deer slung over his shoulder from Colorado’s Bullpens O’ Wilderness.

Greta: Mike Timlin is digging that bullpen setup.

Me: I worry, though. I worry that instead of warming up, he’s hiding behind a blue spruce tree in a camo blind and lying in wait with his crossbow for an unsuspecting squirrel to happen by.

Amy: A legitimate concern.

And then I’m pretty sure I tried bargaining with Timlin and told him that if he got out of the inning (he did), that he could retire immediately and spend the rest of his days hunting Matt Clement.

I’m just saying, I’d be kind of concerned if I were Matt Clement.

So those of you who are attending the parade today, have a fantastic time. Pass along my love to the boys and take lots of pictures. If you wanted to share them with me, well my email is on the side there and I wouldn’t be upset.


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Of Men and Baseball, This Game We Play

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A friend of mine in Colorado sent me a message last night. “Congratulations,” she said. Then she went on to mention Papelbon and Varitek and their obvious, er, affection for one another. And it struck me; this friend isn’t really a baseball fan. She follows football and we occasionally talk about her Broncos and my Patriots and our mutual dislike of the Colts or Steelers or somesuch, but this baseball thing was relatively new to her. She’d been following the Rockies during this postseason run because, how could you not if you live out there? As she put it, “There’s an awful lot of purple. An awful lot.” But still, she wouldn’t have considered herself a baseball fan. And yet, here she was, discussing my team with me. Talking about my closer and my catcher by name and getting it right (which is more than we can say for Tim McCarver). And I suddenly realized how proud I was. Because people elsewhere will be talking about my baseball team. And they’ll be talking about them by name.

I would never claim that the Red Sox fly under the radar. That’s a preposterous assumption and one you’ll never hear me make. But I made the point a while back that if the Sox won this World Series, it would introduce the new guys to the world on a huge stage and their careers would begin in the brightest possible light. And we could say “Look at them! They’re our rookies! We made them!” And we did. And we can.

Just as you and I will always remember where we were, what we were doing, and who we were with, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Daisuke Matsuzaka and the gang will one day think about the first time they won a World Series, and they’ll remember Coors Field, and how the air was thin, and the champagne was plentiful and the celebration lasted for days.

There are three defining images for me last night. They all sum up this unique and wild run in different ways. The first is Ryan wearing a Bud Light box on his head (for Papelbon mojo, you understand), and breathing into a paper bag. He did this with two outs in the ninth inning, grabbing the bag as soon as Jamey Carroll’s deep, deep, deeeeeeeeeeeeep fly ball settled into Ellsbury’s glove. It was a much-needed moment of levity in a night fraught with drama and tension. Those of us assembled – Greta, Amy, and myself – laughed for what felt like the first time in three innings. We needed that. Because it’s baseball. And baseball is supposed to be fun.

The second image that’ll always strike me is the enormous, face-splitting smile on Jacoby Ellsbury’s face as the camera followed him in from left field, sprinting to join his teammates on the infield. Because baseball teams play a long season. They play a lot of games. And at every turn it seems the rookies are trying to keep their wits about them, trying to keep it all together and never admit that they might be intimidated, or frightened, or in over their heads. And even when things appear to be clicking for them in all possible ways, as with Ellsbury and the World Series he just had, they seem to be trying to keep things in perspective. As if they’re constantly telling themselves, “Act professional. Do not freak out. Keep things under control.” But then there comes that one moment, as with Ellsbury last night, when the exhilaration and excitement and months of working hard and playing with the big boys all comes tumbling out, and they can’t keep the smile in any longer. And it’s at that moment that you realize, these are just kids. Some of these guys are just kids. Some look barely old enough to shave. And the release of this, the culmination of all they’ve worked so hard for, often times, alongside their mentors, is great. And their joy is something to behold.

And finally, the third and most important thing I’m going to remember about this Red Sox World Series victory is not really about the Red Sox at all. It’s about family, or rather, the families we make for ourselves. I watched the game with friends last night, as I’m sure many of us did. Four of us came together from four different geographic regions and watched the Sox become World Series champions. Greta is from Baltimore, Ryan from New Orleans, Amy from North Carolina and myself, from New Hampshire. We all have ties to this region and this team. We all have our reasons. But these are people that, were it not for the Red Sox, I would never have cause to know. These are people I met through this crazy internet in general and a message board over at Surviving Grady in particular and these are people who have, over the past couple of years, become my very best friends. And when Papelbon struck out Seth Smith last night and the celebration commenced, we all hugged each other and screamed and poured champagne and then we all called our dads, or our brothers, or our friends back home. We called our families. And the image that struck me was Amy’s face, after getting off the phone with her dad and brother back in North Carolina. “I’m so happy about this,” she said, choking up, “but it also makes me miss them a lot.”

“Oh, pumpkin,” I said, and hugged her.

“I just miss my family,” she said.

“Me too,” I said, “But, you know, we’re kind of your second family. We’re all kind of here watching this with our second family.”

“That’s true,” she said, wiping away tears. “The Red Sox kind of made this family for us, didn’t they?”

“They did,” I said. “We wouldn’t know each other without them.”

And that, above all, is what I thank them for. Because the winning is great. The winning is fantastic and amazing. But the winning means nothing if you have no one to share it with. The winning is empty without your family.

And this family of mine – this Red Sox manufactured family – means more to me than any amount of winning and trophies could ever mean. Without this family, I’d have no one to force-feed me tequila and chips when I seem in danger of going off the deep end when I hear that Jon Lester is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. Without this family, there would be no one to calm me down and stifle the bloodcurdling screams when I saw Eric Gagne warming up in the Sox bullpen (brilliant motivational tactic by Tito, I think). Without this family, there would be no one to indulge my Jacoby Ellsbury crush or my long-standing and steadfast love for Jason Varitek. Without this family, I wouldn’t have you guys who read this every day and make me laugh with your comments and emails. Without the Red Sox, I wouldn’t have this family, and without this family, I wouldn’t have anything.

You guys make this all worth it. Because I would keep doing this if the Red Sox never won again, but I wouldn’t keep doing it without you guys. So thank you, 2007 Boston Red Sox. But most of all, thank you guys. You know who you are.

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How Sweet It Is

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“These are the best of times.” – My Dad

Congratulations to the 2007 Boston Red Sox and their fans. World champions, once again.

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Striking Distance

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

I should be asleep. I didn’t get into bed until 3 this morning. It’s Sunday and the Pats game doesn’t start until 4:15. There is absolutely no good reason I should be awake right now. Except that this morning is the morning the cat has decided that I absolutely cannot sleep past 8 o’clock. He attempted to get me out of bed by pushing his food dish all over my hardwood floors, meowing incessantly, and inexplicably running back and forth across my apartment. And when that didn’t work, he stood on my chest and meowed directly into my face, to, I assume, talk abut how awesome Jacboy Ellsbury is. On that, we agree.

So I’m up, and I’m thinking, you know, the Red Sox are one win away from winning a World Series. And how insane is that? Not because this team has surprised me in this way because, if I’m being honest, they haven’t. Sure, there have been countless times when I’ve yelled at them during the course of the season and implored them to “score runs for Tim Wakefield/Daisuke Matsuzaka, for the love of god what is wrong with you?” but really, they’ve maintained their pace, or, I guess, set the pace. But what has surprised me is how absolutely badass our rookies are.

I mean, remember during the ALDS and the beginning of the ALCS when everyone was saying that if the Sox wanted to advance, they were going to need to get production out of someone other than Manny and Papi? Huh, silly me, I thought they were talking about how JD Drew was going to have to start pulling his weight or how, god forbid, Lugo should start getting some hits. But the wee rookies have totally taken up the charge. Pedroia is in full “I don’t get no respect, everyone thinks I’m too small, I’ll show you haters!” mode and Ellsbury has seemed decidedly non-blinded by the bright lights and giant stage of the World Series. I mean, the man started the season in Double A. And now he’s going 4-for-5 and serving as the ultimate catalyst in Game 3 of the World Series. A charmed life indeed.

True or false: Every time Tito gave Ellsbury a start during the season, he found a nice note written on sturdy stationary in his manager’s office the next day?

Thanks for giving me a shot. I hope to make you proud.

Jacoby Ellsbury
(Centerfielder, Boston Red Sox)

Eventually, Tito had to tell him nicely to stop since it was appreciated but really wasn’t necessary. “Kid, you’re gonna get a lot of starts in the future. You don’t want to spend all your time writing notes.” But Ellsbury just wanted Tito to know how appreciative he was. He’s thinking maybe a nice fruit basket, or perhaps a wine and cheese assortment to thank Tito after the season is over. Mike Lowell can totally help him pick out something appropriate.

I feel like that is one of those things that I could be making up, or it could be 100% of fact. One never knows with these Red Sox, do we?

And Dustin Pedroia, wee little engine that could Dustin Pedroia talks about Ellsbury like Pedroia has been in the bigs forever and, lo! the many things he’s seen. They’d blow Jacoby’s mind. Let’s just hope the kid can keep his wits about him. The chain of command, as it were from Youkilis to Pedroia to Ellsbury is fantastic and sure to be the nexus of many bouts of ridiculousness in seasons to come. Though you’ll notice that neither Youks or Pedroia, in their endless quest to determine the speedster among them, have challenged Jacoby to a footrace. Oh, the beatdown that would commence.

So tonight, tonight could be it. Maybe not, but, you know, it could. And that possibility has me feeling a little heady this morning. Granted, that could also be the sleep deprivation, but I think it’s at least 87% baseball. So we will spend our day killing time, watching the Pats, thanking the universe that Patrice Bergeron seems to be okay and counting down the minutes until game time. Because it could happen. And it could happen tonight. And if it does, I think we should all write some nice thank you notes.

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Wonder Boys

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Okay, look, it’s late (early?) but I needed to declare exactly how madly in love with Jacoby Ellsbury I am. And look at him, validating the love and affection with the 4-for-5 and the 2 RBIs and the two runs scored. Someone loves me back, is what I’m saying. All that and free tacos to boot.

That, my friends, is a rookie who delivers. As is Dustin Pedroia, of course, who has adopted the attitude of a grizzled veteran when talking about Ellsbury which is just the best thing ever. Almost as awesome as Kevin Youkilis, dressed in full Everest climbing gear. Which, honestly, makes no sense considering that Youkilis generally has so many problems with the sweating that Fox feels bound to mention it. Maybe he just likes mittens?

Anyway, there is likely no team in sports less comfortable with a three games to none lead than these Red Sox. Because they know that’s anything but a sure thing. But things could not be better right now. And the good times keep rolling on.

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Any Way You Want It

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Yeah, that’s right, the Journey quotes are coming fast and furious now. That can only mean good things.

Above, Jacoby Ellsbury does his part to end world hunger by stealing second to ensure tacos for America! What a patriot! What a guy! Royce Clayton can get his taco now. That Jacoby, such a nice boy.

This one…this one was not easy. This one had that postseason feel to it. That “this could go completely to shit at any second” feel. This is something I’m used to. But Schilling did what he’s capable of doing and, once he got it together after a slow start, pitched a beautiful game. Of course, the Sox would be nowhere this season, or this postseason, without their bullpen, Manny Delcarmen Bullpen Band and all. Okajima, in particular, has pitched more than I often think is strictly wise, but has risen to the challenge every time. And just think, this is the guy we got to keep Matsuzaka company.

Then there’s Papelbon who is apparently also capable of some impressive gymnastic moves out there on the field should the situation require it. And I mean, the Papel-parents are completely normal-looking folks. There is virtually no indication in that picture that those people have spawned the unholy union of Nolan Ryan and Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance. (Not to mention the borderline psychotic Papel-twins.)

Curt Schilling just referred to this lethal bullpen combination as the “Papajima Show.” Hmmm, possible. We’ll take that under advisement, Curtis.

Weirdly, despite the fact that the Sox are now up 2-0, I’m more nervous now than I was after last night’s game. (Two nights ago? What day is it anyway?) Perhaps it’s the whole “Okay, so the Rockies have some shutdown pitching as well” thing and the “Coors Field is a mysterious place of legend and mystery” thing but mostly, I think, it’s because this game felt real. Because World Series games are supposed to be tight. They’re supposed to be hotly contested. They’re supposed to be pitcher’s duels. And Fox and NESN can throw stats and numbers at me all they want (not that I’m listening to anything Fox says, especially Eric Byrnes because, have some pride, dude, don’t let Jeannie Zelasko and her freaky, freaky nose taunt you like that and also comb your hair! You’re on national television!), but I know how these things can turn on a dime. So I remain cautiously optimistic.

I am, however, greatly enjoying the fact that in every commercial, the dude from Jordan’s Furniture looks like he’s about to vomit. Since they’re two Sox wins away from hemorrhaging money. Unfortunately, I won’t get my furniture for free because I didn’t buy it in the time frame but I’m not gonna pretend like I won’t be kind of amused if this happens because I’ll feel like the Red Sox are objecting to the fact that it took for-freakin‘-ever for Jordan’s to get me said furniture. Because the Sox care that my living room is inviting and aesthetically pleasing to guests, obviously.

So now, we wait a day. The Rockies are likely not stoked about having yet another day off but such is the way of things. And NESN is promising, “Coming up: Reaction from Jacoby Ellsbury.” I really hope someone has to wherewithal to ask him about Tacos for America.

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Headline Cliche-palooza!

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Okay, comments section, people. I want your submissions for most overwrought, cliched headline we’re likely to find in the national media today. I’m fairly certain headline writers all over were already wetting themselves with the puns inherent in a Sox and Rox series, and now that the Rockies were, um, rocked in Game 1, I’m certain they can barely contain themselves. So, what you got?

As for the game, I think Jen summed it up nicely when she casually mentioned to the assembled masses last night amongst the beer bottle, pizza box and buffalo wing detritus, “Did you ever think we’d be spending Game 1 of the World Series just kind of casually watching people fly out to center?”

No. No, I did not.

But apparently, I’d forgotten about Josh Beckett. Joshua Patrick Beckett who, I believe, is on some kind of a mission – apologies to the Rockies and their apparent mission from God. Greta and I were discussing the other night that it’s a good thing Beckett can throw a 97-mph fastball, otherwise, he’d likely be in prison and the owner of a fair number of restraining orders stemming from frequent bar fights he started because someone was “lookin’ at me funny.” So, you know, glad that baseball thing worked out. Furthermore, I’m glad someone (Jason Varitek) has apparently upped Beckett’s postgame sedatives as he’s managed to drop most of the profanity and even looks in danger of falling asleep. Like there are about three million things he’d rather do than talk about his utter dominance as a postseason pitcher. Like maybe that chick in the back of the room. He’d kind of like to get out of here and show her his heater if you know what he’s saying, and I think you do.

And now we read about how Beckett is embarking on some kind of pitcher outreach program and adopting Buchholz and Lester over the winter and, I guess, taking them to his Texas ranch where he’s going to teach them to spit and shoot things be better pitchers. This is either the best idea in the history of ever, or the worst. And either way, I’m going to need a NESN camera crew filming every second of it. Ignoring for a second the fact that I’m not sure Buchholz won’t suffer some severe separation anxiety when apart from his BFF Jacoby, are we absolutely certain we want these guys subjected to whatever depraved and insane rituals Josh Beckett undergoes during the offseason? What if he makes them eat pork rinds? From a pig they killed themselves? Buchholz seems like a sensitive soul. I’m not sure how this is going to go over. And then what happens when Timlin makes his inevitable field trip to “visit?” I just would not be surprised to read about a rebel band of misfit pitchers knocking over grocery stores and mini-marts using only chin-high fastballs as weapons. Which actually kind of makes them sound like superheroes. And if that’s the case, they’re going to need capes. I love capes. People should wear capes more.

Sleep deprivation, people. Catch it!

You know who else needs a cape? Dustin Pedroia. I totally wore my Mighty Mouse pajama pants last night in honor of Pedroia (oh I know you are not judging me and my sartorial choices. You do not judge mojo.) And they worked, didn’t they? Amy and I have decided that Kevin Youkilis is pretty stoked to have someone on the team to pick on since he’s tired of being the butt of clubhouse jokes and he’s not allowed to pick on Jacoby because Mike Lowell clutched him protectively to his bosom and shook his head, silently, “no,” so Youks has settled on Pedroia. And when Pedroia doesn’t get a hit or an RBI, Youks gets to push him around the bases after the game in a wheelbarrow because it’s funny for Youks and the rest of the team but Pedroia really hates it. Safe to say there was no wheelbarrow ride last night. And I’m guessing the Pedroia Strut was out in full force. As it should be. Because – and you know I’m not firing on all cylinders if I’m quoting Julio Lugo here – but “the little midget’s the man!”

Postseason baseball makes us say weird things. We can’t be held responsible. For instance:

Amy: Matt Holliday has a really pointy head.
Me: I know. I totally thought my TV was wonky.
Amy: I guess it’s a good thing that he chose a profession that relies so heavily on haberdashery.
Me: It must be nice to know that when he retires, he can open a charming shop called “Holliday’s Hats for Pointy-Headed Chaps.”
Amy: I feel like in the inevitable low-budget local TV ad for that store, he’s wearing a boa. Is he wearing a boa?
Me: I think so. Matt Holliday could totally glam rock out for Jesus.
Amy: Awwww, that’s nice.
Me: I thought so.

But it’s not just us. Fox caught Coco and Royce Clayton having, and I shit you not, the EXACT SAME discussion about the Tacos for America thing that had taken place in my apartment not five minutes earlier. We concluded, as you do, that whoever steals the first base, thus providing tacos (for America!), should really consider getting on the ballot come November.

Me: That should totally be Obama’s platform.
Greta: Tacos for America?
Amy: I feel patriotic already.

Then Colleen gave us a breakdown of the taco provisions (apparently having done extensive research), and concluded with, “Though any Taco Bell manager reserves the right to deny a patron his or her taco if they have reason to believe said patron has already had a taco.” Which, I believe, is the same point Royce Clayton was making when he said, “How you gonna come in and say, ‘I ain’t got my taco!’ You could go to every Taco Bell in the world and say that. ‘I didn’t get my taco!’ How they gonna know?

This might be the kind of stuff we talk about to avoid talking about things of import like wondering whether Good Curt Schilling or Bad Curt Schilling will turn up tonight. Because we are not naive or stupid enough to think that it’s going to be this easy the whole way through. Yeah, this is the postseason. That doesn’t tend to happen. But for right now, I think perhaps I’m just going to think about Ellsbury being Mike Lowell’s binky and how Josh Beckett’s reign of terror is really a sight to see.

Oh, and thanks to Dan for the shout out on Yahoo! That’s badass.

Headlines, people, let’s see ’em.

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