I didn’t make time to read all the Red Sox writing in the local paper. True to what I would expect from a town like Boston, the number of articles and column inches daily devoted to the team and its epic failure of a season was voluminous. And the season was downright depressing. I admire the locals though for their willingness to yell at their own players and own team, and to boo Josh Beckett after terrible starts. I really do admire that. No one should be rewarded for consistent arrogant failure. But how a team gets to where it is now, to where it was with the high priced contracts for players giving sub-mediocre performances just baffles me. And the seats got emptier and stayed so much later into the game as the season wore on. And the papers wrote more and more about the phony sell-out streak. I’ll miss the low bellowing "Youk" that sounded so much like a low "boo" every time Youkilis came to bat, and the love everyone seems to show Papi. And I was there at the beginning of the year when the team honored Pesky before a game and talked about Pesky’s pole in right field, something I knew nothing about at the time. And that made it somewhat personal to me when he died later in the year, because I had seen this great man, this life-long lover of baseball and the Red Sox, with my own eyes. The long stories about Pesky I made the time to read.
I saw Verlander pitch not once, but twice. He was rough that second time and it was raining the entire game, but that first time was a work of art.
I came to Boston and Fenway this year as a bit of a baseball neophyte, knowing only a hint of the history of the team and field and wallowing in that ignorance for a season because it allowed me to just sit there in the outfield, or on most nights stand on aching feet along the first base side, and just enjoy the game of baseball up close beside the other schlubs. I’m still not a talker, but one night I chatted for most of the game with a guy from D.C. who was in town for work. He was originally from Philly, and was still a big Philly fan. I would save his spot and he would save mine while we made drink and bathroom runs. That stuff happens between strangers standing along the rail at a baseball game.
But there’s something nice in being at a game, talking with the out-of-towners, or watching tourists sit in Ted Williams’ red chair in the bleachers and having their picture taken, and knowing yeah, I’ll these things several times again this season, and hopefully next. It’s like giving directions to someone on the sidewalk in that it makes you start to feel at home.
So I should spend the winter becoming a local, reading about Boston history, baseball, and architecture. At least that’s the winter I imagine for myself. We’ll see what happens.
At the last game I attended, where I watched the Red Sox of Boston whip the Loathsome Yankees of New York with a walk off ninth inning single, I watched a guy hustle home for the winning run, a guy named Pedro Ciriaco who had hustled on the field all night and made two highlight worthy plays at third including a great diving catch, and as the team ran out to pile on Ellsbury for making that single as if they had just clinched a playoff spot, I turned turned my back on the field and the season that night with hope for baseball and for these horrible, lovable Red Sox.
Thursday I head to Vegas for the weekend, to hang with a couple of baseball loving guys, and in the midst of all things Vegas, we’re already planning to watch quite a bit of baseball, with emails about wildcard teams and playoffs already being swapped back and forth. And I’ve never been more excited.