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The Flyby: The Hardest Goodbyes

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Hardest Goodbye - Bosoxsince89

What they said - Bosox lists a few players of great importance to Red Sox history before settling on Pedro Martinez as the player they had the hardest time saying goodbye to. Bosox gets real and talks about his own childhood, and the isolation they experienced as a result of race, expectations, and their interests conflicting with that of others. Once Pedro came to town, a lot of things changed for Bosox, as he began to realize that he could rise above a lot of the stigmas surrounding him and be great himself.

Pedro Martinez may be one of my favorites as well, and watching him leave was hard. At the time I was a newly christened fan of the Red Sox having really just begun watching the team in earnest in 2003. While I missed Pedro’s peak performance, I got a taste of what made him so excellent in 2003, which has since given me a life-long appreciation for what an elite pitcher can do to an opposing lineup.

Boston Red Sox’s pitcher Pedro Martinez throws dur Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images

I was still but a little kid at the time that Martinez (and Johnny Damon and all the rest) left the Red Sox soon after their 2004 World Series victory. Yes, Damon stuck around one more year, but it was only that one more year. To a child like myself, who was just getting into sports, the feeling of betrayal was real, and the decision to let these players go was incomprehensible. When a team wins the World Series, you don’t let that team disintegrate.

Obviously, I have since grown and come to appreciate the nuances in decisions like letting Martinez walk (the right one) and trading Adrian Gonzalez (also the right move). It doesn’t mean they hurt any less, but there are some things you just don’t see the full picture on as a kid.

For me, the player that will always hurt, similar to how Pedro Martinez’s departure has hurt Bosox, is the departure of Mookie Betts. I’ve come to terms with it. I really have. I understand why it happened. I understand it was probably unavoidable with the roster construction. It still bugs me.

If you want to read my full thoughts on that, I wrote an article last year all about it. The cliff notes version is that Mookie Betts taught me that my ceiling is only definable by me. That anyone can fly if they just put in the work and show up every day. It’s a shame he is no longer here, but the lessons he imparted will last me a lifetime.

I also feel I should probably say a few words about Andrew Benintendi, who is the most recent departure from the roster.

I think the memory of Benintendi that will always stand out to me is the obvious one. You know the one: Game Four of the 2018 ALCS against the Houston Astros. Bases loaded, in the bottom of the ninth, with the Red Sox holding on by a score of two. David Price is warmed up in the bullpen in case the game gets out of hand. Craig Kimbrel is up over 30 pitches. And while we all have an appreciation for what Kimbrel did (ed. note: Do we?), he had moments where he had us all on the edge of our seats. Up to the plate is Alex Bregman, coming off what was at the time the greatest season of his career.

To set the stage further, at this point I am pacing back and forth in our tiny apartment, sweating buckets, ready to explode in either excitement or in agony at any moment. My soon to be wife (we got married the next day. No, the game had nothing to do with our decision) is in near hysterics, having gone completely insane because of the see-saw nature of the night.

American League Championship Series Game 4: Boston Red Sox Vs Houston Astros At Minute Maid Park Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Kimbrel unleashes a pitch, and Bregman is first pitch swinging. The ball is on a laser to left field, and it seems like a guarantee the ball is going to drop and we’re likely headed to extra innings, if not a loss.

Out of nowhere, Benintendi dives, and my heart just completely stops.

It didn’t hit me that he caught the ball until he got up and started screaming. Then I started screaming, my soon to be wife started screaming, our apartment building started screaming, and I swear everything was on fire (nothing was actually on fire). The game was over, and though there was still more baseball to be played, the series was over too. In our minds, there was no way the Astros could come back from that loss. It was the single most important play of the postseason in the eyes of many, and we’d just had it go in our favor.

The high from that one play lasted us all the way through to the end of the World Series.

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

While there were better players (Benintendi actually hit pretty poorly during the ALCS) out there, he came through when it mattered most. And that is what I will always remember about him.

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