Monday, October 20, 2008

Breakfast With the Hysterics!


Appropriately enough, it was over breakfast this morning (at Starbucks, natch) that I overheard the following exchange:

Guy 1: Well, I guess it's officially football season.
Guy 2: After last night, yeah.
Guy 1: I'm happy for Tampa Bay, you know?
Guy 2: Me too. And at least we made it interesting.
Guy 1: Yeah.

The brevity of this conversation belies how oddly powerful it was -- these were two men in their late 50s or so, mind you, both with thick Boston accents, who'd clearly been Boston fans for decades. The kind of men who, like my dad and uncles, probably remember going to see the Boston Patriots play at BU's Nickerson Field and watching the Bruins win their last Stanley Cup. Here it was, the morning after a heartbreaking Game 7 loss to Tampa Bay in the ALCS, and it was all par for the course for them. They'd been there. They'd seen Boston teams fall on their faces time and time again. It was just another loss to them. Time to root for the Patriots. We'll be back next season, Red Sox.

It really made me happy in a way I can't quite articulate to hear that reaffirmation: that reminder of the fact that the heartbeat of the Boston fan base thumps steadily on, whether we're screaming from the high of another championship or sitting numbly in our seats as another team moves on. This is a city that's seen the most glorious victories and the most cringe-worthy failures over the last century, and I think it's important to remember that even losses still belong to the pantheon of Boston sports moments, to be woven indelibly into the rich tapestry of lore we pass down to future generations of fans. I've expounded before on the fickle nature of fandom and the curious notion that sometimes it's the losses that make you truly appreciate your teams, and I'm fairly certain that applies today.

I am happy for the Rays. Really. You can't possibly claim to love baseball and not be happy for this team. They're proof that the system works: that small-market teams can still contend with the big dogs; that great play and inspired managing will be rewarded despite imbalances in the league's organization; that youthful vigor, hard work, and natural talent can win the day even as MLB still reels from the sordid aftermath of the steroids era; and, most importantly, that redemption isn't just a sports myth perpetuated by Dennis Quaid, but is tantalizingly and gloriously within reach for those who seek it. (Take heart, Pirates fans!) So congratulations, Tampa Bay, and good luck in the Series. I hope you beat the damn Phillies. They don't deserve it. You do.

But enough of that. I came to praise the Red Sox, not to bury them. This, after all, is a team I woke up at 5:30 in the morning to live glog on Opening Day in Japan. This season was nothing if not memorable, and I'm proposing that we open the morning by sharing our favorite Sox moments from this past season.

Here's mine: August 1, when Jason Bay made his Red Sox debut. After a tumultuous week of severing emotional ties with our beloved dreadlocked righty, I was watching this game alone in my apartment while I was getting ready to go out. Bay, ever the quiet Canadian, stepped up to bat in the second inning to a roaring ovation from the Fenway faithful in attendance. I promptly burst into tears: partly for the sake of catharsis, I think, and partly because it was just one of those moments that struck a genuine chord with the fan in me. Things change, players leave, Johnny Damon cuts his hair... Red Sox Red remains as vibrant as ever, and you go on cheering for the team you love no matter what you've lost. Whether or not you choose to buy into the fanaticism surrounding sports and their fans, I think, on a day like today, that we can all admit that there's something deeply valuable in being reminded that no emotion makes us human in quite as powerful a way as faith.

Go Patriots. Go Bruins. Go Celtics.

Go Red Sox.

17 comments:

Hazel Maes Landing Strip said...

My Red Sox moment of the year wasn't really a moment but sort of like a team philosophy. Whenever you thought a specific player was done, he would be the one to come up with the big hit. Sure we had our Youks, Pedroia's and Bays this year, but it was the other guys.

* Varitek stunning even myself with the home run in Game 6 and his improbable hot streak in July

* JD Drew tearing the cover off of the ball in April-June getting hurt, and returning to the playoffs the same clutchy Drew we all now love

* Coco Crisp. Seriously after last year I thought his career with the Sox was done. What we got this year makes me want him in the lineup EVERY GAME next year. His attitude, at bats and defense make me still feel warm

* Jon Lester our Ace of the future. After months of "oh christ Lester is pitching, 120 pitches by the 3rd inning" he has become MORE then anyone ever imagined.

*The Youngins'. Along with Lester, every new player that comes up and contributes to the team. Masterson, Lowrie, Bailey, Van Every it is just invigorating to see a farm system that is running on all cylinders.

It hurts that we lost, but this year was awesome. If you were to tell me that Beckett was going to be closer to 2006 Beckett, Ortiz would go down, Lowell would go down and Drew would get hurt I wuold have said we missed the playoffs. Thank You Red Sox for a fucking incredible year.

Anonymous said...

Yea, what you guys said.
I am not as good, but I just will remember faces...last year it was the incredible Beckett faces during the Indian series.
This Lester and no better than some we saw last night. Cool, where Beckett rages. Collected, where Beckett looks like I don't want to sit near him on a bus.
And Papelbon spraying Sager...that is a favorite!!!
Go Sox! I too pragmatically said "maybe not this year" but then you get caught up and hope and pray and get nauseous. It is great being a fan!
FMRA, we missed you at the end of the blog. Somebody thought your rack caught up with you...odd. I think you could handle any rack!
Boatdrinks

SmartyBarrett said...

The Rays are obviously going to be a force in the AL East for years to come. Is everyone as excited as I am to compete with them next year and the year after and the year after that? It's truly some great baseball to look forward to.

Also, FMRA, no "Go BC"? #23 in the country!! CHRIS CRANE FOR PRESIDENT!!!

Starting Aces said...

Dragging my friends out of bed and watching the last inning of game 5 may just be it for me.

futuremrsrickankiel said...

Sorry I peaced, Boatdrinks. I was trying to pay attention to both the blog and the game, but I felt like I needed to focus my concentration.

Thanks to you and everyone else who showed up, though!

Anonymous said...

Watching on a blog is great...when you are in a quiet house it is fun to have "a crowd" around for a good (or bad) game.
Boatdrinks

Rocco said...

At risk of "hitting" on FMRA, I remember that season opener, and her glogging that early morning game was one of the reasons why I started reading her site, and now mass hysteria and footbawful. That's dedication to your team. While I often find it difficult to bear most Boston fans (ex. my sister's boyfriend), it's been fun to follow along with some real fans. So even though I tend to play devil's advocate, and I'll be rooting for the Rays, and the Bills and Sabres will be better than the Patriots and Bruins, it was a fun year of watching the Sox.

futuremrsrickankiel said...

:)

Dubs said...

As an outsider as well, I have taken a great interest in Mass sports because of how talented this group is. Each of you brings something different and special to the table, that really makes this blog fawking sweet. I look forward to reading more of the same as the hockey and bball seasons begin.

Best moment: Live blog game 5.

Word to your mother,

Dubs

carbs said...

Lester's development this season is what I'll remember. After having to get realistic about his future during the Johan negotiations, it was awesome to see him reach ace level by the end of the season.

Maybe it's just my affinity for FD, minus strict adherence to liberated fandom.

futuremrsrickankiel said...

FD?

Shaun said...

Go all of our beloved teams, indeed. Being a fan is a great feeling, even with the disappointments that sometimes come instead of the joys of victory.

One good moment that I loved from the season was watching our Sox rebound from blowing that 10-0 lead against Texas, and Youk's eventual game-winning three run blast.

Also, got to give props to Lester's no-no.

GranDude said...

Finding this blog, via Deadspin or KSK, don't really remember, is a high point. As a 40 year fan of all things Boston sports who's been displaced on the Left Coast for the last 30, it feels like home.
On the field, it's hard to top Game 5's remarkable comeback, but Lester's no-no and general emergence as a stud rates up there, along with seeing Drew's LDS Game 2 blast live in Anaheim, and seeing Manny's last game from the SRO section under the Coke sign at the Fens. Although that was as lousy a game as we played all season...
The Japan series was very cool too, waking up at 3:30 and watching Sox/A's over coffee - surreal.
The Rays are a very good, young team, and will be around for some years if they don't get broken up over money. We've got a pretty damn good young core too, and guys like Bay, Drew and Papi all should have a few decent years left.
It was a very good season, last night precludes it from being a great one, but I do like the way these guys play together.
I'll put Mark Texeira on my X-Mas list and am already looking forward to Opening Day '09.

ballamiguel said...

I think the only thing that makes last night hurt was the general expectation for us to come back and win. How many times did we see Pokey Reese throwing to first to end the 2004 ALCS? Or the dramatics of the 2007 ALCS? TBS/ESPN helped emphasize the fact that we were SUPPOSED to come back and beat the Rays. If the Red Sox were one, free-standing human being, it would be in our DNA to come back.

It's sort of sad how pink hat Sox fans (like my sister) go to bed with away messages like "Crying myself to sleep...OMG that was horrible! :( :(" like we expect the Sox to hoist the big trophy every year, and we want to crawl under a rock and die if they don't. Get over it, we're gonna get everybody healthy/not fat and be right back in the thick of it next year.

Side note, the AL East will be as strong, if not stronger in 2009. I can't wait.

stanley cup of chowder said...

Smarty, she didn't mention BC because besides you, Doug Flutie, a few creepy priests and those tools with the yellow shirts, nobody cares about BC.

Hazel Maes Landing Strip said...

SCOC

Smarty doesn't give a shit about BC. I am the retard that bleeds maroon and gold.

stanley cup of chowder said...

FMRA, what's the deal? No preview of the B's home opener? I thought you were the hockey editor? What's going on? You could have at least gone with the lazy approach and directed traffic over to SCoC.