Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Red Sox Return to the 2013 World Series

No one expected it to happen.

They lost more than 90 games last year with most of the same crew toiling away.  Bobby Valentine swore that he got everything he could out of the then beardless Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz.  Management claimed that it was not their fault, they brought in a GM who was ready to clean house and bring in new players.  They all said that 2013 was going to be different.  The memories of 2011 and 2012 would disappear.  No one expected it to happen.

2013 began with a whimper.  Instead of going after big free agents like Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke, the Red Sox went after the likes of Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara and Mike Napoli (remember when the Red Sox almost voided Napoli's contract because of his hip?).  They relied on comeback years from Jacoby Ellsbury and John Lackey.  They were hoping youngsters like Jose Iglesias, Will Middlebrooks and Allen Webster could play big roles in the Red Sox resurgence.  But no one expected it to happen.

Even as the Red Sox were winning games early in the season and staying with the Yankees, Orioles and the Rays in the AL East, we were looking at the likes of closers like Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey, asking if this was the shape of our bullpen. The Marathon bombing happened and the Red Sox became a galvanizing force in those weeks afterward, punctuated by David Ortiz's heartfelt speech and Daniel Nava's clutch 3 run home run at the first home game after the bombing.  The Red Sox became the thing that pulled us all together as we were grieving for those that we lost and those that go injured.  Still, no one expected it to happen.

When the Yankees and the Orioles started to fall behind and only the Rays were keeping up with the Red Sox over the course of the Summer, we were all convinced that the Rays would overtake us and we would be shut out of the Wild Card by either the Angels, Rangers or A's.  We have been trained by this particular crew that they look good on paper, but can't come together when it matters.  No one expected it to happen.

When the Red Sox started growing those ridiculous beards and made the playoffs, we were convinced that the Rays had better pitching and could take us in 5, especially if Price pitched two of those games.  We didn't believe in the power of the Beard at the time.  When we won that series to play the Tigers, many pundits thought that the Tigers big three would pitch right past us.  And to a big degree, they did.  When we won game 6, that was a huge moment for the Red Sox.  As Victorino won Game 6 with his huge home run, Napoli singlehandedly won Game 3 with his home run and Uehara won the ALCS MVP, I think all of started to believe it could happen.

Now the Cardinals stand in the way of the Red Sox's third world series in 10 years.  And I hear echoing in my head is Joe Castiglione's call "Stabbed by Foulke. He underhands it to first and the Red Sox are the World Champions.  For the first time in 86 years the Red Sox have won the World Championship.  Can you believe it?"

Sunday, October 13, 2013

What I Learned from the 2013 ALCS

When I was able to score two tickets to Game 1 of the ALCS between the Red Sox and the Tigers, my first thought was who to take.  I knew if I took C, G was going to pout and possibly start to cry.  If I took G, then C would beat the crap out of him until he was too injured to go.  The fairest way to handle this was the same way that we handled the having them pick a number between 1 and 10.  When C won that round, I began to see the tears.

Boston, MA.  7pm.  Fast forward 6 hours to Fenway Park to watch Game 1.  We got in pretty early for the game and saw the Tigers take some batting practice.  It was pretty cool to see batting practice being taken by some guys who can crush the ball.  As we stayed through the next 5+ hours, here is what I learned.

1.  People at Fenway sing at the silliest things.  Hey I get the whole crowd frenzy and sing-a-longs.  But the newest just makes me snicker.  Shane Victorino's at bat music is Three Little Birds by Bob Marley.  It stops right before "cause every little thing is going to be all right.."  Guess which 35,000 people sing that in unison.  Yup you guessed it.  Sweet Caroline, move over.

2.  David Ortiz does not hustle on ground balls.  C actually yelled at Papi to run after one particularly slow ground ball to second base.  But C really enjoyed someone yelling, "Papi, run you lazy bum!!"  He still talks about that.

3. Ice Cream is not a Good Food Choice in the Fall.  C goes one minute freezing to telling me that he wanted an ice cream.  I got him the soft serve in a helmet.  He immediately throws his helmet away.

"C, I paid an extra buck for that helmet!"  I ask with an exasperated tone

"Sorry, Dad, I was done with the ice cream and the helmet got in my way." C responds like he does not appreciate the value of money.

4.  Sweet Caroline is the Anthem of the Drunk.  C is 11 years old.  Two drunk people in front of us started to serenade C.  It did not go that well.  "I'm done with him, the 55 year old woman said to us as we started to look around the park looking around for help.  The girlfriend of the drunk 25 year old singing to C, actually fell asleep during the song.  It could not end soon enough.

5.  Terrible Towels Don't Work Here.  In Pittsburgh, yes.  In Minnesota, yes.  Red Terrible Towels for the game?  It doesn't work.  The towels started to fly around the park like beach balls.

6.  Nothing like October Baseball.  When I told C that this was the first game I had ever seen in October (meaning I had never seen a playoff game), he was astounded.  Even in 1986, he asked?  No not even then.  There is nothing like baseball with the crisp air and the electric atmosphere. 

7.  Go to these Games with your Children.  They will always remember this experience.  If you can ever take some tickets to a playoff baseball game, I encourage you to go.  It's worth it.

Go Sox!