Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Penguins and Polarbears

This is the first entry in a series of mini essays I plan to write as I think back over the last five-and-a-half amazing years in Boston sports...

The 2004 team was more exciting, more dramatic, more over the top, more everything really. I probably feel that way because of what they did, but I just remember that being a really electric August, September
and October. That's a team, a time, and a feeling that will never be matched. It's like hearing a song you love performed live for the first time. That song will never, ever sound the same to you again, as long as you ever hear it. You will hear that song in the mall twenty years from now, and you'll know it's the album version, but in your head, you're back in the pit screaming along to it for the first time with the band all over again. That's the 2001 Pats and the 2004 Sox for me. Those songs will never sound the same ever again.

And yet, those are songs that you never get tired of hearing. That's why the Pats other two Super Bowls and this year's Series are so great. They're like the megahit songs that the band gets tired of playing, so for awhile they've stubbornly refused to include them in the setlist. Then, out of the blue, they decide to play that song again, live and loud and fast, and you go just as crazy as you did the first time you heard it in person. It's not "new," but it's still pretty fucking exciting. You even think for a moment it sounds better than the first time you heard it. But you actually appreciate it more now, because you know how much better it makes the show. You hear notes you didn't hear before. You watch the drummer's technique instead of the crowdsurfers. You take it all in, because last time's memories are more blurry abstracts than focused photographs. You want to remember it more this time, because as you know, they don't play this song at every show.


Monday, October 29, 2007

So Different...

Well, I'm still at work, waiting for these two jackasses to finish cleaning the exhaust hood system in the restaurant. Now that I've had a couple hours to reflect on the Sox winning it all AGAIN!!! I just feel lonely.

Part of what makes being a Sox fan so great is the instant camraderie you feel with every Sox fan you meet. Every time I was in DC, Ireland, Pittsburgh, wherever, as soon as you see those two red socks on a hat, you just kind of nod. It's like a gang sign almost. We're in this together. I feel you, brother.

Experiencing the 2004 Series win, with all my closest friends and family around me was amazing. Experiencing the 2007 Series win, by myself, well, it's not the same. I'm a jump-around-huggin'-high-fivin'-going-crazy-where-are-the-shots-I'll-be-home-at-5am kinda guy. That's just me. It's tough to be that guy when you're the only Sox fan in the room.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I Told You I'd Save Something Special For Post # 200...

The Boston Red Sox are the 2007 World Series Champions.

Mike Lowell is the 2007 World Series Champion MVP.

I love this team. I hate that I ever doubt them, but I guess old habits die hard. To those of you who keep the faith more than me, thank you. You lead the way down a road that gets easier to follow every day. This is a team in every sense of the word, and I think that all of us who talk about the Sox every day make a pretty good team, too. So thank you to all of you who read my pessimistic ramblings. You make it all worthwhile, even if I'm the only Sox fan I know in Pittsburgh.

Sleep tight everyone!

Bring on the Colts!

Lifelines






update

10:46PM
Is it striking anybody else as eerie that in '04 we swept the Angels, won the last three games (plus) of a seven game series, took a three games to none lead and a 3-0 lead into the seventh inning of game 4? This is sounding familiar to the rest of you, right?

10:48PM
Ok, never mind. It's 3-1. I'll shut up now.

Enjoy It For Me...

To all the diehards out there:

Please enjoy the Red Sox game tonight. Drink lots of beer, and for cryin' out loud, someone raise a Jameson's for me. I am at work, and will be until probably 12:30am. So barring an extra-inning game, or a really long one at least combined with a little luck, I will most likely hear the end of tonight's game, win or lose, on the radio, in our office, by myself. Just like some old guy in a home in Florida or something. So please, drink a lot, set something on fire, punch a Yankees fan in the neck; just do something. And when you're doing it, spare a thought for ol' MattySox. He'd really appreciate it.

Thanks a bunch,

MattySox

Friday, October 26, 2007

I Listen So You Don't Have To...

I'm sure nobody else was listening to ESPN radio at 2:40am, so you probably missed this...and granted, I didn't actually see the Holladay pick off with my own eyes, just heard the call on the radio, but this very bitter caller from San Diego cracked me up:

"Ok...let's talk about that pick off play...I think Holladay got closer to first on that than he did to home plate in the one-game playoff against the Padres..."

And without having seen ol' Matty H get picked off in Game 2, I have no doubt that that guy speaks the truth...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Whooooooah! We're Halfway There!

Take Papelbon's hand, and we'll make it I swear...

Seriously.

Schill=Awesome. Oki=More Awesome. Paps=Most Awesome.

It's been a little hard for me to keep up with the games via Gameday, and ESPN radio while at work the last two nights, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. There is a certain drama that the radio provides that TV can't. Hearing Jon Miller freak out when Holladay got picked off was super sweet, and I can't imagine it was more dramatic on TV. Kudos, and I can't believe I'm saying this, to Jon Miller for hitting some nice notes during the key moments of the first two games. Still too much nonsense from him and Joe Morgan, who's been at his Sox-doubting, NL-ass-kissing most gruesome thus far. But, as I said, I'll take it. Better than just catching highlights on Sportscenter later...

Off to Denver we go and here's to hoping we've seen the last of Fenway until we raise another banner on a sunny April afternoon...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Far Behind

You can take your "Dirty Water." I'll let you have your "Sweet Caroline." I'll even spot you your "Shipping Up To Boston." The official song of the American League pennant winning Red Sox, for me, is "Far Behind" by the almighty, never-been-better, Social Distortion. The song is off of their new greatest hits record, and I've heard it at least once every day going to or from work during the ALCS. When I left work tonight, I was listening to the post-game stuff on 1250am, ESPN radio here in Pittsburgh. Finally, as I got closer to Butler, the signal faded and I switched to 105.9, the X, and sure as shit, that song was just starting. So, before some personal messages to those near and dear to me, I dedicate the following second verse and chorus of "Far Behind" to the Indians, with undying gratitude to the Red Sox for making this my new favorite song....

So I'm pulling up the weeds, I'm taking stock
You talk the talk but can't walk the walk
Your narcissistic ways have got the best of you...
I'm leaving you to sink, in all your glory
For you and me, it's the end of the story
Get out of my way
I've got better things to do

I'm leaving you, far behind
I'm leaving you, far behind
Stop wasting all my time
I'm leaving you far behind!
Yeah!

To Kim, I miss you more at times like this you'll ever know; Thanks for the texts and enjoy the series...

To Micky Finn, I hope I see the Ebbitt sooner than later!

To my wife, I can't promise I won't wake up the kids and huddle them on my lap if victory is imminent...

To Jere, who was there, I am a jealous, happy bastard...

To Joan, if you're still checking in, sometimes the road to victory goes all the way from Hopkinton and Brockton to DC and the Burgh...keep dropping them R's!

To anyone who ever reads this blog, I hope your faith is stronger than mine is sometimes...keep reading and keep believing...

And finally, to the Red Sox...Fuck "Rock-tober"! Let's go Sox-Tober!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

O-Face

Oh, Kim, we are very, very alive...

Oh, Josh, I hope we don't need you tonight...

Oh, Curt, you did it again...

Oh, Tito, stick with Jacoby...

Oh, JD, $14mil for 5 ribbies seems reasonable now...

Oh, Ebbitt, get a whisky ready for ol' Matty...

Oh, why do I have to work tonight?!

Go Sox!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Simple Answers

Yes, Kim, we are alive...

Yes, Josh, I take back everything I said last season...

Yes, Curt, I believe in you this one more time...

Yes, Tito, take Coco out of the lineup...

Yes, JD, you still suck...

No, Ebbitt, we're not done by a longshot...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"So Who Cares?"

So, like, are the Red Sox done yet, or what? Am I the only one who doesn't think this feels like '04 at all? I don't feel as hopeless as I did before game 4 in '04, but that's only because we won the Series that season. If we hadn't won it then, I would have disappeared into a deep, dark abyss after Tuesday's game faster than Manny can make a complete ass of himself on national tv (was I the only one who was waiting for Joe Buck to pull out the ol' Randy Moss ass-on-the-goalpost reaction after Manny's homer? "This is disgusting! We can't even show that again!" Probably...)

Remember the whole "How will winning a World Series change Red Sox fans?" nonsense? I didn't think it had changed me. And maybe it hasn't, but I'm not nearly as sick to my stomach about being down 3-1 as you'd think. Maybe it's because I've barely seen any of the playoffs so I'm not really locked in to the series, or maybe because I'm so worried about finding a daytime sitter for the kids, or maybe it's because I'm nervous/anxious about the house we're buying. I don't know. But this feels different. After game 3 in '04, I felt as bleak and hollow as sports had ever made me feel. There was a fatalistic pall over my apartment that Sunday leading up to game 4. Maybe playing someone who's not the Yankees makes it feel just that little bit less like life and death. Or maybe it's just realizing that, ya know what? The Indians are a pretty fucking good baseball team. And despite our being tied for the most wins in baseball, we have too many holes, all of which are being exposed now.

Let's face it- these were our shortcomings throughout the season: inconsistent starting pitching after Beckett; inconsistent bullpenning after Paps and Oki; inconsistent and often nonexistent production from the 6-9 spots in the lineup; a stubborn, "players' manager" with no sense of urgency or willingness to "panic." Well guess what we've seen in games 2-4? All of the above. So really, none of this is a surprise to me. Now granted, during any given span of the regular season, all of those issues rarely synced up, so it was easier to hide them as flaws. When the 'pen struggled, the offense picked it up. When starters couldn't find the sixth inning, the 'pen was lights out and somebody would get a key hit. When the bats were quiet, the pitchers did their thing. Now, not so much. Our patience at the plate is being exploited now that Tribe pitchers realize strike one is virtually free. And by the time our hitters adjust, it's too late and they're too anxious (Mike Lowell in the ninth of game 4 being a huge example).

So here we sit, with our $9mil shortstop doing nothing in the nine-hole, our $14mil extra-base-hit-less right fielder relegated to platoon duty and our all-D/no-hit center fielder sinking like a stone. Oh, and our $103mil pitcher getting 14 outs. Not to pile on what Shaugnessy said this morning, but man, that's a lot of dead weight. Amidst all this, there's no way to get Jacoby a start, or Alex Cora, or someone, anyone who actually plays like they care? I'd rather lose with those guys than the boulders we've been tying around our waists. Tito says that to not be loyal to the guys that got you here is cheating the players. Well last time I checked, the players don't pay you, Terry. The team does, and the fans do. It's about time somebody worries about not cheating US.

I just found out the Street Dogs are playing in Pittsburgh tonight. I'd almost rather see that than watch the game, but we're broke, and I'm tired and in no condition for a night in the pit. So I'll watch the game, of course, but I'm not ashamed to admit that if it's looking bleak, I'm not gonna ruin a night off by letting myself get depressed over a baseball game. I'll put on a movie with the Punkymom and pick up tomorrow's paper. If the news is good, then great. If not, then "who cares?" as Manny said yesterday. Just wait till next year. If he doesn't care, then fuck it. Why should I?

Monday, October 08, 2007

And he'll ask, "Dad, was it always like this?"

So going to the top of the ninth inning of tonight's Indians-Yankees game, my wife, who had gone to bed a little earlier, brought my son out to the TV room because he had woken up and didn't seem ready to go back to sleep. So he and I snuggled under a blanket on the couch, while my Red Sox hat sat on the shelf next to the sofa. As the game quickly made its way into the bottom of the ninth, my son climbed across me and grabbed my hat (something he and his sister both love to play with) and tried to put it on my head. So he and I sat there, him in his pajamas and I in my cap, preparing the Yankees for a long winter's nap. No, seriously, we sat there and watched as Jeter was retired, then Abreu went deep (my son seemed much less worried than I was), then A-Rod flied out and finally, sweetly and unartistically, Posada flailed at strike three in the dirt and the Yankees were once again eliminated in the first round, their biggest bats having long since gone quiet in this not even close series, while their biggest arms, save Pettitte, proved ineffective as expected. I took my son back to our room, gave him to my wife and came upstairs to put up the obligatory "Yankees Lose!" post, all the while remembering how my dad got me out of bed to watch the Sox win the series in 1986, and how I've always wondered how I'd handle a similar situation with my own kids. And while it wasn't my intention to have my son watch the Yankees fail yet again, and while he'll no doubt never remember any of it, part of me wishes he would. I think he'd appreciate it some day.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I Guess This is Growing Up

Remember how excited I was to watch a "whole" Red Sox game? Yeah, well, not so much. Thanks to both my exhaustion and the super comfortable recliners in my in-laws sunroom, I think I fell asleep about three times during the game. Some fan, huh? I did see Manny and Papi do their thing early, dozed off during the first two runs in the eighth, but caught the rest of the piling on and then the eventual pile on. Good times, man. That was about as calm as I've ever been during a Sox playoff game. We've got so much else on our minds right now, and I'm getting used to this later work schedule and we were out all morning looking at

THE HOUSE WE'RE GOING TO BUY!

We think we've found it. It's, as the Punkymom said, "[our] dream house." More details to follow, cause I don't really want to jinx it. Suffice it to say, we have a preliminary deal done but we need to finalize all the details. But it's pretty sweet...

Anyway, wasn't ever really stressed about this Angels series. I don't know if that's because I've had so little time to devote to worrying about anything regarding the Red Sox or if I just knew that we own them. Either way, I haven't really lost a moment's sleep over this series. And you know what, I'm not sure I will over the next series either. It's not a lack of caring, or a sense of arrogance that's leading me to say that. Maybe it's just a sense of perspective. Pretty annoying this time of year, but what can you do? I just can't be as single-minded about any one thing, like the Sox, as I used to be. And yes, you can remind me that I said all this when I'm pulling my hair out and trying on six different caps in the thirteenth inning of a 1-1 ALCS game six...But until then, I swear I'll be cool...

And, oh yeah, these guys are pretty good, too...

Anti-Anaheimlich

I finally get to watch a whole Red Sox playoff game today! Yay, me. After only seeing an inning and a half of the series so far, I get to watch it in all its (hopefully) clinching pig-pile glory this afternoon.

I will tell you this: I guess the Red Sox Empire extends its tentacles even into Pittsburgh. I say that because when Manuel put on his Papi costume on Friday night, the cheers were loud and long at the bar across the street from my new restaurant. Plus, awesomely enough, there was a guy in a Yankees cap behind us who my new Sox pal, and executive sous chef, Danielle was taunting mercilessly during breaks in the action. And he just stood there and took it. Because when your season comes down to a bug-covered Fat Jub-Jub, really, what is there to say? So, today, let's make the weird scenario of four first-round sweeps happen. Then we can all relax till the middle of the week. Ok?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Overwelmity

My new restaurant doesn't have a tv. So, consequently, on my first day at work at my new job, the Red Sox, naturally, were playing their first playoff game. Duh. Fortunately, they did fine without me watching, and I, too, did fine, presumably without them watching. But we've got each other's backs, believe that...

Actually, I haven't even seen any highlights yet, I've just read all the coverage in the Globe. And please, somebody fill me in: why did CHB hate the Monday Rally so much? He's been knocking it for days...Saw Jere's pics from it, read the article, sounded like the same old, same old. Dr. Charles needs a few new numbers in the rolodex, obviously, but jeez, Dan, lighten up. Was he mad that nobody asked him to speak at it? "Remember, Red Sox Nation, the curse of the Angels isn't over until a ball doesn't bounce off of Dave Henderson's glove and over the wall in Anaheim...that's the only way the Curse of the Autry-bino can be lifted..." Yeah, too bad, Dan, that Tony Armas hurt his ankle...that Hendu thing didn't work out so good...

Anyway, I won't see game two tomorrow night, but I will be home to see game three on Sunday. Hopefully that's all the Sox'll need, although I'm also off Monday for a possible game four, and heaven help us if it goes this far, I'm off next Wednesday for a possible game five. Although that's where it gets tricky, since I'm holding a pair of tix for a possible Indians-Yanks game five at the Jake next Wednesday, which I only bought on the slimmy chance that the Indians would be playing the Sox with home field advantage. But what I'm hoping for is for the Sox and whoever to win in no more than four, giving me a refund on my Indians tix, and allowing me that Wednesday free to go the Pens-Canadiens game that night with my brother-in-law. But whatever. If there's a game five at the Jake, I'll be there to root against the Yankees. Unless the Sox are in a game five, then I'll stay home and watch it. We'll see. I'm getting ahead of myself again.