Thursday, September 27, 2012

The lights are off

I was at Fenway last night wearing a short sleeve authentic Red Sox home jersey, #28.  Not for the departed Adrian Gonzalez or the retired Doug Mirabelli, but for my daughters.  They both wore #28 when they were on the varsity softball team at Wellesley High.

What was strange was wearing short sleeves and no jacket for the final home game of the year.  When you're there watching the 9th inning of the last home game it's supposed to be well into October.  Preferably the last week.  You should be wearing a ski cap and shivering while you're holding a Dunkie's hot chocolate and wishing you'd remembered to bring gloves.

But no.  I went with my older brother Hugh, who had also gone to Opening Day with me.  He and I have been going to Fenway since way back when Ted Williams was still playing.  Seriously.

Speaking of Ted, they announced the All-time Fenway team last night, and most of the living players showed up for the event.  Even Roger Clemens, who skipped the 100th Anniversary event in April because he was afraid of getting booed.  No one booed him or anyone else last night.  Not even Bobby V.  They all got big cheers.

All-time starting lineup:  Jimmy Foxx at 1st, Pedroia at 2nd, Nomah at short, Boggs at 3rd. Teddy Ballgame in left, Fred Lynn in center, Dewey in right.  Fisk catching, Papi is DH.  On the bench you have Yaz (seems odd, but you gotta have #9 starting in left), Rice, Pesky, Bobby Doerr and Varitek.  Starting pitchers include Babe Ruth, Smokey Joe Wood, Jim Lonborg, Luis Tiant, Bill Lee, Roger, Pedro and Schilling, with Wakefield, Radatz and Papelbon in the pen.  Tito, of course, is the manager.

Good start to the game itself.  Lester had a no-hitter into the 5th inning, and I was thinking that it would be pretty ironic if Lester threw his second no-hitter on a night like this when it didn't really matter.  Naturally I was careful not to mention it until he gave up a single.  Just as I was saying, "There goes the no-hitter," the next pitch went sailing into the Monster Seats, and that was also it for the shutout and the one-run lead.

Quite a few fans departed early, but in the middle of the 8th there was still a lot of loud singing and hamming it up for "Sweet Caroline" because you never know if you'll get on the Jumbotron.  In the bottom of the 9th there was an impressively loud, "Let's Go Red Sox, clap, clap, clap-clap-clap," from the remaining faithful hoping for an unlikely walk-off miracle.  

We stayed until the bitter end, a 4-2 loss.  The melancholy We Just Lost organ music played, and as we headed out it occurred to me that, despite going to over 30 home Sox games this season, I'm pretty sure I only heard "Dirty Water" play one time.  A day game in August when, of all things, Dice-K won.

Hope will spring eternal on April Fool's Day, 2013 at Yankee Stadium.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sox eliminated - for whom do we root now?

The Red Sox were officially eliminated on Sunday afternoon.  Certainly not a surprise, but for whom do we root at this point?

The obvious first answer is Anybody But The Yankees.  Either league, any division, doesn't matter.  Just not the Yankees.

Oakland is doing well with a limited budget, just like in Money Ball.  Of course, those Money Ball teams in the early 2000's kept getting knocked out in round one of the playoffs.  The A's last World Series win was in 1989.  The Earthquake Series against the Giants.  They'll be a Wild Card this year.

My American League choice, however, is Baltimore.  I used to live there, my younger daughter was born there, the O's have a very good history, and Camden Yards is a great ballpark.  Their last World Series win was in 1983.  Last playoff appearance was in 1997 when the kid in the right field short porch at Yankee Stadium leaned over the railing of the 8-foot fence and grabbed a catchable fly ball.  The Orioles were cheated out of a World Series appearance.  Had they gone to the Series and won they'd have been the only team to win it all in the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's.  It didn't happen, and they've been horrible since - until this year.

In June my niece Charlotte graduated from Wellesley High School, where I went, both of my daughters went, plus a sister-in-law, a nephew and another niece.  The featured speaker at the commencement was David McCullogh, son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the same name.  An excellent speech entitled, "You are not special" that went viral this summer.  In the speech he mentions that the majority of marriages fail, and that marriage does worse than the Baltimore Orioles.  Clearly he wrote this speech in March, before the Orioles, under the new leadership of Dan Duquette, made an amazing turnaround.  Dan has got to be loving this.  So Baltimore is my AL choice.

In the NL, I have to go with Washington.  The last time that Washington had a World Series winner was 1924.  That's 88 years ago, longer than the Red Sox 1918-2004 drought and as long as the White Sox 1917-2005 drought.  To be fair to DC, they had a 32-year gap with no MLB team, from 1972-2004.  But if you fill that gap with either the last team that departed DC (the present day Texas Rangers) or the franchise that became the Washington Nationals (the former Montreal Expos) you still have the winless streak intact, as neither of those teams even made the World Series between 1972 and 2004.  And the Nationals haven't yet, but are threatening this year.  Good for them.  At 88 years Washington DC has had the longest wait any of city.  (Cleveland is second on that list at 64 -I'm counting 2012 as the Indians are already eliminated.)

A Beltway Series - maybe they'd call it a BWI Series, or a BW Parkway Series - between Baltimore and Washington would be fun.  I'd be happy with either team winning it all.  Just not the Yankees.