I watched NESN’s live Spring Training coverage last night. Basically it consisted of a tour of the new park, interviews with Bobby Valentine and Daniel Bard and a segment where we got to watch Bard shoot baskets. Some fun stuff, actually, and I’m looking forward to more.
But that was only on for an hour so I had to find something else to watch…where do I turn? The Celtics. So I’m watching the Celtics and they keep throwing it back to the studio every so often so we can see Tommy Heinsohn having an anxiety attack over the C’s losing. But when they aren’t letting Tommy go on they throw it to Mike Giardi with teases for that evening’s Sports Sunday show. Basically, Giardi began every update by mentioning that the Red Sox players aren’t apologizing for the 2011 collapse. “Waiting for the Red Sox to apologize?” was pretty much how he began each time. Now I ask you all this:
Were any of us really “waiting” for any of them to “apologize”? Because, I have to say, I wasn’t. Like many folks, I think I’m looking for answers to everything that went on that last month that I’m never going to get but to say I’m looking for an apology is off base.
It annoyed me for two reasons, one is because he did it every time they went to him and his spots didn’t seem pre-recorded (so they weren’t showing you the same piece every time) the other reason is because it just reinforces to me that the media doesn’t seem to care about what the reality of any situation is, they only want to create their own.
I know how (a lot of) you feel. You want to be excited. Pitchers and catchers report today! This is out day to be full of joy and happy and merry anticipation! But you have concerns or, worse yet, you don’t seem to care at all. You want to care, you do, but there are so many negative residual feelings left over from 2011 that you aren’t sure if you can. I have felt this same way for the entire off-season.
I went to Truck Day armed with my camera and a hope that seeing Fenway and the equipment truck would shake me out of it. I then spent many hours after that truck departed lamenting the state of my beloved team and using some very strong curse words to describe various players still wearing the Red Sox. So I get it. I know that every time you see Terry Francona on ESPN you’re going to be sad. I know that every Phillies game that Fox airs on a Saturday afternoon is going to make you want to throw things at the television every time they show Jonathan Papelbon. I know some of you are secretly hoping that every move Theo Epstein makes turns out to be an epic failure for the Cubs (maybe that last one is just me). As much as it annoys me when people say this so casually, I’ll let Cher give you my advice:
Because what other choice do you have? I can’t choose to be miserable. I mean hell, sure I can CHOOSE to be miserable but why would I? Why is so much of sports fandom wrapped up in being pro-actively unhappy? Many of the decisions made by this team lately have dumbfounded me. Some have angered me. But on April 13th, thanks to the generosity of a dear friend, my butt will be in Fenway Park freezing as it has been for many years now. Why am I going to attend a baseball game in person in APRIL* if I don’t care about the damn team? I’m not. But this year I will be there because, dammit, no matter how many Popeye’s jokes get made I want to see Josh Beckett et al lead this damn team to victory.
I am tired of being sad or, worse, indifferent about what has happened to my team. (Yes, I said “my” team. It’s my team. It’s your team too. It’s our team. I try to avoid it when writing, but I use “we” in reference to the team as well. Not going to change now.) I can choose to put all the unpleasantness behind me (yesterday’s Twitter bombing of all the Boston sports writers covering Papelbon’s press conference didn’t help that, admittedly) and focus on the new season or I can just wallow for a while. (I’ve been wallowing for a LONG while and, quite frankly, am sick to death of it.) So I woke up this morning and decided that enough was enough. I’m going to embrace this day like I’ve embraced every one of these days for many, many years now.
Pitchers and catchers report today, people. Rejoice, friends, for Spring Training is upon us!
This entry ends with the video of Mike Timlin talking about how selfless Tim Wakefield was a player…I’ve probably watched it twenty times today. It’s a wonderful testament to the type of person he is.
I missed the Tim Wakefield press conference live. Had to run out so I hit record on the DVR. As I started watching it about an hour later I immediately started crying. Didn’t even wait for Tom Werner to start talking, the tears just started to flow.
We’ve been fortunate as fans to be able to watch Tim Wakefield pitch. I don’t care if he isn’t a Hall of Fame pitcher; he’s someone you genuinely wanted to do well. He made a lot of sacrifices for the team. He didn’t let his ego get in the way of the team winning and there aren’t that many players you can say that about.
Not blogging…heck in July I’ll have seven years of blogging under my belt. But today is a baseball-related anniversary just the same: Today will be the fifth time I actually make it into Fenway for Truck Day! I thought my fifth anniversary would be a good day to share some photos I’ve taken from my four previous Truck Days!
The first year I went the equipment truck was sitting on Yawkey Way. There were genuinely more reporters than fans (if I write that there were fifty fans I’m probably exaggerating) and I got myself on a couple of Saturday night newscasts because the reporters had such a small pool of fans to interview. It was the Truck Day after the Red Sox won the World Series – again – and we were really excited for the season to begin.
I feel like I should at least make mention of the Patriots since I know many of you aren’t just Red Sox fans but Pats fans as well.
While definitely a fan of them, football is not that sport that grips me and owns my heart. I remember when they lost to the Giants LAST time that I was actually surprised at how upset I was because I can usually just enjoy the game and not obsess too much on the outcome…but that game really stung. I think the connection with other fans and with opposing fans thanks to the Internet makes these kind of losses even more difficult…no one wants to deal with the opposing fans gloating over your pain…but now that pretty much comes with the territory. So I will admit fully to dropping an f-bomb or two last night and to being disappointed with the loss. But I have a really tough time being mad or even terribly upset.
We’re fortunate to live in a region where recently professional sports has been very good to us so I can’t fault the Patriots for showing us they’re human. (But for the love of Pete did it have to be Eli Manning again?) I grew up in an era where the local papers referred to the Patriots as the “Patsies” on a daily basis and, I promise you, what we’re going through now is infinitely better than what sports fans went through back then. Maybe I’m doing this for me but I think others will benefit from it as well. Let’s remember how good we really do have it in New England:
New England Patriots Super Bowl Titles: 2001, 2003, 2004
Boston Red Sox World Series Titles: 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 2004, 2007
Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Titles: 1928–29, 1938–39, 1940–41,1969–70, 1971–72, 2010–11
Boston Celtics Championships: 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969,1974, 1976, 1981, 1984, 1986, 2008
Since the beginning of this Millennium alone, our teams have collectively won seven titles. In my lifetime they’ve won 15. The idea that any New England sports fan should hang their head is ridiculous. We have a lot to appreciate and a lot more to look forward to, so don’t let anyone make you think differently.
For all of you suffering this morning, I offer sincere condolences and I feel you pain. I know for me when the Red Sox season ended so terribly every time someone said to me “At least there’s the Celtics/Bruins/Patriots” my response was “As much as I like other sports, they don’t replace the loss of baseball for me” and that’s true. So while I lament how the season ended for Patriots fans I offer two glimmers of hope, one football-related and one not: Our team got to the Super Bowl which is more than the majority of football fans can say this year. That’s a lot to be proud of regardless of the final score. And this…Truck Day is this Saturday or, as so many of my friends with young children would say, five sleeps and a wake up and Truck Day is upon us!
The best thing about baseball is that we get 162 games to lead us into the playoffs. The football season goes by so fast that the way it ends (unless your team wins the Super Bowl) is always a kick in the stomach. As baseball fans we get to enjoy the slow burn and we get to hold on to hope for a lot longer than most other sports fans. That definitely is something worth looking forward to, isn’t it?
I’m going to write about Josh Hamilton. I promised myself I wouldn’t. Told myself to just shut up about it because everyone has an opinion and mine will probably offend a good portion of society and what purpose will it serve anyway? So I decided the safe way to go would be to just ignore what’s going on with Josh Hamilton and let everyone else praise him or bash him or whatever comes in between the two.
But that really isn’t me.
So this is your warning…as well as your spoiler alert because I can save some (most?) of you a lot of time by telling you that what I’m going to write about Josh Hamilton at the least won’t be complimentary and at worst might just genuinely offend some folks. Now that I’ve done that, I’ll proceed.
Once again, this year my friend Amy Blue has organized the Project Cupid Charity Date Auction to benefit the Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber. I’ve written before about Amy and the reason this cause is so dear to her. No one likes to talk about cancer, heck no one likes to think about it, but ignoring it won’t make it go away and each year since 2010, Amy goes out of her way to face it head on and share the story of her family’s tragedy and the loss of young Isaias Thomas Valentin who they lost to cancer just days before he reached his tenth birthday.
Instead of dwelling in the sorrow, as no one would have blamed her for doing, Amy decided to make something joyful out of something so painful with the date auction. This year, Amy has been fortunate enough to be able to sweeten the pot with the addition of a celebrity date. Red over at Surviving Grady got all the details first hand in his interview with said celebrity. So in her own words, here’s Heidi Watney:
…since I’m no longer in Boston, I can’t just be auctioned off and set up an open-ended date. So I gave Linda Henry a call and told her I’m trying to put together this date that’s going to be auctioned off and it’d be great if we could sweeten the pot by getting some great seats to a Sox game and without hesitation she said, no problem, you guys can have front row tickets. Then I called up the manager of Jerry’s restaurant [Remy’s Sports Bar & Grill] and told them about the date and asked if they could take care of us for dinner before the game and they said absolutely, no problem.
I’m in the process of turning my brain back on to baseball full-time. I’ve been working on a project that has me going through photos of Red Sox games from 2005 up to last season and it’s getting me excited for the 2012 season. With this frame of mind, I decided to sit down (thanks to streaming Netflix) and watch Ken Burns’ “Baseball”. (I’ve seen probably the majority of this series but not all of it and not in order.) So I turn on the Netflix and type in the word “baseball” and I get three options: I can watch “Baseball”, “Talking Baseball with Ed Randall, the Tom Selleck film “Mr. Baseball” or, most interesting to me since I hadn’t heard of it, “Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story”.
So Ken Burns got put on the back burner because there is no way I could turn away from a film with that title, right?
Along with my passion for writing I have a true love for reading. So when I’m fortunate enough to be offered free books, I jump at the opportunity! The blog has brought me many good things, including friends, and the occasionally freebie thrown my way is more exciting when it’s a book.
Recently, I received an email from a friendly writer named Jane Newcomer who asked if I would accept a free copy of her first novel called “Her Team” which is a story about a woman who wins the chance to manage the Boston Red Sox. I like to read…I especially like to read about baseball and Jane was offering the book in eBook format so I could read it on my Kindle (which is second after my MacBook on my list of material things I don’t want to have to live without). I’m terrible at writing reviews. Back in the early days of my online life, I used to write movie reviews and I could never bring myself to being truly critical of them. Same goes with most books that I read. These days, the most criticism I can give a book is that I decided to stop reading it before I was finished (I’m at a point where I find time too precious to waste reading a book that I can’t stand). So what I’ll say about “Her Team” is that I read the entire thing and enjoyed it!
It was definitely an idea I could get behind…fan wins the opportunity to manage a team for PR reasons…I once wrote a short story about a woman who became the Red Sox shortstop under similar circumstances…so it was fun to read someone else’s take on it.
So for $2.99 you can visit either Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble online and purchase the ebook “Her Story”. I’d like to point out that, apart from the free eBook, I wasn’t “paid” to write up this entry. Any time I can throw a writer a shout out, I’m happy to do it. I would like to thank Jane for reaching out and giving me something entertaining to read during this off-season!
I wish I had more to say about meeting Pedro at the New Stars for Young Stars Jimmy Fund event on Saturday. I was taken by surprise when my friend Kelly O’Connor told me she wanted to bring me with her to meet Pedro; I mean he’s probably the one Boston-related sports figure I would truly go quite out of my way to meet. I’m still trying to figure out how to properly thank her.
I was as excited as I’ve ever been to have the opportunity to say “thank you” to one of the “25” but that excitement translated into paralyzing fear once I approached him. I did squeak out my thanks and accepted HIS thanks and then watched him excitedly show his wife the photo I brought for him to sign. The person with him (his agent, manager, handler…whatever he was) seemed more interested in moving the line along than giving fans a chance to spend a moment with Pedro but he did mention that Pedro was enjoying seeing all the different photos people were bringing. Pedro told me and his wife that he hadn’t seen the photo before (I wanted to say “All I did was Google ‘Pedro Martinez Red Sox'” to him but I didn’t) and his wife used her cellphone camera to take a photo of it (in a surreal moment, Pedro went from being a baseball god to a typical husband “You need to shut off the flash before you take a picture of it, honey”). It was an amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade but it was a bit rushed and still feels like it all happened in a fog.
I also was pleased to have been able to meet Bobby Valentine. While I tend to get a little star struck, that didn’t happen with Bobby. It was like talking to someone I had known for a long time. His trademark smile was in full view the entire time we were there and he was happy to talk with anyone who wanted to hear from him. (I welcomed him to Boston and told him I was looking forward to the season “I am too!” he chirped.) Amusingly, they placed Ryan Kalish at the same table as Bobby V (which I likened to having to sit with the principal). While we were standing at their table waiting to approach Pedro, Bobby started telling Ryan about his time in MLB as a rookie. He was animatedly going on and on and it was the first time that day Kalish didn’t look like he was being tortured; he seemed genuinely enthralled with his manager’s story. It was a unique experience to get to witness that firsthand and it helped me accept Valentine just a little bit more.
A glance at the calendar reminds me that Truck Day really isn’t too far away. Saturday’s visit with the “New Stars” did a lot in making me actually start to look forward to the 2012 season.