Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Good Vibrations

It speaks to my level of commitment these days that I had no idea today’s Red Sox game was an afternoon one.  That isn’t to say I’m not still committed to the team or this blog, I am on both counts, but I will admit that sadness over my grandfather’s passing and the stress of still being unemployed and losing those benefits come the beginning of August have put things like my feelings over the outcome of baseball games on the back burner.  Consider this my apology for the blog not being what it should be lately.  I’m working toward getting over this hump and am hoping for things (including my attitude) to change soon.

Until then, I really do appreciate the support.  Been trying to keep up the Facebook and Twitter pages too since it’s a little easier to give brief updates these days than full blog posts (which, again, doesn’t mean the full blog posts will stop.  Not at all.  Once other things in my life fall into place, I’ll be working on some improvements to the blog…so you’re not getting rid of me that easily!).

For now I leave you with a quote from Josh Beckett:

“I root for John Lackey more than I root for myself,”

Lackey pitched a heck of a game last night. Unfortunately, he pitched it while his team’s offense was cold and against a team whose pitching is incredible right now. These things will happen. Beckett’s quote tells me, an apparently Rob Bradford too, that this team isn’t falling into some cesspool of negativity, regardless of what you might hear on WEEI or the Sports Hub.

1:05 game this afternoon with Lester on the mound.  I’d prefer the Sox don’t get swept but, honestly, I’m just biding my time until interleague play is finished.

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June 30, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , | Leave a comment

For the love of…

Last night’s game wore me out.  Just wore me the hell out.

Cliff Lee was amazing so I guess we just accept that and move on.  Please, baseball gods, don’t let the Phillies fans win, okay?

Oh, and if anyone sees Josh Beckett come this fall, could they please hold him down and give him a flu shot?  Thanks.

June 29, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , | Leave a comment

Takes One to Know One

In an interesting bit of timing, as I wrote a blog entry yesterday about spiting the All Star vote, there was a columnist in Philadelphia, John Gonzalez, someone who seemingly gets paid for his time, submitting a column about how obnoxious Boston sports fans have become.  Let the irony of a columnist from Philly complaining about obnoxious fans settle in and I’ll be right with you.

If there’s a reason to end interleague play, this is it. The next few days figure to test our collective patience and sanity. Brace yourself: Boston fans are coming.

The Phillies will begin a three-game series with the Red Sox on Tuesday. Over the course of the season, the Fightin’s do all sorts of promotional giveaways, everything from hats to bobbleheads. This would be a good time for a different kind of freebie: maybe noise-canceling headphones or, if those aren’t enough and more drastic measures are needed, surplus World War II-era cyanide pills. One bite and the suffering will be over

I’m not here to argue that Boston fans aren’t obnoxious.  I fully admit to yesterday’s entry about voting against the Yankees being a bit obnoxious in terms of the spitefulness of it.  I see obnoxious fans at Fenway plenty.  I think, above all, we can admit that every fan base of every team in every aspect of sports has obnoxious fans as part of their fan base.  Doesn’t mean those fans define the base but we all know they exist.

Let me introduce you to the opening line of John Gonzalez’s bio on philly.com:

John Gonzalez is a local product who was exiled for a time and forced to live among cretins in Dallas and Boston

In my mind, Gonzalez mispronounces the word cretin like Randall does in Monsters Inc.

But I digress.

The entire piece is essentially a tremendous whinefest about how fans of Boston sports teams have it really good right now (damn skippy!) and that, by default, makes us obnoxious.  He picks on the quote of a father who talks of how he and his son have been to all the parades over these last seven years and stand in the same spot for each one.  Really?  That’s the best you have?

See, I wouldn’t even mind had this guy given some genuine examples of obnoxiousness.  You know, like intentionally throwing up on a little girl, chucking batteries at a player, booing an injured player while he’s motionless on the ground, or just being so generally obnoxious that security at the park goes automatically into tase mode when one of your fan base steps on the field.  But, no, the worst he gives us is a father creating a happy and memorable moment with his son.  The nerve of the guy, huh?

If this piece came out of Kansas City or Seattle, I probably would have read it over, chuckled and forgot about it.  But for someone from Philadelphia, who covers Philadelphia sports, to call another fan base obnoxious just because they have the audacity to be happy about the success of their teams…well if it wasn’t so pathetic I guess it could be entertaining.

I know some Boston sports fans who will be in Philly for these next three games.  I hope the level of their obnoxiousness doesn’t match that of the fans of the home team but I also hope they are sporting the Boston colors proudly.  I know they will be and there isn’t anything obnoxious about that.

June 28, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | Leave a comment

The Time to Vote is NOW

Papi knows you voted for him! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

Given the Red Sox just went 2-4 against National League teams that supposedly aren’t very good, the timing for this post is terrible.  But no matter.  After watching the Red Sox salvage a win in Pittsburgh, I flipped to the end of the Rockies/Yankees game.  Michael Kay was talking about Yankees relief pitcher David Robertson and how he should be elected to the All Star team but since there were going to be so many Yankees on the team he most likely wouldn’t be chosen.

Now, it’s true that there are many players on the Yankees who are leading in the All Star voting.  It was just the smugness of Michael Kay’s words that made me want to reach into the television and shake him a few times.  (Much like the other night when discussing Huston Street and Kay, in trying to compliment him, I guess, said “He’s not a clean closer like Mariano Rivera”.  (Now, I know damn well what a great pitcher Mo is.  My issue is, there is really NO ONE you can compare Rivera to and there was no reason to throw that dig in there…especially on a night when the Yankees LOST, Mr. Kay.)  So I decided yesterday that I was going to stop avoiding mentioning the All Star Game and ask you all to get on your butts (you’ll be sitting at a computer, yes?) and go vote for the Red Sox for the All Star Game.

But wait.  This is about spite (I’m not proud) so let me check that.  Alex Avila of the Detroit Tigers is behind Russell Martin right now in the voting for catcher.  I know Martin started off hot but after his first month with the Yankees he hasn’t really done much.  Certainly not enough to be the starting catcher in the All Star Game.  Voting ends this week at 11:59 on Thursday night, so there really isn’t much time to vote for your “favorite” any more if you actually want them to win (unless your favorite is Alex Avila, in which case you need to pick that up a notch).  So my spite vote for catcher goes to Alex Avila.  You’re welcome, Detroit.

At first base, Adrian Gonzalez is leading Mark Teixeira by about 600,000 votes.  Good work, Nation.  But the lead needs to widen.  It also gives us a little credibility that Adrian isn’t purely a spite vote, right?  I mean who, aside from Yankees fans, wouldn’t want Adrian Gonzalez on their team?

At second base, Robinson Cano is kicking Dustin Pedroia‘s butt by well over a million votes.  While I personally think this one is a bit of a wash, the idea of having baby Jeter out there annoys me to no end.  Unlike the catcher and first baseman positions, this one is a larger hurdle to jump, vote-wise, so you need to get out your multiple email addresses and start voting for Dustin.  I know Cano is a good second baseman and if I actually cared about winning or losing in the All Star Game I’d feel less annoyed by his presence, but I don’t and I am so Pedroia gets not only the “I think he deserves it” vote but the spite vote as well.

Third base has a pretty tight race going.  Sure Alex Rodriguez has 2,876,537 (at last count on June 21st) but behind him is Adrian Beltre with 2,307,380 and Kevin Youkilis with 2,025,438 votes.  When I started writing this, I had it in my head that Beltre was doing much better than Youk this season but after doing a little research I’m not so convinced of that any more.  I could go either way here, Beltre or Youkilis, and Beltre does have a better chance (give the current tallies) of catching up to Slappy, but I can’t go against Youk.  I just can’t.  So I’m not only spiteful but I’m a hypocrite.  Youk gets my vote.

Shortstop:  Derek Jeter is leading Asdrubal Cabrera by only 400,000 votes so there’s hope!  The fact alone that he’s leading is a complete joke.  Let’s forget how the Cleveland Indians have been struggling – who honestly believes Derek Jeter belongs in this year’s All Star Game over Cabrera?  If you aren’t a Yankee fan just voting across the board and you have voted for Derek Jeter this year, please tell me why?  I mean it, I really want to know why you think Jeter should start this year’s All Star Game?  A vote for Asdrubal Cabrera is a vote for baseball, people.  No spite or hypocrisy needed.

David Ortiz has almost two million more votes than Michael Young in the quest for starting DH.  I’d love to see that margin widen (no offense to Michael Young who seems like a perfectly nice guy).  Pile on the votes for Papi!  (Much to the chagrin of Joe Girardi, I’m sure, Jorge Posada has over a million votes and holds third place over Victor Martinez and Johnny Damon.)

Even on the DL, Carl Crawford is fifth on the list of outfielders.  Jacoby Ellsbury is fourth.  The top three are Jose Bautista (completely deserving), Curtis Granderson and Josh Hamilton.  I have a difficult time begrudging any one of those guys a spot on the team.  Jacoby is around 1.2 million votes below Granderson and would have to bump off Hamilton to get a starting spot.  Believe it or not, I’m okay with the way voting is going for this one.  Still, get your butt out there and vote for Jacoby.  He’s as deserving as Granderson or Hamilton.  (Carl, I love ya but I’m happy if you’re staying home this time around and resting up for the rest of the season.)

Sadly, Michael Kay, arrogant and annoying as he is, was right.  If the voting keeps up the way it is now, five out of the nine starting positions that fans are voting on will be filled by the New York Yankees and two by Boston Red Sox players.  Only Bautista and Hamilton in the outfield will save the American League from an all Boston/New York starting lineup.  We have work to do, people, and only four days to do it.

Now is the time to get to the voting, folks!

June 27, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 1 Comment

Hello Pittsburgh

So it’s a rainy day and I don’t have much to do before the game tonight so I decided it was time to check out the Pittsburgh Pirates because, honestly, off the top of my head I could only name Dusty Brown and Lyle Overbay on their roster.  A quick glance at their roster and I recognize a few more names but this weekend has all the makings of Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy butchering names and being genuinely confused as to who the Red Sox are playing.

I think it’s easy to write off the Pirates, but keep in mind the Red Sox just lost a series to the San Diego Padres who are, statistically, worse than the Pirates right now.  Since Beckett isn’t pitching, unless they decide to give Scott Atchison a start (brought up today with Michael Bowden being sent back down), the rotation this weekend is Lester, Wakefield and Miller.  We could be in for a long weekend.

On the other hand, it’s interleague play and the Red Sox, well the Red Sox pretty much love interleauge play and I’m going into the weekend with the expectation of a sweep and the hope for at least a series win.  I don’t look forward to seeing pitchers hit (I hate National League rules; I hate them) and having to sit one of the hot bats makes me a little twitchy but these are the prices we pay so Bud Selig can enjoy MLB the way a little kid enjoys Barbie Dolls.

At the very least, I’m looking forward to seeing how many Red Sox fans show up at PNC Park this weekend (and have some friends who will be representing for us!).

June 24, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , | Leave a comment

Nine Short Years

This photo hangs in the Baseball Hall of Fame and breaks my heart every time I see it. (Photo taken by Scott Rovak/AP and used without permission)

Back in the days when I was employed and could liberally spend my money, I’d buy just about anything baseball-related that caught my eye.  At one time I owned (what I considered) a beautiful, black Chicago White Sox alternate jersey because it was a baseball jersey, a team I didn’t hate, and I just loved the way it looked.  I also owned a purple and black Colorado Rockies Darryl Kile jersey.  It wasn’t so much that I was a huge Kile fan (I liked him well enough, especially given we were the same age) but more that I really liked the jersey and didn’t DISlike Kile.

So nine years ago today, while getting ready to watch Fox’s Saturday baseball, I was shocked and saddened when they announced that Kile had been found dead in his hotel room.  My strongest memory is of Joe Girardi, then the catcher for the Cubs, coming out and asking Cubs fans (the Cardinals were playing the Cubs in Chicago that weekend) to, basically, not freak out because the game had been canceled.  (I don’t believe they announced to the fans exactly why the game was being canceled, but my memory often fails me.)

The rest of the weekend, the media spent their time speculating that Kile’s death was due to drugs, or alcohol or both.  (I remember talk of a joint being found in the hotel room.  I have no idea if it was even true but I remember how they tried to make the appearance of marijuana some shocking information.  “OOh he was smoking POT.  NOW we know why he died!”)  As I often do, I immediately began to obsess on Kile.  I was watching everything they were showing on him and, again, his age really made it easy for me to connect to him.

The Monday following his death, I was up early watching Good Morning America as it began.  Dr. Timothy Johnson was on telling how a weak heart, not drugs, was most likely the cause of Darryl Kile’s death.  I can still see the graphic he showed where he was pointing to parts of the heart that were probably weakened in Kile.  I remember this because, as I was watching, the house I was living in, my parents house, caught fire.  It was a two-family house and my uncle lived downstairs and he ran up the stairs to us screaming “Get out of the house!” right in the middle of Dr. Tim discussing Darryl Kile.  Everything else, while still vivid in my mind, went in slow motion.  That day was one of the longest of my life and it marked a genuine change in me.  It was the beginning of some good and some bad times for me and one of the lesser changes was my immediate affection for the St. Louis Cardinals.

After a couple of weeks sleeping on a cot in the basement of an uncle’s house, I ended up living with my godmother and uncle in their extra room.  A room built on to the back of their house that they used as an extra room that had a futon in it for me to sleep on while I tried to figure out what move to make next.  I lost just about everything, but at least I had a roof over my head, a place to sleep and a television with cable in my room.   I watched a lot of baseball that summer, and paid attention to the Cardinals almost as closely as I did to the Red Sox.  That was the summer I found the Red Sox Fan Forum over at redsox.com and the year I started making “Red Sox friends”.  A lot of good and bad came from that summer.

When the Cardinals made the NLDS I watched every game.  The Red Sox were out of it and I already was spending time hating on the Yankees so I needed something to feel GOOD about.  When they lost the NLCS in five games to, of all teams, Barry Bonds’ San Francisco Giants, I was inconsolable.  I was convinced that the Cardinals were going all the way for Darryl that year, but it wasn’t to be.  (I moved out of that room in May of 2004.  During my time there, baseball wasn’t very good to me.  I was in a very unstable emotional state for my time there and that coupled with things like the Cardinals losing and the 2003 ALCS give me too many memories of crying in that room over something that happened in baseball.  Thank you baseball gods for 2004.)

So it might be silly, but because of the timing of Darryl Kile’s death and something traumatic of my own that I can connect it to, I have a very special spot in my heart for him.

It’s been nine years since Darryl Kile died.  I still have my Curt Schilling High Heat PC baseball game from 2001, I haven’t played it in years (and it probably can’t even play on the newer pcs) but Darryl Kile is one of the choices of player and I refused to give it up.  (It was saved in the fire because it was in my laptop the morning of the fire.  Amazingly, my laptop was blown out of my bedroom by the fire but the only thing that needed replacing was the power cord.)  I am emotionally irrational about Darryl Kile and realize this.  So today is really a sad day for me.

I don’t usually write about Darryl Kile because, honestly, it bums me out and I try to not bum myself out on my own blog, but the rain, the long-ass game, and my own melancholy these days made me feel like getting some things down.  I hope Darryl’s resting in peace.

June 22, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Jumping to Conclusions Rant

Note from Cyn:  I’ve been writing this for a few days and it came about for two reasons, one is a thread about it over at the Sons of Sam Horn and the other is a bunch of emails I received from folks wondering how, in light of this article, I could be a proud Red Sox fan (seriously).  I’ve given a lot of thought to what I’ve written and debated on if I should even post it and decided, in the spirit of my accepting that this is a personal blog as much as a baseball one, that it was something I wanted to get out.  If anyone is offended by what I’ve written, I apologize in advance.  My goal isn’t to offend anyone but to speak out because I was a bit offended by the piece I write about below.  Ignorance doesn’t serve anyone well and we’d all be better if we paid more attention to what we said or wrote and didn’t jump to conclusions.

I’m a second generation American on my father’s side and third generation on my mother’s.  My great grandfather Alfredo, born in Tufo, Italy, lived long enough for me to be able to not only remember him but remember conversations we had.  My father’s father, my grandfather Daniel (an Irish immigrant) died a couple of years before I was born so I, sadly, never got to speak with him but my father tells me stories that he shared with my dad all the time, including stories about how difficult it was to find work back in the days of “No Irish Need Apply”.  Both my maternal great grandfather and my paternal grandfather had stories of how poorly they were treated when they came to this country.  It was because of this poor treatment that both of my parents’ families have a long history of being racially and socially tolerant.  No one wanted to be treated like they were nothing and they would make sure they never treated anyone that way.  Being turned away for a job because of your heritage gives you an anger (and embarrassment) that you don’t get over quickly.  As a result, as I’ve mentioned before, my family is quite racially diverse.

I mention this yet add that I am not so racially diverse.  While I do have a small bit of Creek Indian in me, I’m pretty much a white, Italian, Irish American with very light skin and while I do understand what it’s like to have someone consider me less of a person, given that I’m a woman, I will never truly be able to appreciate how difficult it can be for a racial minority.

Which is why I find it difficult to criticize when someone who lives with being a minority writes about their experiences as such and puts a negative light on something or some place I love.  I grew up in the 70s and 80s not too far away from Boston and I know very well about this city’s terrible history with race relations.  Regardless of any changes that have occurred, Boston’s history will always relay the facts that minorities were not welcome here for quite some time.  Nothing changes history, we can only hope to improve upon it.

I bring all of this up because a “Globe Correspondent” named Francie Latour wrote a piece last week that only just today came to my attention.  She titled it (or maybe the Globe did. I get confused on the difference between blog entries and actual articles over there) “Race on Yawkey Way: Why is Red Sox Nation so White?”.  Now, usually pieces like this are written by white guys trying to stir up trouble and I read them, dismiss them and move on with my life.  But this was written by a black woman in a mixed-race marriage who happens to be a Red Sox fan so automatically I give her more credence than I would, say, Ken Rosenthal, on the matter.

Latour admits to feeling like “that lonely brown speck in the stands” and there’s really no one who can argue that.  Chances are, if you went to Fenway and saw her sitting in the stands, you might have the same passing thought.  There have been very few times when I was the minority somewhere but the idea of being such a minority in a crowd of 35,000 folks is daunting.  But Ms. Latour adds something to this piece and uses broad strokes to paint Fenway as an awful place without considering that it’s not so different in other parks.

First off, it has long been an issue for MLB, blacks in the game let alone going to them.  There is plenty of diversity in baseball, but, as of this year, blacks only make up 8.5 percent of the players.  While there are those who love to remind the Red Sox of their terrible history with race relations (being the last team in MLB to integrate, among others), recently, especially under this ownership, racial diversity hasn’t been an issue.  But, still, the complaints come out that black people aren’t coming to the parks and Latour’s article implies it is because they aren’t made to feel welcome at Fenway Park.

Unfortunately, disgust is something I’ve felt at Fenway in other contexts. I’ve seethed as a nearby fan screamed “Go back to Japan!’’ at former third-base coach Wendell Kim. (Kim, a Korean-American, was born in Hawaii.) Once, my husband nearly got us kicked out after confronting fans shouting antigay slurs at former Blue Jays outfielder Frank Catalanotto. I wonder, if I ever heard the N-word fly, what would I do? And is it possible some blacks don’t come because they don’t want to risk hearing that ugliness?

The only racist slurs I ever heard at Fenway were lobbed at Daisuke Matsuzaka by a group of men who seemed to be college students who were drinking, not paying attention to the game and acting like jackasses.  That isn’t to say I believe no one has ever uttered such things at Fenway, but I spend a lot of time there and, usually, the problems I encounter don’t have anything to do with folks being racists…just jerks.  Admittedly, the worst things usually came from some drunken idiot who eventually got booted out of the ballpark.  My issue with this particular paragraph, though, is it could apply to any park in MLB (and, really, any arena in sports in general).  You are always going to find asses at the park.  Alcohol and testosterone don’t mix well.  Hell, alcohol and assholes don’t mix well.  (I’ve experienced my share of women who were offensive and just utter idiots at the park.  It isn’t fair to just blame idiocy on men.)  It’s disingenuous to imply that you wouldn’t hear this kind of talk at any other ballpark and that it’s specific to Fenway (and that’s exactly what she does by sharing this story as an example of why Red Sox Nation is “so white”).  While I understand that this is her specific experience, she wrote this piece in a tone that implies you wouldn’t find this issue at other parks.

In researching for this entry, I came across this:

In terms of race and ethnicity, White Americans made up 84.9% of New England’s population, of which 81.2% were whites of non-Hispanic origin. Black Americans comprised 5.7% of the region’s population, of which 5.3% were blacks of non-Hispanic origin.

Black Americans make up 5.7% of the population in New England while whites make up almost 85%. How is that not stated as the obvious reason there is such a lack of racial diversity at Fenway Park?  It certainly doesn’t excuse the asshats who are offensive and harassing, but at least it gives some perspective. (For more perspective, in Boston specifically, non-Hispanic whites make up 47% of the population while Blacks and African Americans make up 22.4%.)

The larger argument could be made about all of MLB but simplifying it to Fenway is playing with the emotions of people who all too well remember the history of race relations in Boston (myself included).  It certainly isn’t perfect, but Boston is far from the same place it was in the 1970s.  It would be ignorant of me to pretend that there still aren’t race issues out there because I’ve witnessed them myself, not just at Fenway but in other aspects of my life, including through my family.

Here’s how she ends her piece questioning why “Red Sox Nation is so White”:

For fans, baseball is religion. For owners, it’s a business. I get that. But like believers before me, I long for the day my hometown team will go all the way against improbable odds. I root for them to reverse their other curse.

The other curse?  How do you blame the team for something that is clearly out of their control?  She mentions in the piece that she’s been going to Fenway since 2000. She then mentions that she wonders what she would do if she ever heard “The N-word”. If she’s been going to Fenway for 11 years and hasn’t heard that word yet, does that not tell her that things are probably not as terrible as she imagines they could be? Isn’t it possible that the fact that there are less blacks in the region, coupled with the fact that there are less black fans in ALL of MLB be the reason the stands are so pale in Fenway? Why does there have to be a correlation between some jackasses she’s seen and the fact that less blacks (and minorities in general) go to the ball park?  To blame the Red Sox for the fact that so few blacks go to Fenway is ignorant.

One thing I do agree with her on is the Red Sox and their connection to Dennis and Callahan.  To me, there’s no excuse for the support NESN (and through NESN, the Red Sox) gives them.  That is an argument Red Sox fans of all races make every day.  It’s also one that people can easily excuse (so many write me to tell me I’m flat-out wrong about them being racist and sexist and that it’s all in the interpretation of what they’re saying) and one that, thanks to money, will be difficult to ever get across to NESN, WEEI and the Red Sox.

I will never know what it is like to have someone look at me and immediately condemn me for the color of my skin, so I don’t comfortably criticize Latour because hers are shoes I can truly never walk in.  But there are sometimes when I think it’s appropriate to defend those being unfairly targeted and I think that’s what Ms Latour has done here.  There is no arguing that Fenway Park and the Red Sox fandom are full of more white people than any other group.  But just because that is a fact, that doesn’t mean there is a nefarious reason behind it.  Articles like hers, in my opinion, don’t encourage there to be a legitimate discussion about race, they just put people on the defensive and that’s not a good way to get any kind of change in place.

June 22, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 3 Comments

A Message from Tru about the PMC

Tom at the Pan Mass Challenge in Fenway 2010 - Click here to donate to Tom's ride this year

Ah the Internet; that technologic marvel that allows instant information, whether true or false, to be right at our fingertips.  It’s amazing to think of how all this net business has changed our lives and we’ve become so dependent upon it.

Were it not for the Internet, we would not know one another, nor would Cyn’s blog be here.  And, it is worth noting that this particular blog isn’t just a resource for the happenings in baseball, or specifically the interest in Red Sox baseball.  It is, at least to me, much more than that.

One of the neater aspects to the blog is Cyn goes out of her way to bring things to our attention that is rooted in the idea that we can reach out and lend a helping hand to those in need.  Whether searching for a loved one who was lost, or helping grieving kids who lost their father to tragedy, this blog has always been a place that has elicited the kind of good deeds that needs getting done, appealing to us all to roll up our sleeves and participate.

So I’ve asked Cyn if I could write a few things and wish to take a few minutes to talk about one of my closest and oldest friends.

His name is Tom.  A week ago we celebrated his reaching the ripe old age of 60.  He was surrounded at a fabulous party by his wife and daughters, 83 year old (going on 18), mother, his in-laws, cousins, friends and a ton of great food and drink.  We were in his back yard, under a tent, with the weather doing its damnedest to dampen our mood.  As people ate and talked about him, I began to reflect on our 45 year relationship

We met in our sophomore year in high school.  He was an athlete… a really good athlete, who learned a love of skiing from his father, and expanded that sport to learn how to skateboard and surf.  He was and is an excellent surfer.  I have photos of him on a very cold day in Rhode Island where he was surfing some pretty big waves.  Those photos were enlarged, mounted and hang on my daughters walls now.  They know it’s him in those photos, as they’ve been around him all their lives and know many of the surfing stories he’s shared.  Tom and I have surfed in a lot of places up and down the eastern seaboard and he was always the first guy out to the lineup and the last guy in.

We skied together in high school, with me not doing much of it since the late 70’s, while he is still on his every winter.  He loves to hike and has taken his family on many treks here in northern New England, and has ventured throughout Utah and Arizona.

I was his best man in his wedding, saw the birth of his two daughters, passing of his father and been at many of the important moments of his life.  He has worked hard in his business and has always had a capacity to smile, even under pressing, otherwise difficult circumstances.

Tom has always been an athlete, keeping his body in tip top shape.  He’s watched his diet, doesn’t drink or smoke, and has been devoted to his family for as long as I’ve known him.  He is, as you can sort of tell, a guy I greatly admire.

In 2007, Tom and I went to watch the Red Sox play in the World Series.  It was cold, and it was fantastic, not just because we were at Fenway, or the Red Sox were walking away with another fantastic championship.  It was because I was there with him.  It was because he was still here.

Not too long ago, Tom was diagnosed with throat cancer.  It was stunning news, because he seemed an unlikely candidate.  I know that cancer is indiscriminate, not caring one whit about anyone it attacks.  It is just that you would never expect it to touch him.  So Tom and his family began down that dark road to where no one knows where it leads as they first set out.  He had a few consultations near local hospitals, but then decided to go to the Farber.

The Dana Farber Center is beyond any descriptions for the people who are affected by what goes on there.

These dedicated caring specialists laid out a treatment plan that was going to test the iron will Tom possesses.  And it did. His weight loss, lack of energy, inability to eat, drink or sleep with any normalcy put a strain on him and everyone who loves him.  But throughout the two year treatment process, he never stopped smiling and never once gave up, nor ever complained.  If you were to ask him about it, he’d bend your ear.  Not from the perspective of what he went through.  No, Tom would go on and on about the fantastic people at the Farber, and all those sick little kids who he says have more courage and uplifting spirits than he’ll ever hope to have.

Tom has been riding in the Pan Mass Challenge ever since he was strong enough to get back into some regular routine for exercise.

He’s in training now, as the PMC will host their 31st ride in August.  Tom will be there, riding to help raise money for the Jimmy Fund. It will be his fifth year in the event, and he does this to give back to help those who helped him.  He wants to see to it that they have the tools do advance the fight.  And the only way to do that is by raising money.

You might not know this, but since 1980, the PMC has raised more than 300 million dollars, with 100% of rider raised dollars going directly to the fund… 100%!  And the other interesting fact is that PMC was responsible for 60% of all funds donated to the Jimmy Fund and they are the largest contributor.  Riders are required to pay to ride in the event, and depending on which route they ride, they must raise between $500 to as much as $4,200 in order to participate.

Many of the riders are cancer survivors, or those who ride to support a family member.  Ages range from 17 years old to 87, with 34 states represented.  This is one major league event and it is run by dedicated people who share the passion to do whatever they can to see an end to cancer.

Saturday night I was at Fenway with Tom, his wife and two daughters.  It’s the annual PMC game and he invited me to be there with his family.  That’s two things that I have a hard time resisting… being with my best friend and at Fenway Park.

It was pretty emotional watching the riders bike the warning track. Denise DeSimone who survived throat cancer sang the national anthem. It was mentioned that her initial prognosis was thought to be so bad; she’d lose her ability to speak, never mind sing. Her voice was soft and deep, but beautiful.

There’s also Zak Kraft who threw out the first pitch. Zak’s story is really interesting. Zack’s dad is a lifelong friend of Billy Starr. Starr founded the PMC. Zak’s dad has ridden in every PMC… 32 of them. Zak is, at 28 years old, a cancer patient.

The PMC attendees got to sit in the grandstands behind home plate. Zak and his fiancée sat right in front of us. Zak’s mother remembers meeting my friend Tom at previous PMC events.

I’ve got to say that I am truly impressed with what the Sox have done to reach out and embrace the right things that make a difference in people’s lives. It’s no secret that what brings us all here is a common love of baseball; Red Sox baseball. But the current owners of this team have continually hit home runs, IMO, especially in ways that are really important

Saturday night, the Sox didn’t win, but in other, far more important ways, the real winners were all around me, smiling, laughing, celebrating and still here.

Thank you PMC, the pros over at the Farber Center, the Red Sox and thank you, Tom.

Tom at the 2007 World Series (Photo by Tru!)

June 20, 2011 Posted by | 2011, Featured | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Enjoy Another Parade

Earlier this week I was chatting with my dad about the upcoming interleague series and he, who apparently pays more attention to the National League than I do, was lamenting that the Red Sox drew the first place Milwaukee Brewers while the Yankees were going to play the not-so-hot Chicago Cubs.  He worried that the Yankees would steamroll over the Cubs while the Red Sox might have a little trouble with the Brewers.  Yesterday, while watching the Yankees and Cubs with him, he explained that he just wanted the Yankees to lose the first game and the Re Sox to win and then the rest of the weekend would be less stressful for him.

Yes, even with the Red Sox in first place, the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry stresses my father out.  Gotta love him.

So the Yankees losing and the Red Sox winning has given my father comfort with the 2.5 game lead the Sox now have over New York. I’m sure John Lackey was happy he could help my dad out.

I spent the last hour or so of the game at the emergency room last night.  I’m fine.  Might or might not have a piece of glass lodged in my foot (the might not would be, had a piece of glass in my foot, got it out but the area is still irritated to the point it hurts to walk on it).  Hanging in an ER for over an hour, getting x-rays and expecting to get results only to be told “I don’t want to go digging around and mess up your foot”…was disappointing to say the least.  I came out of it with a tetanus shot, some antibiotics and a still pained foot.  But at least I got to watch the Red Sox hammer away at the Brewers while I was waiting.  (Because it was a relatively slow night there, one of the ER nurses kept coming over to ask the score…it occurs to me that women more often than men ask me about baseball and sports in general when I’m out and about.  Don’t know if that means anything but I found it interesting.)

Today’s game has turned into tonight’s game (something I am selfishly happy about because I have plans not related to sports this afternoon and would have missed the game live otherwise) so Bruins fans can take over the city for a few hours.  If you are one of those fans, congratulations, have fun and stay safe!

June 18, 2011 Posted by | 2010 | , , , | 1 Comment

Emotions in Motion

Whenever a team (or player) accuses another team (or player) of stealing signs, I usually have two immediate thoughts:

1) If you are doing such a poor job of masking your signs, you deserve to have your signs stolen.

2) If you are bad enough at it that you get caught, you should admit that you were trying to steal signs.  There is no rule in MLB against stealing signs so why the big conspiracy to hide it if that’s what you’re doing?

In the midst of being swept by the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba accused both Mark Teixeria and Andruw Jones of stealing signs.  They, of course, denied it and Joe Girardi got all high and mighty when asked about it.  But, in truth, who knows?  Someday we could find out that every home run Alex Rodriguez ever hit with men on base was because he was being fed signs.  Does it matter?  There is a poll up on ESPN.com asking fans if stealing signs is “cheating” or “gamesmanship” and, as of this writing, an overwhelming 73% of well over 14,000 people voting call it “gamesmanship”.

I should add a 3) to the above list which would be:  If you think a player/team is stealing signs, instead of making it public with the press or bitching to said player/team…deal with it during the game.  If you think Teixeira is stealing signs, send him a message during his next at-bat.  The “you send one of ours to the hospital, we send one of yours to the morgue” mentality, right?  You steal our signs, we give you a physical memory of why you shouldn’t do that.  Any time the team claiming their signs are being stolen starts talking to the press about it all I can think of is, “And what will talking about it solve?”.  Deal with it during the game just like you would someone going in harder than you think necessary to break up a double play.

On a similar note, after David Price hit Kevin Youkilis last night, both benches got warned because the umpire seemed to think it was retaliation for Youkilis running over Casey Kotchman Tuesday night.  Many Rays fans took to the Internet to complain about Youk even when Kotchnan publicly came out to say there was obviously no intent.  (For the record, it didn’t occur to me until the ump started yelling that the hit was on purpose.) Even so, Rays site Rays Index created the below gif from the incident, naming the file “Youk is a dirty fack”.  Given the fighting  history of these teams, I suppose the Rays fans might have been hoping for some kind of fight to galvanize the team.  Unfortunately, all they got was a series loss and a whole game back in the standings.

If you can look at this and see malicious intent, you must be a Rays fan.

So heading into interleague play, the Red Sox finish a road trip with a record of 8-1.  The Sox will ride this wave into the weekend with the Milwaukee Brewers in town.  While I love the record the Sox have in interleauge, I don’t often get too excited for it.  The Brewers have been to Fenway before so it isn’t exactly new ground.  All I really care about in regard to the weekend is that the team wins.  John Lackey, Jon Lester* and Tim Wakefield will lead the charge.  I’m confidant in their abilities to keep the winning going!  Howsabout a TEN game winning streak this time around?

*A reminder that Saturday’s game, originally scheduled to being at 1:10pm, will be starting at 7:10pm to accommodate the Boston Bruins victory parade.  A better reason to change the time of a game, I can’t think of!

June 17, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , | 2 Comments