Good day. And welcome to part two of my walk down memory lane.
It won’t actually be a walk down memory lane. We did that in the last entry. But I do like to take a moment to remember what an impact October 27, 2004 had on my life.
I’ve written it before and I say it a lot – it sounds almost stupid to say that night changed my life…but it did. I approach being a baseball fan, the single biggest hobby I have, in a completely different way than I did prior to 2004.
The last time a baseball game made me cry out of sadness and frustration was July 1, 2004. You might remember the game. Yankees fans call it “The Dive” game. Red Sox fans remember it as either “The Game When Nomar Stayed on the Bench” or “The Game Where Pokey Reese Made the Same Catch Jeter Did but Didn’t Have to Pretend He Needed to Dive” – in any event, I remember turning the game off and crying myself to sleep.
Not my greatest moment, admittedly.
Then we got the trade, and then Kevin Millar telling all the reporters that he’d see them at his locker in October and then in October he told them not to let the Sox win tonight. We got the walk, the steal, the slap…and then October 27th. And that’s all I needed.
I’ve loved baseball for as long as I can remember…at least 40 years, but I tended to lean toward being the stereotype of a miserable Sox fan. I never gave up on them, never, but boy I’d complain about them whenever anyone would listen. (I even incorporated complaining about them into the speech I gave at my father’s retirement party back in May of 2001.) October 27, 2004 basically gave me the strength to not be miserable. (Okay, admittedly, I had some miserable moments since I’ve been blogging, especially in the beginning…it took a while for it to take.)
Of course October 28, 2007 & October 30, 2013 didn’t hurt. I genuinely can’t understand any Red Sox fan who doesn’t just appreciate each season for what it is now. We’ve been so fortunate. After 86 years our team has three championships in a span of ten years. We have had good fortune dumped all over us and we’re rolling in it, regardless of what happened in 2014, and we should never, never forget it. To forget it would be a slap in the face to the rest of the fans in MLB who haven’t and won’t ever experience what we have. It would also be ridiculously selfish of us.
So as I do every year, I want to say “thank you” to the Boston Red Sox. My happiness as a baseball fan trickles into all other aspects of my life. Shallow? Maybe. But definitely true.
I’m watching what could be the World Series winning game for the Giants tonight (or the World Series tying game for the Royals) as I write this and it’s fun to be excited for another fan base while remembering how much I love being a part of the fan base I’m in. (Go Royals!)
Yesterday social media was inundated with “Ten years ago today” posts. Well, for those of us lucky enough to be Red Sox fans anyway. I purposely missed the window. This is a memory I want dragged out as long as possible (hell, the Boston Red Sox are still the reigning World Series Champs…I like to hold on). So here’s part one of my two-part anniversary post.
Because of what was going on last year, it seems I didn’t post anything on October 27, 2013 to commemorate the anniversary. And because of a bunch of my posts getting sent to oblivion, I don’t have anything from 2012…but going through my archives, it seems I had a lot to say about this anniversary.
2005 – my first year blogging
I was worried that a new World Champion would take away how I’ve felt all year about the Red Sox winning in 2004 – when I watched Ozzie Guillen interviewed last night, I realized I was wrong. Nothing will ever diminish what the Red Sox did and how they made me feel. If anything, I love them more this morning than I did yesterday.
More than once since I’ve been on MLBlogs, Yankees fans have complained that “all Sox fans have is 2004”. Taunted me with it, really, about ‘living in the past’. I suppose to fans of a team that continually go to the playoffs and have as many World Championship rings as the Yankees do, one specific World Series win isn’t that big a deal. But even if the Red Sox win 10 more in my lifetime, NOTHING will ever top 2004. And, as Red Sox fans, we’ve nothing to be ashamed of for remembering that season at any opportunity we can.
2007 – with the Red Sox in the World Series (and having gone to Game One), I was too occupied to actually write anything
2007 was sweet. It shut up everyone who said after 2004 “You won’t win for another 86 years!”. But 2004 was magic. And unless the Cubs win the World Series, no other fan base will truly understand what it meant to Red Sox fans. I don’t care how egomaniacal that sounds, it’s true.
2009 – I totally ripped myself off and just re-posted old stuff (sounds familiar…)
My memory isn’t always the greatest, but I remember everything about that night. I remember the moon. I remember the looks on the faces of my parents. I remember my sister’s voice cracking when she called me after the final out. While I hope that every sports fan can be as happy as we were on October 27, 2004, I believe that it will be impossible to ever duplicate what went on that October. And for that, as well as the two World Championships in my lifetime, I will be eternally grateful.
I’m not ashamed to say that the post-season of 2004 changed my life. It did. You don’t devote a significant part of your life to something like following a baseball team that hasn’t won it all in 86 years without being affected by it when they finally do. Maybe I’m not richer, maybe I’m not any better a person than I was in 2003, and maybe the world didn’t turn entirely upside down but, at the very least, I’m a bit happier. And that’s a lot to be thankful for.
I was never really a fan of Josh Beckett’s. Young and cocky is definitely not the way to my heart. But that changed on the evening of Saturday, October 25, 2003 when I got a phone call from my sister demanding that I put on Fox to watch the end of Game 6 of the World Series.
Up to that point, I hadn’t watched on second of the World Series or any coverage around it. If you’re a Red Sox fan, you know I’m not exaggerating. 2003 almost made me give up baseball altogether and I knew if I actually watched the Yankees play in another World Series, let alone win it, I might never watch another game.
It was the seventh inning when my sister called and Beckett was cruising. The Yankees starter Andy Pettitte pitched seven innings and closer Mariano Rivera pitched two…but Beckett pitched all nine. By the seventh inning my sister was convinced no one was beating Beckett and she wanted me to watch the Marlins beat the Yankees right there on the field at Yankee Stadium.
I wasn’t as confidant as my sister. While she decided to spite watch the World Series in the hope that the ALCS had worn out the Yankees, I couldn’t bear it. But she finally wore me down and in the 8th inning I put on the game and it was the most glorious patch of baseball I had seen since the final inning of the 2001 World Series. (A joy that also was shared with my sister over the phone…we have a history of enjoying memorable sports moments that way even though we don’t live that far away from each other.) And after that game, Josh Beckett was a hero to me. A flawed hero, certainly, but a hero nonetheless right up there with Luis Gonzalez.
So when the Red Sox traded for him in 2005, I was overjoyed. Hmmm…that could be a little bit of revisionist history. Let’s go look at the archives* and see how I felt:
So I feel compelled to write something about Derek Jeter. Had I written this last week it would have been a rant about how Major League Baseball, all of the networks that air Major League Baseball and almost every Yankees fan I’ve ever encountered both in real life and online wanted me to be devastated that Jeter retired from baseball.
But this past week of playoff baseball has taken the aggravation out of almost this entire season of Jeter love.
The Kansas City Royals have played and won THREE extra-inning games to put themselves one win away from going to the American League Championship Series. The Kansas City Royals have played some of the most exciting baseball I’ve seen not related to the Boston Red Sox in just three games (and 34 innings). And there was nary a mention of Derek Jeter at any of these games save for the occasional viewing of that Gatorade commercial (that Deadspin made even better). Major League Baseball might not want to admit it but so far baseball is not only still living without Captain Intangibles but it’s thriving.
Okay, thriving only to baseball fans who enjoy the hell out of watching exciting baseball regardless of the size of the team’s fanbase – but tell the fans it’s all for them and eventually we’ll start to believe it.
And this was the issue most people had with the narrative that the baseball world was going to end when Jeter tipped his cap for the last time: We knew it wasn’t true.
I will not argue that Derek Jeter wasn’t a better than average player. (I will argue that had he played anywhere other than the New York Yankees he’d be remembered pretty much the exact way Craig Biggio is remembered – which isn’t so terrible, is it?) But he wasn’t bigger than the game just because he played with the same team for his entire career, never got accused of or caught cheating and played well on a consistent level for the majority of his career. Those things make him fortunate, possibly a good guy and a very talented player. They don’t make him the best player to ever take the field. They don’t even make him the last great player MLB will ever see. He was a good/sometimes great player who will most definitely make it into the Hall of Fame. The thing is, if you go to the Hall of Fame you will see an awful lot of good/sometimes great/really freaking amazing players already there.
According to the Baseball Hall of Fame website:
The Hall of Fame is comprised of 306 elected members. Included are 211 former major league players, 28 executives, 35 Negro leaguers, 22 managers and 10 umpires.
So it isn’t as if when Jeter gets the call his plaque will be hanging in there alone. There won’t be some angelic lights shining upon it to single it out from all the others (although I’m sure some folks, probably Jeter himself, would dig that). It’ll be there with all the other players in baseball who have made an impact on the game impressive enough to get elected to its Hall of Fame. Which is wonderful. Jeter’s parents should be very proud. And I’ll be happy for him and not begrudge him his place in baseball’s history one iota.
But he didn’t historically change the game and the the game isn’t worse off for his deciding to leave it. It moves on, like everything does, and so far it’s still wonderful.
So goodbye, Derek Jeter. You weren’t my least favorite Yankees player but I’m still not sorry to see you go.