Note from Cyn: Tru wrote this before last night’s Red Sox win, Tampa Bay loss and Tim Wakefield finally hitting the 200 mark.
I phoned 911 the other night, begging for the police to come and save me.
The calm and assuring voice on the other end of the line asked what was happening and not to worry, she would stay with me. I told her that my weekend began early Friday afternoon, and not on a particularly good note.
“Start from the beginning”, the voice said…
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.
At sixty years old, I have lived more than half of my life expectancy. The actuarial tables employed by the insurance industry dictate that I should live for another 20 or so years, which I suppose is okay.
According to popular trends, the latest geriatric medical advances, Men’s Health magazine and a dash of myth tossed in, the heady brew I’m indulging in is supposed to make these remaining years pass in relative good health. I even bought a new bicycle to use not just in the summer months, but also over the long winter, where I can use a trainer. I’m trying to maintain a heart healthy status. I’m trying to piss off the insurance industry too.
Also part of my regimen is to be able to climb stairs. I like to take this exercise into Fenway Park, where I walk along concourses, ascend, descend, ascend, descend and do it all over again, game after game that I get to attend. You would think that because of this rigorous exercise routine that my heart would be happy about it. Physically, my heart seems tip top, or so my doctor says. Sure, he’d prefer to see me lose some weight, stop smoking cigars, lay off staying up to watch west coast games, and pay better attention to what I eat.
But my heart is asking me about seeing a mental health professional.
Heart: I’m kind of in a funk
Heart: Yeah, I’m really blue
Tru: What’s your problem? I’m doing everything to keep you in great shape!
Heart: Look, there’s more to me than being in good physical form. You know this, right?
Tru: Well, I honestly didn’t know.
Heart: Don’t you talk to your mind? I mean, why aren’t you talking to your mind?
Tru: Well, I do sometimes, but it didn’t seem to come up. But that’s beside the point. What is it that I can do for you?
Heart: Don’t abandon me.
Tru: What? Why would I abandon you?
Heart: Don’t patronize me. You know damned well what I’m talking about.
Tru: Oh. Them. You’re talking about the Sox. Am I right?
Heart: You’re a savant sometimes, you know that?
Year in and year out the Red Sox show up and so does everyone else. I’m included in everyone else and part and parcel of this proposition is never giving in to the nit picking feelings that somehow wants to take me down a notch from believing in my team. But my heart is beginning to weaken. I’m surrounded by all these things, all this evidence that says there is a huge difference between what we should see and what we are seeing.
I’m quite able to break down a game into areas where the key things that occurred led to the outcome. To be honest, I do that more when the Sox lose than when they win. However, I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. Now I know the media has gone off on the Sox before the season started, picking them to win it all. Didn’t this happen to the 2008 Tigers? Even some of our own players believed the season would be spectacular. Yet, here it is that I’m beginning to look at the team in ways that I cannot explain.
I’m not giving up on the team. I’ve never done that, and am not about to begin.
But, I’ve scheduled time for my mind to meet with my heart and see if they can find some way to resolve whatever issues there are.
I’ll be damned if the insurance company believes they can cheat me.
Oh, one last thing. Angel Hernandez and Joe West can kiss my ass.
Note from Cyn: Good friend and contributor to Toeing the Rubber, Tru is back again this season with his words of wisdom. What follows is the first of hopefully many entries by him this year:
You’ve been stuck in the back end of the plane for several hours, wedged up against the window, with the old woman who is sprawled fast asleep in the aisle seat. You don’t want to wake her and now that the plane has come to a complete stop and the captain has turned off the seat belt sign, the late arriving passengers slowly ooze out of the jet into the passenger terminal.
Bags in tow and a rental car that hasn’t been washed, you leave the airport and head for the hotel that is another hour and half of travel time.
Alone on the highway, where even the state police seem to know that you’re not real prey, you begin to think about things. Crazy things, as your mind wanders all over the map and begins playing with you in ways that words would never be heard coming out of your mouth. Fighting the urge to sustain this inane train of thought, the window goes down to let a gush of fresh air into the car as you try to turn your thoughts onto something a little less negative.
The radio is not getting anything other than the twang of a guy and his old dog, as they were both spurned then turned out by a former girl friend and on any level there is no relating to the sad events this guy is going through. Well, maybe.
I really don’t understand whether it is just a fluke, or why it seems to stick in the back of my head that the Red Sox will never win another game for as long as I live. All of the essentials are there, and individually, at least on paper, they’re all part of the upper end of baseball. I’ll grant some are older and worn around the edges, but they too have their abilities and can contribute. Even management has had enough experience, not just in assembling a team, but in keeping them focused on what they have to do.
So what’s the deal?
For as long as I’ve loved this game and paid attention to it, foolishly thinking that I have some inside knowledge, the answer is I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that the term ‘pressing’ is affixed on new players who are surrounded by the crush of media who unfairly pushed them up onto idol mounts and they’ve never seen anything quite like it. Sure, they’re all MLB talents and seen major cities and read the papers, watched the TV talking heads laud and denigrate; they should be used to this, right?
Maybe the idea that since Henry & Co. revitalized this franchise and built the brand into something better than any of our heritage with the club has known, they are now expected to win. It’s not just about having good health, or luck… it is all about winning and as a fan, perhaps I’ve come to expect it also. The culture change that has replaced a lot of the fear and loathing that always accompanied the Red Sox fan base, as you wanted to believe they could get there, but held onto that, “we’ll get em next year” attitude. No, the fans now expect the Red Sox to win.
Oh, I could wander over this endless double yellow line as I hurt my head trying to figure out what will happen, and how the Sox will go on some ungodly win streak. But the only thing I really have is simply faith. Corny as it is, this is the stuff that always carried me, season after season, bad year after worse and always, seemingly coming up short.
For all the business experience anyone can have, there’s always been this neat little parable’s or phrases, that somehow sum up a situation; little anecdotes that describe a given situation or redirect people towards better things. Hell, there’s even a business that made a small fortune in that kind of wall art, cards and other little gifts that are designed to inspire. I don’t need any of that. And neither do the Red Sox.
What I believe they need is the same thing I need; faith.
And it isn’t borne out of some spiritual thing. It is a certain trust that they are, I am not going to be moved in a direction that makes me dislike or abandon them. They go out there every day, so I will too. I’ve done it for too many years and while I’m as worn, perhaps even more so as a few of the players, I’m up to the task. I simply will not quit. I have them and they’re stuck with me.
And for all of that, I say they’ll win today. Because in their hearts, and in mine, we are that good. We have faith.
Terrific. Now I have to turn around and get off the right exit to my hotel.
Right now I have a handful of friends who are all in Fort Myers taking in Spring Training baseball. One of those friends is Tru (someone who has contributed to this blog in the past and someone I hope to get to contribute more this year!) He sent me a message last night that I thought was interesting:
So I’m sitting in the stands at COPP and looking at the scoreboard. I’ve seen it before and know it is not really a very good one, as it is old. I also don’t expect COPP to upgrade the thing since the Sox are moving to a new field.
But it struck me as odd that the people (whoever they are), run the board during games use images and words to try and get people to root the team on. It didn’t register at first, but it wound up making me a bit angry. This is Red Sox baseball, and although it’s only ST, the idea that people in the stands don’t know what’s going on down on the field offended me.
Now I don’t pretend to know the details of who, how, what, when and why concerning the scoreboard and how it’s decided what goes on. But it seemed to me that it was wrong… very wrong.
I remember you blogging about the new score board at Fenway, and hoping the Sox marketing team decides they’ll pass on the temptation to put up cheering like messages. But here in Ft. Myers, the Red Sox winter home they sure as hell are doing that and it bothered me.
I’ve only been to City of Palms Park for one Spring Training and that was in 2005. Being amped about actually being at Spring Training, plus the excitement of meeting people I knew online but hadn’t met in person PLUS the fact that it was the beginning of the 2004 World Championship victory tour, all means this: I have no idea if they were encouraging fans to make noise via the scoreboards at the time. And there are people who read this blog (as well as friends of mine down in Ft Myers right now) who have been to many years of Spring Training in Fort Myers who could probably answer the question as to whether this just started this season or if it has gone on all along. I’d be interested to find this out. (As a note, Tru has been down there plenty of times as well. I think it is probably something you wouldn’t take much notice of normally but if there is time to focus on it you suddenly would have a “Hey, they’re telling the fans to ‘make noise’?” moment.)
I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’ve maintained that I’m all right with the scoreboard encouraging of fans at Minor League ballparks because, well, because they’re the Minor Leagues and there is a different atmosphere (and slightly different audience) for those games. Even in the minors, though, there are exceptions. If you go to a PawSox game, with some exceptions (like there being mascots), the atmosphere is very much geared toward it being like a Major league game. So I have mixed feelings. I guess the excuse for it in Fort Myers could be that the games “don’t count” and everyone is just down there for fun. But I share Tru’s feelings in that I’m wondering if this is just a precursor to get folks used to what is going to happen at Fenway this season with the new video boards.
Man, I hope not.
(Speaking of Spring Training…Kelly O’Connor is there and has already taken some fantastic photos that you can find here!)
Note from Cyn: I’ve been off-line for the bulk of the weekend attending to family issues. I came to find out that many of my friends (and relatives) were deeply affected by the ice storms of the end of the week. I can’t imagine being without power for days and days (and know some people who are still without power or heat or water) – I’m a modern gal with modern needs. But Tru, he handles these things much better than I would. And here’s his story (with some pictures taken by Mrs Tru!):
Winter of 2008 has barely begun, but it made its presence known in a huge way. Thursday night, driving back from western Massachusetts, the roads were getting slick and icy, but the temperatures were holding steady at or around 32 degrees F.
When I woke on Friday morning, the house was without power, and cold; very cold.
Okay, so I’m usually the one bashing the Boston sports media for NOT giving players the benefit of the doubt and always coming down on the side that prefers to bash them instead of praise them. Not so this morning.
It began when I opened an email from Tru this morning that said nothing but “Check out Michael Silverman’s column in the Herald today. I think he slipped in the loo and hit his head…“.
I couldn’t imagine what Silverman could have written to get a reaction like this from Tru…so off to BostonHerald.com I went.
Let’s start with the headline to Silverman’s piece (yes, I know they, apparently, don’t write their own, but it’s a good indicator of the tone of Silverman’s article): Pedro Martinez feels Manny Ramirez pain (great use of punctuation there, Boston Herald).
Ah, the pain of making all that money and still not being happy. The pain of being absolutely beloved by the fans. The pain of being a mega-millionaire and mega-superstar and orchestrating your release from the team. DOES NO ONE CONSIDER HOW PAINED MANNY IS?????
(Note from Cyn: Tru comes through again!)
1. Play any interview of Curt Schilling
This technique has a value of three to four weeks, comprised of arguing with everyone, including, but not limited to your mailman.
2. Watch replays of Eric Gagne in a Red Sox uniform
Still highly effective, this approach may tax your health care coverage.
3. Pine Tar your bed posts
While not very popular, waking to the smell of baseball will keep you happy for a few weeks. Also plan on sleeping alone, or prepare for an intervention from your spouse.
4. Attend Bench Rocking classes
The Leo Mazzone School of Bench Rocking has gained wide popularity, and you too can learn to rock with the best of them. Terry Francona is slated to be a guest speaker at the December gathering at the Ramada Inn in Seekonk, Rhode Island.
5. Meet and Greet
While still unorthodox, finding out where players reside in the off season, breaking into their homes remains a great way to keep your baseball love in tact.
6. The Mall
Standing outside JC Penney in the dead of winter, and screaming Julio Lugo is a gold glover is sure to attract other fans and good baseball discussion. This is good for holiday shopping weekends, but has a value of a day or two.
7. Attend Vigils
Since the famous trade of Nomar Garciaparra, vigils have become a way of life. There are chapters for Bronson Arroyo, and a newly formed Manny Ramirez charter. Understand though, that wearing black is mandatory.
8. Build a Park
Teach your kids, the nieces and nephews how to build a baseball park from snow and ice. Spray painting the details of your favorite ball park is a great finishing touch. Don’t forget to have dogs and a beer, as you watch the tykes slide into home, and beyond. This has a day value, and should be carefully planned around a January thaw.
9. Be a Player at Work
Don your team uniform and act like your favorite player for a week, while your co workers look on in astonishment and envy. Matt Garza impersonations may result in health code violations. Three week value rating.
Equipped with throw away cell phones, you and your friends can occupy late evenings calling baseball general managers in both leagues, while proposing impossible trades and deals. Imagine the fun of being Arn Tellem and telling Brian Cashman that you can deliver top talent at a fraction of his market value! This has a rating of 8 ~ 10 weeks.
Yankees Co-Chairperson Narrowly Avoids Embarrassment
October 29, 2008
By U. Ben Hadd
The World Series has seen its share of odd happenings over the years, but as temperatures plummeted and rain continued soaking Citizens Bank Park for game five of the World Series, first base umpire Tim Tschida and home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg were in the process of suspending play when Henry G. Steinbrenner stormed into the Fox broadcasting booth during a commercial break. The players and on field officials knew nothing of what was happening in the broadcast booth.