Tag Archives: Boston

The Red Sox have Boston singing in the streets

Unlike the at bats of a Red Sox hitter, I will keep this short and sweet. But then, I may just foul off a few pitches, lay off a tough pitch just outside the zone, and work the faithful into a frenzy with a timely hit.

It occurred to me recently, as I sang along with the words that I think I know from “Tessie”, that Boston loves to sing.

From McGreevey and the Royal Rooters from more than 100 years ago all the way up to the Fenway Faithful belting out “…every little thing is gonna be alright…“. Quite often I will sing the National Anthem with the twins to start our day on the way to school. Boston loves to sing the anthem too. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Boston sang. The Garden sang. These still bring tears to my eyes. Okay, actually they make me cry, completely.

Then for fun, I sing, “Take me out to the ballgame” with the kids all the time. And, for fun, Boston sings some more. Then there’s “Sweet Caroline”. A lot of people don’t like that Boston fans sing these songs. But, then I remember, it’s a game, it’s fun, and letting moments wash over me in my favorite ballpark ever, are better for me than had I not experienced them. Boston, all summer long, nightly, sings. Then there’s “Dirty Water” and “Shipping up to Boston”, and even “God Bless America”. Then there are fans who sing on the field. This video has been seen around the world. There are so many more.

Last night Boston was treated to something that had not been seen in 95 years, the home team winning the World Series on their home field. The Red Sox won their 3rd Championship in ten seasons and there was singing in every corner of Red Sox Nation through the night.

Last night I sang from my family room with the Dropkick Murphy’s as they sang the National Anthem. I shouted along with my TV when Victorino came to the plate. I participated in singing “Sweet Caroline” during the 8th inning. I celebrated and strained to hear The Standells above the roar of Fenway after Carpenter went down swinging. I watched the celebration and listened to player after player talk about, team, work, approach, belief, trust, and the will to win. Then I dozed off, smiling, and respectfully thinking of the players, fans, and generations that never saw any such thing in an 86 year span.

This morning started like most others do. Everyone scurrying to get to where they need to be, on time. On the ride to school the twins asked me to sing my special song, which is the National Anthem. I sang it, they filled in words where they knew to, or copied me. I smiled a little brighter and a little longer between words this morning, because I am a Boston Red Sox fan, and my favorite team won the World Series. Later today, if the mood strikes me, and I think it will, I may just bust out a few lines of “We are the Champions”. #bostonstrong

Bruins Warrior

I have written on this subject before and it means a great deal to me personally, it is team. This blog I wrote (The Team) a while back probably doesn’t do it justice, but last night was another example of why team is so important, and when a group ‘gets it’, you can’t miss it.

Warrior means, brave or experienced fighter or soldier. Last night, in the second period of the Bruins – Penguins game, Gregory Campbell may have come as close as you possibly can in defining the word warrior, as it relates to sport. The video link is right here. As it turns out, Campbell broke his leg and will miss the rest of Boston’s season. On the ice, he helped kill another penalty, he blocked a shot, broke his leg, stayed on the ice, still pursued shooting and passing lanes, and after 45+ seconds on the ice, with a broken leg, skated on one leg to the bench. This led to a standing ovation by the Bruins loud and faithful fans in the Garden. It led to a Bruins surge in momentum. It led to the Penguins burning their timeout. And it led to the chants of “Campbell! Campbell! from the packed house in Boston. Post-game interviews with Bruin players revealed that the team, among other reasons, wanted to win for Gregory Campbell, and many of them shared just how valuable they feel he is to the club.

Playing for something bigger than yourself. That’s why Campbell played through it and finished his shift, to kill the penalty. To be there for his team in a moment when Boston needed the four skater’s in front of Rask. He did it because his team needed him to, and he had their backs. Ultimately, this is how this Bruins club is built, and how they play, they have each other’s back, and then some. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s endearing. It’s team, and it’s bigger than any one of them.

That said, Sidney Crosby talked of how “…we deserved better…“. Maybe he’s right, but then what would Gregory Campbell deserve? The series is not over, and we have seen, here in the Boston area, that anything can truly happen. I like the B’s chances, especially because of the way the Bruins play as a team. Last night, and into this morning, the Bruins won one for their warrior.

 

Burdened Heart

I sit here with a burdened heart, a lump in my throat, and tears in my eyes, unable to separate myself from my own thoughts. Dwelling not on the past, negative, or the dreary, I search for ways to share, to learn, to pray, and to heal. Maybe, just maybe, I’d be fortunate and blessed enough to help someone else along the way. Not that I need to, I am starting to lose track of the stories swirling around me that are heart-breaking, tear-jerking, and just plain sad to hear. My brother-in-law’s father, my aunt’s battle with stage-four cancer, Boston, Texas, and all the daily battles won and lost.

I read the articles today. I watched the video clips, headlines and updates today. There’s so much pain and hurting in the world. There are people far less fortunate than I. People who don’t know God the way I do. They don’t know the peace and comfort found in prayer and in the reading or sharing of the scriptures. They just hurt and they wander in wonderment of the mammoth-sized cloud of darkness and negativity that looms in the day’s headlines.

Then I started thinking about my last week or two. It’s hard to comprehend sometimes how much is happening in every second of every day. The gorgeous, perfect blue sky I looked at this morning brought a smile to my face and inspiring descriptions to my lips. At the same time, God, the Creator of the beautiful sky, has a plan for all of this. I have often thought about how God has a unique way of allowing certain things to happen, or at least to be noticeable to us, at different times so we can create our own way of coping with events bigger than us. For example, I remember when my grandfather died. He was a great man of God, a preacher, a teacher, one who would recite the scriptures; he had a Christian book store, he had preached on the radio, and lived his life for God. I remember the morning of his funeral service, the day he was to be buried, and a light, pure, white snow fell, just enough to cover everything in a beautiful untouched blanket of white. I remember saying to my parents that God had given the ground a purifying coat, a cleansing for my grandfather’s body to be put to rest one final time.

There’s a plan for all of these things. God has a plan, God’s plan. Two words that make many want to turn and run the other way, God’s plan, because it usually means something that we imperfect humans don’t understand, or don’t want to deal with. Whatever the reaction is, it doesn’t change the plan. When I was younger I fought the plan, I am sure I did. I also didn’t always understand how or why things so terrible could happen to people as part of God’s plan. I am certainly not going to pretend to know or understand all these things now either. I do know that almost always, we are a part of a plan that is much bigger than it appears on the surface.

All I have to do is look at recent events within my own family, and certainly the local and national events that everyone is aware of. With one bit of news, one event, somehow thousands, maybe millions of people are linked together by one story. The news that shatters tranquility here on earth for many is the same news that confirms a loved one’s arrival into eternal happiness. In these moments there is more good news than bad in most cases. The immediate outpouring of kindness, support, love, concern, and protection by banding together as one is heart-warming and sends chills up my spine. The images of those lost, those hurt, or the ones we know affected by the tragedies, or sickness, or disease, make us all wonder. These things make us cry, they make us mad, the make us think, and they make us feel. It’s all part of the plan; God’s plan.

Time will tell how the plan unfolds. Even though it’s God’s plan, we have a role in it. We are to be present and participating in His plan. I am in no way trying to down play any of this; this is a serious matter. There’s a message in most everything and I am willing to bet there’s even more of a wonderful message here as well. Think of the things you have heard, the things you have read, the things you have seen yourself, and the stories of the amazing coming from out of a story that is discouraging, evil, or unfortunate. Often times through the most unthinkable loss or sacrifice comes the greatest gift or the most amazing victory.

Please don’t think that this is over when the news stops running, the stories stop circulating, or the services are done. You and I may be a part of the plan. Anyone of us could be instrumental. Our words, our actions, just might be the right thing at the right time for the one who needs that spoken word or the example of God’s love they were looking for. Really it’s always supposed to be that way. We are human, and our best moments are not all of our moments. Yet the more we think our moments are our best, the more they will be. And the moment we decide that we need to be our best might just be the moment that God’s plan includes us to be the message for someone needing to see that deed, action, or thing that helps them cope and overcome.

My thoughts and prayers are with my sister, her husband Adam, their girls, and Adam’s entire family. It’s a tough time for them all. My thoughts and prayers are with my Aunt Janette and my Uncle Lloyd. I pray for a miracle in her life and God’s will in regard to her battle with cancer. I pray for, and hold in thought, their entire family. My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the Boston Marathon Bombings. People died. People hurt. People saw things they need never see. People were stripped of the beautiful innocence that accompanies the harmonious gathering of strangers when they come together in support of fellow-man, simply because they can. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people and families affected by the explosion in West, Texas. If we want to settle for the face value, there is pain, suffering, hurt, darkness, and despair all around us. If we look a little harder, there is hope, there is goodness, and there is solidarity in a world filled with more and more independent individuality.

I don’t know God’s plan anymore than you do, but I trust it because it is perfect. I take solace in God’s Word, and communication with Him through prayer. There is comfort in the gathering and sharing among family and friends. God is where I go to get help with my burdens. God is who I ask for peace when my mind gets the best of me. God’s plan; at least He has one, which is more than I can say most of the time. Thank God He has a plan. Amen.

Proud to be an American

Sing the Anthem! Sing it to yourself. Sing it together. Sing it to your kids.

Our National Anthem is on my mind. It often is. I can always count on Chicago to take The Star Spangled Banner to another level, and they did it for Boston again last night. They get it. They always get it, just watch.

Desert Storm http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvpxVE_kQXg

9/11 Tribute http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLvJrTwkNlk

Last night, for Boston http://video.blackhawks.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=239390&catid=-6

God Bless the United States of America

Pray for Boston

Pray for Boston.

Sox-Go-Round

I am not sure this piece needs to be any longer than the title. I just wanted to share a few thoughts as a life long Red Sox fan who knows a lot less about them than many of you. First, as the list of accomplishments were read, listed, or discussed as Terry Francona was shunned from the organization, it was apparent to me that this guy won in Boston despite the ownership group. Francona and Bill Carrigan are the only two managers in franchise history to win two World Series titles. Carrigan had a 20-year-old kid named Babe Ruth hurling for him in 1915. Ruth was 41-20 on the mound over those two seasons. Francona won more games as manager of the Red Sox than anyone else with the exception of Joe Cronin. In this age of instant gratification, and what have you done for me lately, Terry did a pretty good job considering he didn’t pick the players and personalities that were brought to Boston. Now Francona might need to buy a ticket to get into Pink Hat Park at Fenway Amusement Central. I will get to this later.

Second, Theo Epstein now heads to the North Side of Chicago with hopes of reversing another curse, or six (the goat, the black cat, ball through Durham’s legs, Buckner’s batting glove, the dropped fly ball, Steve Bartman). Sorry Cubs fans, but my family and I already had to deal with 86 years of this stuff. Even with the signings that completely back fired while Theo was here, his resume is still impressive. I also wonder how many of these acquisitions were handed down to him from ownership and how many were him performing as a good GM, or as a bad GM. It’s hard to tell from where I sit.

Third, David Ortiz talks of the drama in Boston when asked about his future. Think about this for a minute, Ortiz was Mr. Clutch in Boston’s Championship runs in 2004 and 2007. Over those two post seasons he only hit .386 with 8 HR’s, 29 RBI’s, 27 Walks, 29 Runs scored, in 28 Games played. He was our Mr. October, the guy who could do no wrong. The player that would be welcome here forever, right? (That’s what we thought about Francona too) He’s still a fan favorite in Boston, but given that he’s a free agent DH, who hits left-handed, and just lost his biggest advocate in Boston, where do you think he will end up? Oh and did I mention that the Yankees were in the bottom half of almost every single offensive category for DH’s? True. By the way, Boston and Mr. Ortiz were ranked first in many of those same offensive categories. Just some food for thought.

Fourth, I love Fenway Park. But I am thinking I love the Fenway Park that was introduced to me when I was a kid, not the one entering its 100th season next spring. I can still remember walking up the ramp towards the light of day, emerging from the cool, concrete depths, the hard, cold hand railings, and rising up above the field. As I neared the ramp top, I could see the net come into sight, then the Green Monster, and it was all green. I saw the green, green grass, the greenest grass I had ever seen. The brown infield dirt with the infielders whipping the ball around the horn like a blur. Back then they still took infield before the games like the rest of America still does all the way through college ball. The playing field was pristine, the rest of the park was not. Why should it be? Smokey Joe Wood, Tris Speaker, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Joe Cronin, Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Yaz, Luis Tiant, Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Nomar, Pedro Martinez, Manny, and thousands others all played on that field. The greatest collection of baseball talent ever assembled came together for an impromptu meet and greet with the greatest hitter who ever lived on that field before the 1999 All-Star Game. It’s an old ball park and I am glad it’s still there, but it’s been through a lot. I mean, Ted Williams actually hunted pigeons in that old ball yard. I wish all the old ballparks were still around even if the Major League teams weren’t in them. Countless memories are attached to those old ballparks. And sometimes it’s okay for something old to look old, as long as it is here and still functions.

Fifth, I have no problem with the idea of pink hats at Fenway, or anywhere else, for that matter. I know many people who were wearing pink Sox hats long before the term was coined, and these folks are as die-hard Sox fans as I am, if not more so. We shouldn’t always paint with such a broad brush, because there’s beauty in the detail of individuality. There’s also beauty in the simplicity of something designed just right. Something that stands the test of time and becomes an icon for those who have interacted with it. That something is Fenway Park, not the monstrosity it has become. The Sox sell out every game as they draw from all over New England. Many of these sellouts consist of a family who makes a pilgrimage from not only New England, but from around the world just to see Fenway. Many of these people can afford to come see a game there just once, or once a season.

Sixth, Fenway was a destination for most of us without seats and suites all over the place. We went to the park to see the home team play in their sanitary home whites and those unforgettable red numerals on the back. We came to see the ball slam off the monster and how an opposing left fielder would play it. We came to see our generation’s ace on the mound and we didn’t need a radar gun to know how overpowering he was. We came to see a ball rattle around in the door on the left field line, or a ball hug the base of the wall and roll forever in the right field corner. We came to see speed and courage run a ball down in the triangle. We came to see our favorite players, our baseball heroes play a kids game on the pristine playing surface sunken between massive green walls. Knowing full well who had come before them and sensing how those heroes past looked on that same green sanctuary. We came to hear the unmistakable sound of the bat meeting the ball. We came to sing one song that we all knew, our National Anthem. We came to hear the umpire yell, “Play Ball !” Because after all it was baseball that brought us in.

I know that managers, owners, coaches, and players come and go. I also know that the Red Sox fan base, as large as it is, can be a tough group to answer to. Good organizations are good because they have good people in key positions throughout their structure, not because analytic’s generated in a bubble overlooking reality, spit out a player’s name to go and get. The Red Sox just lost two good people in my opinion. Best wishes to the new manager and GM as they stake their livelihood on spreadsheets and computers. People make the world go ’round, and good players win ballgames, but good people who can play well together win championships. I am not ready to say Terry and Theo were the problem yet. I may never say it. Because I love the Red Sox and when they resemble an actual team again I will be here watching and cheering. I just wonder how many fans will lose their grip over the cold winter, and fall off the Sox-Go-Round.

Francona makes one final move, can you blame him?

I know there are a lot of people out there who think Terry Francona carries as much or more blame than the players, Theo Epstein, or the front office do for this season’s epic collapse. I honestly don’t know how to slice the blame pie, and who should get what piece. I do know that Francona, Theo, and the front office never won a single game of the 744 wins Francona managed for Boston. Should we really even need to have this conversation? I mean nobody was ‘blaming’ Francona for the 72 wins Boston posted between May 1st and August 31st this year. I find it odd that at the press conference after game 162 and the interviews in the following 36 hours that Tito looked more tired and worn down than anyone on his roster. Shouldn’t that tell you something?

Terry Francona, came to Boston in the off season between Grady Little (2003) and Reverse the Curse (2004). In 2004 everything went right after game 3 against the Yankees and 86 years of suffering ended. People felt in the depths of their hearts for their loved ones who never lived to see a baseball championship in Boston. Thousands of graves were visited so we could be close to the ones who never got to see the 2004 banner. Many of these folks were the ones who introduced us to the Red Sox, the mesmerizing, green of Fenway, the smells and sounds, the curse, and all things that are unmistakable about our national pastime. Those that came before us and had the passion they couldn’t wait to share with us, to take us to Fenway for the first time, to point out the heroes wearing the home whites, with those red numerals that reflect light at the correct angle. They even explained to us how we should approach the beloved Sox, believe it can be and will be, but look out for the unexpected. It reminds me of the scene from “Field of Dreams” when ‘Shoeless’ Joe shares some wisdom with ‘Moonlight’ Graham, a rookie in the corn field, and says, “he’s not gonna wanna load the bases, so look low and away … but watch out for in your ear.” Be optimistic but don’t get carried away. Well that all changed in 2004 when Terry and ‘The Idiots’ won it all. I would be willing to bet the Sox would have played in Texas today or maybe even hosted the game tonight had this year’s team played with the effort and attitude of the 2004 squad.

So here we are now, 8 years later, winners of 8 consecutive World Series games, and the year known as The Epic Collapse or something to that effect. Terry is leaving town, and we’re not sure who will come in next. I do hope it’s someone who will win and restore order among the 25 players asked to do their job day to day. I hope they’re not worn to the bone from getting lackluster effort out of assets worth tens of millions of dollars per year. I try not to make this about money and I don’t know where else to turn though. Are the playing conditions so tough in Boston that showing up and giving one’s best effort every day is too much to ask? If it is too much, then you’re getting paid too much because at some point on the way to the Bigs you would have played anywhere, anytime, for any reason, and no money because you loved it! You had nothing but the dream of making it to where only very few get too trod. Now you’re there, so show up and play! It’s a game and isn’t that supposed to be fun even if there’s travel, night games, and even fans in other cities cheering against you. How many games would be missed by this squad if it was the 1940’s and every weekend included a double header? Ernie Banks always wanted to play two and this team seemed like weren’t sure they wanted to play even one at times this year.

I have Terry’s enjoyed honest and open approach to the game and the media since he got here. The dozens of interviews and hundreds of press conferences tell me that I do like him and wish his contract was extended. In this age of instant gratification I think we give up on things that are just fine but don’t give them the time fully develop, mature, or come to fruition. Players almost never play their whole career with a single club anymore. Their every move is scrutinized by their own organization while the player being scouted to replace them looks good on paper, in the computer, and the few times they were seen in person. So management makes the move. Or the player has their big year in their ‘contract’ year and signs elsewhere not realizing how good they had it in the lineup they just left or in the city they just represented. So, Terry, what have you done for us lately? I love all the “look yourself in the mirror” stuff the last two days. Give me a break. How about this team, to a man, look themselves in the mirror and tells Terry and management where the problem lies? Lay it on the line; leave it all on the field. This group needs look no further than their clean-up hitter (at times), the strapping lad, Dustin Pedroia, for the right answers and the right way to play the game. This guy thinks he can do anything on a ball field and it doesn’t matter if it’s a road game, cold, wet, a night game or the 10th game in 10 days, and you know what? He can do almost anything on the ball field. Imagine what 25 guys with this mentality could do; oh that’s right we know what they can do. We saw it in 2004 and again in 2007 when that second squad just accepted nothing less than a title. I wonder who managed those clubs.

I for one will miss Francona next season. Unfortunately the last 4 weeks right through today tell me the Red Sox have become largely one of those organizations where the manager is driven out as a result of the passionless group he tries to rally. For some reason this collection of immense talent clearly lacked the passion and spine tingling excitement that comes with lacing them up and coming out of the foxhole on the first base line and battling for one another. Man, I get jacked up just thinking about it. Maybe these guys will find it again for themselves and for the wide eyed excited youngsters that will make their way to Fenway 100th season, led by the hand, with a lesson being taught passed down in every direction they look. Then again, maybe Terry is making the right move as he has so many times over the last 8 seasons.