Garry suggested it’s because we’ve become almost accustomed to their winning — or nearly winning — and thus we’ve become “ho-hum” about it. I don’t think so. I’m pleased the Patriots won. I’m glad they are champions again and I feel sorry for the little ones who have grown up with the Pats and the Sox winning more often than not and discovering that we aren’t going to win all the time forever.
But I could get excited. It was a nice thing for New England. I was pleased to be on the winning side — just not jumping up and down with enthusiasm.
Neither of us was and we both noticed our lack of energy. It was a bit odd. I also know parade day (tomorrow) will be good weather, but nothing really rang that “thrilling” bell.
Like other people, I’m a bit disappointed that our messy politics has gotten mixed with sports, but team owners (all teams, all sports) have held views which are different from my own. Politics has a way of seeping into everything, including sports and art.
At the risk of giving a civics lesson, this IS a pluralistic country. We are not a melting pot where we require everyone to dissolve and become the same as everyone else.
Like it or not, someone we otherwise respect is likely to favor the other side. Do we lock them out because they are not us? Is that where we are going?
Our differences are currently extreme, but I believe they won’t stay that way forever. Our current state of ill-grace doesn’t mean all other humans are unworthy and we should never listen to them. That’s a bad way to run a country and a terrible way to run America.
Robert Kraft is a decent guy. I’ve met him. Garry got to know him pretty well when he was working. That’s the thing about Garry: he had to work with both parties over the years. He liked some better than others, but his job wasn’t to pick and choose the ones he approved of and only work for them. He loathes Donald Trump and his sycophants, but he doesn’t necessarily hate all Republicans because they are on the red team.
Kraft is a Republican. This used to be normal. It was not a reason to hate someone. Robert Kraft raised personal objections to Trump’s attitudes towards sports and other actions of the president — and note that the Patriots did NOT go to the White House. Actually, none of the teams except the one that got mountains of el cheapo hamburgers went. They are probably still suffering from massive acid reflux. Yuck.
Did the prez not think they could afford their own hamburgers? Or did he fail to understand there exist other, better restaurants that could have delivered a nice dinner for the team? And even though MacDonald’s burgers are his favorite food, they might not be everyone else’s favorites?
The point is, we have a pluralistic nation which I fondly hope is going to remain so.
If we lock every door to anyone who disagrees with us politically, we will never find a way to be one nation. I’m no fancier of the GOP, but I understand pluralism is the nature of this land. If we lose that, we have lost ourselves.
So I’m trying with all my might to keep the windows and doors open. If a fresh idea blows in the wind, I might want to waft with it. I hope my brain is able to accept the possibility that something I haven’t yet thought of might turn out to be a good idea.
Let’s not hate so much that we forget other people also think and sometimes, they think a good thought. It’s the only hope we’ve got as a country. It’s the only hope the world has to not become a preview of the next world war.
Unlike baseball, which I enjoy regardless of who is playing, though I admit I prefer seeing our team play when they let us, we aren’t going to discuss how MLB has made it nearly impossible to see one’s home-team without buying a mega cable package or owning season tickets to the sport. That’s another issue which gets a separate cover.
Today is Super Bowl day when the winners of the National and American leagues in football play each other for unbelievably expensive rings and the option of being the talking heads for who knows how many products on television. At least we can still see football on the regular network and not have to pay hundreds of dollars extra to watch our own teams play.
Although most non-football-addicted American think that football is like it used to be 20 years ago, it isn’t. Excessive roughness is a call made constantly on the field. The giant pile-ups of huge guys to destroy the quarter or running back are illegal now. It isn’t like it used to be which I think is very much for the good of the game.
If you have been not watching football because the last time you saw it was the Disney cartoon starring Goofy, you have missed a lot of the changes that have come to the game. It’s still a rough game because sports are rough. All sports are rough, even the ones that don’t look particularly rough.
Take, for example, baseball. Do you know what pitching hundreds of balls over the course of 160 season game does to an arm? Or even the sliding and running … or that crouching the catcher does … do to a human body?
How about horseback riding? Do you know how many jockeys end their lives in wheelchairs? And how many are killed from falls that no helmet will fix?
Sports are hard on humans. All sports are hard on humans. Even sitting at a computer all day long is rough on parts of your body.
So if your reason for not watching football is that it’s too rough for a mortal humanoid, consider warfare and many of the “easy” sports we all are required to learn in school. Volleyball (tore my ankle up on that one), running (how many knees needed rebuilding after that?), shot-putting, pole vaulting, tennis (does your elbow still work?) … all of which take a serious toll on the person playing it.
I know that we all think it’s healthy that our kids get up and go out in the world enjoy physical activity because that’s healthy, right? Healthy activity comes at a price. Knees and backs are destroyed and many are never repaired.
Some folks are stronger than others and can withstand the battering better than others. Some can simply take more abuse, but others can take a lot less and don’t know it until it’s too late.
Like me, for example. I fell off a few horses. I didn’t even fall very hard, but I fell right on my butt. Or more to the point, I feel on the base of my spine. After a while — not a long while, either — I couldn’t walk properly anymore. I didn’t stop riding, even after the surgery which should have stopped me.
How about downhill skiers? And hockey and figure skaters?
There IS no sport that does not take a serious and potentially life-threatening toll on the body performing it.
Players have multiple surgeries on shoulders and elbows and spines and knees and get clobbered badly enough to end their life with sports-induced Alzheimer’s disease.
Don’t be fooled by thinking if something “looks easy” that it is easy. Ballerinas destroy their feet while male dancers crush their spines. The life of a professional dancer is shorter than that of an NFL player. And that’s not even sports. That’s ART.
Does any of this mean we should all stop doing anything risky? Of course not. But we should also be aware that when our kids complain that something is hurting them, to make sure that there’s no serious damage and to get that possible hurting checked by a doctor who actually knows the difference between bruising and serious damage.
I do not even know how many people are twisted into wrecks by middle age from sports they played when they were teenagers.
The lyrics of Kenny Rodgers’ “The Gambler” are applicable in many places today, from sports to politics and beyond.
In the classic western, “Shane”, the hero has sharp words with greedy land baron, Ryker, about violence and the days of the gunfighter being finished. Ryker implies it’s “over” for gunslingers like Shane. Shane retorts “Yes, it is. The difference is — I know it.”
The closing scene of another classic western, “The Magnificent Seven,” has the same message. After the heroic gunfighters have driven a horde of bandits away from a poor village, they are thanked by an elder who tells them the farmers are the only victors because they survive to continue normal lives. Will the gunmen be able to ride or walk away from the profession that has given them fame and money?
As the two surviving gunfighters reluctantly leave the calm of the village, Chris (Yul Brynner) wryly observes. “The old man was right. Only the farmers have won. We lost. We’ll always lose.”
It’s the observation that their way of life is essentially over. They need to find a new way to live if it is possible. The day of the feared, idolized gunfighter is passing into history before their eyes. It’s a bittersweet ending for our heroes.
As I write, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are giving the Los Angeles Chargers a nasty whipping in a playoff game that many felt would show cracks in the vaunted Patriots’ success, would show signs that Brady, the esteemed “GOAT” (Greatest of all time) would show age catching up with him. So far, Brady and the Patriots are winning, running the table with impressive success.
If victory is sustained, will Tom Brady continue to play until he’s in his mid-40s — or retire while he’s still at the top of his game and is recognized as the greatest quarterback in professional football history? It appears to be a no-brainer for Brady while many of his greatest admirers feel Tom Terrific should walk away he’s still physically intact.
When to walk away is a problem faced by many successful people who never want the music, money, or applause to stop.
In politics, it goes beyond the lives of the public official and his family. It impacts countless families represented by the Pol. Power is the elixir that our elected officials are reluctant to yield.
I remember afternoons with the legendary John McCormack, the one time widely respected Speaker of the House. I lunched with McCormack who usually sat alone at one of Boston’s iconic restaurants. “Old Man Mac” as he was affectionately called by friends, would observe people at other tables. Usually younger politicians, their aides, and lobbyists trying to curry favor.
“Mac” would chuckle to himself, wiggling his fingers at the other tables. He’d speak to me in a somewhat hoarse voice. “Son, those fellas don’t get it. It’s not a game. They don’t know what they’re doing and don’t care. They’re ignorant and blissfully happy in their ignorance.”
I’d listen closely as this venerable man schooled me in living history. He said the younger officials were making deals for reelection while ignoring promises made in their previous campaign. He laughed sadly, “You’ll never get the job done unless you listen to the people. It takes years.”
He paused, shook his head and continued, “Just when you get to know what you’re doing, it’s time to walk away.” I stared at John McCormack. “You must walk away because you’re too old. Your mind argues with your body. But it’s obvious when you shave with toothpaste.”
I repressed a smile but he was laughing. “It’s not funny, really. You’re young, but it’ll happen to you. Trust me.”
I remember sharing the McCormack stories with Tip O’Neill, another widely respected Speaker of the House who shared lunches and stories with me.
All Politics Are Localwas O’Neill’s mantra. He was a man of his word. He nodded in agreement about John McCormack’s advice about knowing when to walk away. Tip O’Neill was keen about helping young politicians who could “carry the ball” when he walked away. He shared stories about colleagues who snored their way through crucial hearings. I’m sure Tip had advice for then young and rising Congressmen like Ed Markey — who we profiled in a shameless rip off of “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.”
These days, we look at video snippets of veteran pols who walk in lock step with the President. These are seasoned officials who’ve made countless promises to do the right thing for their constituents. The recent mid-term elections were loud mandates for some of these pols that it’s time to walk away from the table.
Kenny Rogers – The Gambler
It appears some of our leaders prefer to hold their cards. Maybe they should listen to “The Gambler” again.
In just about a month, baseball’s “spring training” begins for 2019. It’s earlier than usual this year. Garry explained that the Red Sox were playing the Yankees in London, so the season was starting early.
What? They are doing what and where? So, in honor of the upcoming season, a little remembrance of baseball seasons past.
“It’s an exciting afternoon here at Petco,” the announcer says. The Padres are playing the Mets. At Petco Park. The mental image this formed in my head were utterly un-baseball, totally non-sporting. This whole branding thing is out of hand.
I looked up from the computer, wondering if we needed more dog food and biscuits. We’re forever running short.
But next, the announcer points out the pitcher has been, so far, throwing a no-hitter. Never, in Padre history has any pitcher thrown a no-hitter, so this should have been riveting baseball. Except the announcers couldn’t seem to focus on the game and instead, were busy talking all kinds of nonsense while showing clips of everything but the game in progress. Ultimately, I suppose it didn’t matter since the pitcher gave up three hits but still, they might have at least given the kid his time in the sun.
Finally, they pointed out the right-hander “… has a great, boring fastball.”
This made me wonder if they should be playing any kind of game at Petco, especially if the pitcher’s fastball is boring. I understand they are actually saying something technical about the pitch. Nonetheless, words matter.
Boring has multiple meanings, the most common being dull. So how boring was that fastball? And doesn’t Petco Park sound like a dog park to you?
Someone once told me I was “branding” my photographs by signing them. No, I’m not. I sign my art because I’m proud of it. Branding would be if I sold my blog to Costco, after which this was no longer Serendipity, but Costco Web Thoughts — but I still did the writing and photography while they paid to put their corporate name on my work.
That would be branding.
Garry points out the Padres not only have a crappy team and awful branding — Petco really doesn’t work as a stadium name — but they wear ugly uniforms. From Garry, that is complete condemnation.
Whatever else is wrong with the Red Sox, at least they have not turned Fenway into Burger King Stadium. Or Walmart Watcharama. And, to the best of my knowledge, the pitchers throw highly entertaining fastballs.
For some of you kids — Note: If you are under 40, you’re a kid — that’s a long time. For us older fans, it was just the other day. After 86 years of being the downtrodden underdogs of baseball, the Red Sox rose from their ashes and won a world series. They won another one in 2007 and 2013 — and nailed it again last year.
So I guess we aren’t underdogs anymore. But we still think like underdogs. We are always surprised when we win, amazed when we recover from losing to winning.
Then there are the Patriots. I remember when they never won anything. Then, one day, there was Tom Brady … and since then, we’ve been winning a lot. Not every year, but often enough that it feels like every year.
A lot of younger sports fans can’t imagine a year when the Patriots aren’t in the playoffs at least and usually in the Super Bowl. They aren’t old enough to remember. But Brady is 41 and no matter how hard he plays, he’s going to give it up sooner rather than later. Then, it will be time to rebuild and everyone will be very grumpy.
It’s gone the other way for the Celtics. I remember when it either LA or Boston winning every year. Year after year. And then they got old and the team had to rebuild. They did it, came back … but now they are rebuilding. Again.
That’s the way it is in sports. Players are great, they get old, they retire and they start over. Maybe that’s how we should do our government. When they all get old, time to sweep them away and rebuild.
I know in this age of hanging on the edge of constant crisis all-the-time, many people think sports are trivial. Personally, I think it’s the government that’s trivial. At least players on the field have actual skills. They can hit the ball, throw a pass, take a jump shot.
What can politicians do except argue and never get anything done?
Really, sports is something in which you can be involved that is not political. You can root, rage, and rant. Regardless, you know that win, lose or draw, the world won’t end. You can love your team, but if they lose, there’s always next year and no one will die because the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, or Celtics didn’t go all the way.
Politically, we may indeed be heading for the end of the world, but at least we understand sports begin and end in a stadium or arena. If they lose, there’s always next year. And the year after — assuming the rest of the world doesn’t end before we get there.
Garry retired to the bedroom after the 10th inning. Not that he was giving up on the game. He just wanted to watch it in bed. I’m more comfortable sitting up, so I stayed in the living room.
Sometime after midnight, the dogs got restless. I was sitting on their bed. Mind you, they have another entire sofa and right now, all three of them are in a coma on it. At night, though, they like to spread out. They give us the evil eye. Mental arrows: ” Pass the late night treats and go to your OWN beds!” Woof.
Game three of the World Series. A pitcher’s battle. It’s the ninth inning and the score is Angels – 1 and Red Sox – 0. Everyone has played brilliantly. I’m willing to give this one to the Dodgers, but in the top of the ninth, the Sox got a singleton homer and at the bottom of the inning, the score was 1-1. There are no”ties” in baseball (or for that matter, basketball or football either). Only hockey allows tied games. And in this case, this being the World Series, they were going to play forever if necessary.
They ran out of baseballs twice. Or was it three times? Four times? That actually meant hundreds of balls were all over the park.
“Game 3 was the longest postseason game in MLB history at seven hours, 20 minutes. It surpassed the previous record of six hours, 23 minutes, which was set in Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS between the Giants and Nationals in Washington (San Francisco won that game, 2-1, in 18 innings).
• Game 3 was only the eighth game of any kind (regular season or postseason) since at least 1908 to exceed seven hours in length. The last was on Aug. 24, 2013, between the Phillies and D-backs, which lasted seven hours, six minutes (Arizona won, 12-7, in 18 innings).
• In terms of longest World Series games, Game 3 eclipsed Game 3 of the 2005 World Series in total length — that game between the White Sox and Astros was five hours, 41 minutes, ending in a 7-5 Chicago victory in 14 innings at Minute Maid Park. The White Sox went on to sweep the Astros for their first World Series title in 88 years.
Friday’s Game 3 between the Red Sox and Dodgers also set a new record for longest World Series game in terms of innings, at 18. The aforementioned Game 3 in 2005, as well as Game 1 in 2015 (Royals 5, Mets 4) and Game 2 in 1916 between the same two franchises that are playing in this year’s Fall Classic (Dodgers 2, Red Sox 1) held the previous mark at 14 innings.
• To put the time it took to play Game 3 in perspective, consider this note from STATS: The entire 1939 World Series finished in less time, wrapping up in a tidy seven hours, five minutes. The Yankees swept the Reds in that one, with none of the four games lasting longer than two hours, four minutes.”
We started watching around 8:30 in the evening. At three in the morning, I came out of the bathroom and the game was still tied at 2 to 2. I asked Garry what would happen if the game went on so long it bumped into the next day’s game?
“Interesting question,” he said. I had a mental image of the game that never ended. Thousands of baseballs later, the exhausted teams, no longer able to throw, run, or bat would just lay in their places on the field and sleep on the grass.
Regardless, both teams used everybody. Every player, every pitcher. Everyone looked tired and beat up. How will they play today? No one can run. They will all limp from base to base.
It was an adorable game in a baseball kind of way. When somewhere around the 14th or 15th inning, Cora used his last batter — which meant there was no one else he could use who was actually a batter — you had to figure something was bound to happen.
I was coming back out of the bathroom (again) during which time the Dodgers had hit a homer.
The game was over. Finally. Garry flipped off the light and I murmured “I thought it would never end!” By then, I didn’t care who won. I was just glad it was finished. I’m sure the players, announcers, even the crew agreed.
And tonight, minus the rain and the lightning, game two commenced … and we won. Two down, two to go.
No power outage and there will be a day off, then they will be off to L.A. It was 47 degrees (8.3 Celsius) in Boston. It will be hot in L.A. It was a good day.
Maybe the Sox really ARE the superpower team?
Yes, we won. Again. So far, and even better!!
I’ve asked my “Uncle Louie” to supply the music for this piece. So much of what we’ve shared and written this year has been tinged with negativity. It’s the state of our nation and world – greeted by dawn tweets and midnight White House tantrums.
Baseball has been my salvation. It has been for most of my life. I’ve escaped to the field of dreams from youth, rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers, to the 20 something years cheering for Casey’s inept New York Mets, to retirement years yelling for the Red Sox to exorcise decades of futility.
This year, the sons of Teddy Ballgame have produced perhaps the best team ever to play at Fenway Park, exceeding even those early years when Babe Ruth was our Mr.October. Regardless of how the Sox fare in the upcoming World Series, they’ve already given us a season about which we can ponder for years to come.
This piece has a different feel for me.
There’s no “David Versus Goliath” theme for our hometown team. For decades, we could point to the Bambino curse and generations of despair marked by garish plays like “… the ball went right through Buckner’s legs,” and “… there’s a long drive outta here. The Red Sox lose — thanks to the bat of Bucky fuc##ng Dent.”
I could sprinkle images of past stories with snapshot memories of music, movies, politics. Iconic stories covered along with personal interviews with major players.
Not this year. We’re on the outside, looking in. Like regular fans.
Our TV baseball package has precluded us from watching Sox games live. We’ve been able to follow all the other teams — except the Sox. Ironically, I’ve seen more games of our blood rivals, the New York Yankees than the Bosox. It’s reduced my nightly high anxiety where I frantically reach for my blood pressure meds as another game lurches on the high cliff of danger.
Marilyn is the score updater with reports from her computer as we watch Aussie melodramas or our favorite procedurals. It’s a different feel.
Marilyn tells me, “We won again.” I allow myself a sigh of satisfaction and look forward to reading the sports section online the next day. It’s a new world!
Pundits outside New England are pointing out that the Red Sox are seeking their 4th World Championship in 14 years. It’s the national attitude faced by the Bronx Bombers for so many years. There’s no underdog love for our Red Sox in small towns and big cities across the country as the World Series fervor begins.
I look at this year’s Red Sox and smile. A paternal smile. A grandfather’s pride.
I don’t have any inside anecdotes. I appreciate the growth and maturation of the players. There’s an irony to how this team is constructed. Mookie Betts, the frontrunner for “Most Valuable Player” honors wasn’t the first choice to be the franchise player he is.
When the talented Jacoby Ellsbury bolted from the Red Sox to the Yankees for a mega contract 6-years ago, we felt betrayed again. We wondered how Boston would revive its outfield.
The Sox Suits said they had a youngster with huge potential. He was an infielder with an impressive minor league career. Fine, but how does an infielder help us with the outfield gap and power loss with Ellsbury’s flight to Gotham?
The question rippled with tsunami-like waves across Red Sox Nation.
I remember watching a spring training game with a young — very young –Red Sox outfield. Who were these players? Too young to shave and, certainly, not ready for prime time baseball! There was Jackie Bradley Jr. who roamed centerfield like a young Willie Mays. The aforementioned Mookie Betts seemed okay in right field, but there was more interest in his first name than his player bonafides.
Many of us wondered if he was related to Mookie Wilson, the one-time Mets star who hit the ball that went through Bill Buckner’s legs in the ill-fated 1986 World Series.
Our brave, new world was just beginning.
The next five years included a World Series triumph, 3 Eastern Division crowns and 2 (3?) last place finishes. These guys were definitely the spawn of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were overhauling their team and presenting baseball with an intriguing collection of young sluggers. We were scared out of our retro Red Sox. I admit to angst and anxiety all winter as I watched the video and stats of these youthful Pin-stripers. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, and the newly acquired Giancarlo Stanton who’d come close to 60 home runs as the National League MVP last year.
Surely, New York would crush the Red Sox like Rob Gronkowski plowing through a defensive line of mortal defense players. It didn’t look good as the 2018 season rolled around. I avoided reading pre-season predictions, something that was a rite of spring for most of my 76 years.
The Yankees were the flavor of the year team, biding their time to acquire their 28th World Series title.
My anxiety ramped up when I realized our baseball TV package excluded live Red Sox games. Surely, that was a sign. I wouldn’t be able to see the Sox doomed chase of the Yankees.
A funny thing happened along the way.
The Red Sox won the regular season opener. An olive branch, I thought with cynicism creeping through my fevered fan’s brain. But the Sox kept winning. Game after game. Injuries and illnesses, they kept winning.
Meanwhile, the vaunted Yankees stumbled off to a mediocre start. A month into the season, the Red Sox were in first place and had established a nice distance from New York and every other American League Eastern Division team.
I scratched my head, watching a Yanks game. The young sluggers were struggling. The pitchers were inconsistent. I laughed at the Yankee broadcasters who smugly made excuses for the team which, they said with enormous confidence, would right itself and catch the runaway Red Sox who they referred to sneeringly as “that other team.”
I dared to wonder.
Soon, the Sox, aka “The Sawx” to sports journalists outside New England, were highlighted nightly on the national sports outlets. Old beisbol-wise guys were marveling over J.D. Martinez who was everything and more as our big-ticket free agent slugger. Boston’s “3 Bee” outfield — Andrew Benintendi, JBJ (Jackie Bradley, Jr.), and **MOOKIE** Betts were making highlight-reel defensive plays and mashing the horsehide with incredible regularity.
As the regular season unfolded, the Sox kept winning. The Yankees improved and gave chase, providing a little drama … but the Sox never fell behind. Not once. Their longest loss was three games. “YES,” the Yankees Broadcast Network, relentlessly told fans that the Sox would fold and succumb to the mighty pinstripers. Yes. I believed “YES.”
Marilyn wasn’t so sure and kept commenting, “We are playing really well, you know? Like … all the time.” We, the skeptics, were exposed as the Sox continued to roll through the regular season, spiced by a late August sweep of the Bronx Boys that left us giddy in Red Sox Nation.
I noted, with surprise, that the Sox were doing all “the little things” that mark a championship team. They were disciplined and aggressive at the plate. They ran the bases with abandon and played defense like never seen before, at home and on the road. They even BUNTED – something akin to walking on water in New England.
Rookie manager Alex Cora, a former utility player and member of past Sox teams, pushed all the right buttons. He utilized all the players on his roster.
Cora had the respect of players who “dissed” previous managers. He didn’t shirk from pulling pitchers who were tiring but nonetheless argued to “get one more inning.” That argument had severely cost previous managers and Sox teams. Cora was honest and straightforward with players as well as upper management and media.
He was a breath of fresh air from the “Bull Durham” baseball clichés of the past.
Boston, to almost everyone’s disbelief, in and outside of Red Sox Nation, swept past the Yankees and defending World Champions Houston Astros, to await the World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers as their opponent. The Dodgers soundly defeated the stubborn Milwaukee Brewers to advance to baseball’s biggest stage.
It’s going to be a very interesting series. Many of us have a tinge of Dodger Blue from our childhood days as Brooklyn Dodger fans. The Boys With Mics are calling the Dodgers underdogs because they haven’t won a World Series in 30 years. Not since Kirk Gibson’s iconic home run off Dennis Eckersley.
A moment remembered with Vin Scully’s perfect line: “In the year of the improbable, the impossible has happened.” Here’s hoping the now-retired Vin Scully graces Boston and offers a few more memorable game descriptions.
The Cathedral of Baseball is open. It’s diverting our attention from a world gone crazy.
Here’s to the Boys of Summer who’ve made this Autumn our field of dreams.
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