P.S.-Pooh Says...

"What day is it? - 'It's today' - squeaked Piglet. 'My favourite day' - said Pooh."- A.A. Milne

02 November 2013

Do You Believe in Beards! The Healing Season

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. ~A. Bartlett Giamatti, "The Green Fields of the Mind," Yale Alumni Magazine, November 1977

I noticed last night that sitting on my bedside table is a book I started, not sure when, but the bookmark sits in place where I left it-not even sure I remember the story I was reading. It seems so long ago that I put that book aside in favor of October Baseball. I love that phrase-October Baseball. For the past month it has been ALL about baseball, scheduling life around first pitch and late nights listening til the last out.  Now suddenly November.  The gardens are clinging to literally the last roses, the leaves are blowing everywhere and I may have to break down and finally click on the heat.  The hardest part of the calendar turning, however, is the end of baseball season...but Oh What an End!

For my Boston Red Sox this was the quintessential "Who Da Thunk" Season.  When last we left our Boys of Summer we thought we would never watch them play again. Why would we when they imploded at the end of 2011 and never showed up except on the drama pages in 2012.  Being a baseball fan, especially in Boston, however, means once Spring Training rolls around all is forgiven and we start with a clean slate, a new year. Yet even with a new manager with a familiar face, no one had any real hope that the 2013 Boston Red Sox would still be playing meaningful games come fall-but play they did... with heart and character and pure joy.  For those of us who believe in the romance of baseball this season had everything, it was almost surreal how mythic the games became, how each player would make a difference in the outcome and how character counted.  This season was in a word perfect...it had everything  we could hope for and so much more.

"We're gonna play til they tell us to stop" Dustin Pedroia

A collection of characters with character, bearded and bruised, they played as a team  from day one.-you never knew who it would be that would come through in the bottom of the 9th.  If one went down another would pick them up.  If one had to sit he would cheer his replacement on instead of sitting on the bench pouting.  It was a season of redemption for individual players and for an organization that had to win us back as fans.  Together they got dirty and played what would become a fairytale season complete with walk offs, nail biting 9th innings, rallying pep talks from a big guy with determination and all heart, and even rainbows that would tell of the victory to come.

 In an age of absurd salaries, lazy players, and tainted records the real game often gets lost.  It is not just about 9 innings or 27 outs.  Baseball is about Team- and for 162 games as fans we take a journey with that team   This year for the city of Boston baseball was more than just an afternoon at the park or a ride with the top down with the radio playing the crack of the bats against a cheering crowd. This season it would be baseball, and most especially this Team, that would bring not only wins, but also hope.  After the horrors of the Marathon bombings and the events of the week of April 15, Boston looked to the place where we could all come together, forget about fear and incredible tragedy, and just watch a game.  That Saturday after our city was locked down we came to Fenway Park. The city was still on edge but it would be the Red Sox who led the way to Boston Strong.  We got up, we went to work like they did, and we began the process of healing a city that would sparkle through the darkest time.

  So ironic that it would be a team we discarded and more or less abandoned after the debacle of 2012 that would carry us through. It was as if we needed them more than ever, and this whiskered group that no one saw coming, and no one believed would go anywhere this season, who would answer the quiet call to give a city in pain something to hold onto, something to believe in, something to celebrate. Of course baseball alone cannot bring a city back, but a team that plays with such heart, a team that on paper was not the most talented, a team that simply wanted to play baseball , could and did bring Boston together and help us all believe that our city would be OK... and so once more would our beloved team.  

 For many years I left baseball, it was too hard to watch without the ones who taught me to love the game sitting beside me.  I came back eventually and discovered in 2004 that baseball even with tears is a legacy passed down, to be cherished and shared, especially if you are from Boston. Today as the duck boats rolled out from Fenway Park and traveled down Boylston Street right across the Boston Marathon Finish Line, the location of the bombings of April 15, 2 million strong cheered and cried as there was clear joy in this city. Even as we remembered the pain that for so many will never go away, we had our boys leading a parade that will keep us warm til Opening Day and beyond.  Sure baseball is a kids game, but it can also be a gift.