Sunday, August 19, 2007

History Lesson

So many times through Red Sox history, critical points went against the locals. HBO is playing 'Reversing the Curse' with the highlights and the lowlights of the Red Sox experience.

1967 and 1975, the Red Sox were heavy underdogs and lost to the better team. 1978 and the monumental collapse (but incredible rally to get to the playoff), and 1986...what were you doing during Game 6 of 1986? I was in the Intensive Care Unit of Bethesda Naval Hospital, outside of ICU Bay 3, watching it go down.

"The most stunning comeback in baseball history..." how we remember those words from 2004. Eighty-six years of unrequited love and cataclysmic frustration, evaporated in eight games of magic. "It was Edgar Renteria who made the last out of the World Series. He was wearing number 3, the same number as the Babe."

How do the Red Sox affect your life? What are you wearing right now? I've got my Boston Dirt Dogs t-shirt on. On any given practice for the young Melrose girls basketball team, there will always be at least one wearing a Red Sox shirt. If you go into Dunkin' Donuts on any morning, you see Red Sox shirts and caps and jackets. My sister gave me a Red Sox jacket (the red one) for my fiftieth birthday. Can you imagine a better present?

As a child, every summer the Wakefield playgrounds would have a Red Sox day, where you boarded sweltering buses and went in to see an afternoon game in August. We probably paid a buck to sit in the bleachers, and another fifty cents for the bus. Damn it was hot, but nobody complained, we were going to see the Sox.

The game hasn't changed, just the players, more international, with better conditioning and technological improvements like computerized scouting and video monitoring. Pitch counts add 'precision' that the trained eye denies, the pitcher taking more time between pitches (Eric Gagne the other night) or fastballs left up in the zone as the follow-through departs through fatigues implied cowardice.

But it still comes down to who wins that individual battle, the solitary challenge between the craftsman on the hill and the blacksmith's son in the batter's box. That never changes.

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