How I Got Here and Why You'll Hopefully Care a Little
1985 is a long time ago, I mention this because that's when I attended my first Sox game at Fenway. At least that's what I'm told because, who really remembers things from when they were 6 anyways? We took a bus trip with my dad's work and they played the Yankees, end of memory. There was no way I could have known on that day the love that would develop for what is in my eyes the greatest game in the world. Baseball and specifically the Red Sox took on an important role in my life, constantly reading about, watching and listening to everything baseball. I would look over box scores in the morning paper for hours during breakfast, knew every starting lineup and pitching staff of every team in the majors. It's been 26 years since and I still haven't gone to school or worked on the season opener, the single best day of the year and my own personal religious holiday.
I remember my dad taking me to games and it always seemed like we just missed Clemens instead having to settle for Al Nipper. I grew up idolizing Clemens, my favorite athlete of all time at that point and eventually a life lesson I still haven't gotten over. I remember the confidence that he would lead the Sox to a title, then watching him continue to fail in big spots before finally mailing it in and then bolting town without ever acknowledging the Boston fans. Even before the Yankee years and the Mitchell report he was dead to me, but not before he managed to kill a little of the wide eyed optimistic sports fan inside me.
I remember the early Pedro years as a gift most fans don't ever get to experience. I was at Pedro's first Fenway start. It was an afternoon game against Seattle where the entire park hung on every pitch, stood for every two strike count and unknowingly witnessed the first piece of a long overdue World Title. The next few years became appointment viewing when he pitched. The one-hit, 17 K gem in Yankee Stadium was the absolute pinnacle of his individual performances, as well as the greatest pitched game I've ever seen. Unmatched in his dominance and personality, Pedro quickly filled the void left by Clemens and became, in my opinion, the most important player acquisition for the Sox since 1959 when they signed a young potato farmer from Long Island with an unpronounceable name (make your guesses in the comments section).
I remember 2003, my favorite sports team of all time. A season that I enjoyed watching more than any other, ending on an October night in New York that led to me almost getting run over after I silently wandered out of a Fenway area bar and right into the middle of Kenmore square without realizing it. Completely zoned out as I replayed the last hit over and over in my head just wishing something, ANYTHING would knock that ball down. Snapping out of it only when the car horn started blaring. The worst night of my life to date and one that I refused to acknowledge until the following season was already underway. To this day I've never allowed myself to re-watch that game.
I remember the blur that was October 2004. The highs of Ortiz's homerun to end the Anaheim series, the lows of being inside Fenway for the 19 - 8 beat down by the Yanks. Don't let anyone tell you they left that game optimistic the Sox would come back, it's revisionist history and a lie. Without saying a word, we all acknowledged that we thought they were cooked, you could see it all over everyone's face as they walked down Yawkey Way. In the interest of full disclosure I can tell you I didn't see Dave Roberts' steal live. I turned the game off after the A-Rod homerun, furious that they would roll over like that, underestimating that team's character and heart. A huge regret, to this day. There was the unimaginable stress of the next 3 days, the weird feeling during the late innings of game 5 and into game 6 that breaks were finally starting to go the Sox way for the first time ever. Schilling willing himself into Boston Sports Lore and then the eruption of 86 years of frustration that was Game 7.
I remember calling my dad immediately after Foulke tossed the ball to Mientkiewicz. Sitting on the ground in the alley behind a bar in Bridgewater, MA the two of us only able to say "I can't believe this" over and over again. A moment I worried I'd never get to experience, yet never stopped believing I would. Baseball has always meant a lot, maybe a little too much to me. Which is how I got here today, when the opportunity to write about my favorite team came up I had to take it. The chance to connect with other fans who share the same memories, have the same card collections and kept photo albums filled with old ticket stubs and newspaper clippings, was such an appealing thought. I'm really looking forward to this, along with the back and forth we will have, I hope you all enjoy what I come up with.