Tuesday, October 30, 2007

World Series Thoughts

This is going to be a short entry because I'm pretty tired but I wanted to put something here about the Sox and their awesome run to another World Championship. I was so glad to be home for the final three games of the series and I got to experience the win with family and friends in the place that bred my love for baseball and this team. When Seth Smith flailed at the final Jon Papelbon fastball, I rejoiced and did something that I didn't even do when the Red Sox won in 2004.

I cried.

It has been such a long grind of a season, a team made up of unproven rookies and hungry veterans, some who far exceeded or fell far below expectations and still found a way to win 96 regular season games, come back down 3-1 to the Indians and then dispatch the Rockies in the blink of an eye. I was with them from the first pitch of spring training all the way until Sunday night, and the release of emotions came following seven months of holding my breath with this team. I was there earlier this month when Josh Beckett, the Ace of Aces, pitched his heart out for nine innings and brought the Fenway Faithful to their feet one strikeout after another. That night I could tell that something special was happening. They lost their way for three games against Cleveland, but they found it again at just the right time. They needed to be tested if they were going to be champions, and they passed the test to show all of us what the collective power of team and unity can accomplish just as they did three Octobers ago.

Mike Lowell was a deserving MVP, considering he was the MVP of the team over the course of the entire season, but there was a bevy of players that could have laid claim to the trophy. The Red Sox rookie trio (Jacoby Ellsbury, Hideki Okajima, Dustin Pedroia) could not have taken to the spotlight better in the World Series. All four of the Red Sox starters turned in solid showings, including Jon Lester's inspirational outing in the clincher that put the entire series in perspective. Throughout the playoffs, Manny was Manny, and Papi was Papi. Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew overcame the difficulty of their regular seasons to become integral parts of the Sox playoff success. And finishing the games was the wild-eyed closer, Jonathon Papelbon, rested from the regular season and able to go 6 1/3 innings over the final five games. As a friend of mine suggested, the Red Sox don't have a franchise player, they have a franchise team.

The Sox are built up to get back to the Fall Classic many times in the near future. Given the makeup of this team and its ownership, I can't imagine why they won't do it. It's imperative the Sox keep Lowell this offseason. It's not my money, and if it takes four years, screw it. At least we know the effort will always be there. Let some team out West take on 10 years of A-Rod. I won't have anything to do with the guy after the classless display his agent put on Sunday night.

Mostly, I think my emotions came out because I care so deeply about this team, and in effect, the game itself. If it wasn't for baseball, we wouldn't have been subject to Pedroia's inner fire, to Youkilis' unstoppable drive, to Papelbon's burning energy (and killer dance moves). We'd never know about Big Papi's smile, Beckett's glare, and Manny's flowing locks. We could never learn about Tito's calm, Schilling's nerve, and Lester's courage. If it wasn't for baseball, all of our lives would be that much less enriched. And while the tears came down early Monday morning, all I could think was how blessed I was that I had been born with baseball running through my veins, that the one thing I cared about most when I was six can still dominate my thoughts all these years later. As a Red Sox fan, we all feel like we're a part of what's happening. And I can honestly say that being a part of the 2007 Red Sox was a blessing that I'll never forget and never take for granted.

Stay tuned to this blog all winter, because starting next week you will start getting my opinions on all the happenings of the Hot Stove.

Red Sox report to spring training in 107 days. Just thought you might like to know.

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