Monday, September 30, 2013

Pulling for the #Rangers

Today, I'm rooting for the Rangers by wearing my one and only Texas Rangers shirt (featuring second baseman Ian Kinsler, of course). I know conventional wisdom says the Red Sox have a better chance to beat the Rays (against whom they are 12-7) than the Rangers (2-4), but I disagree.

Three of the four Red Sox losses to the Rangers came during a series sweep, in Arlington, at the beginning of May. The Red Sox are not the same team that they were from May 3-5th, and neither are the Rangers, not to mention the fact that the Sox have now earned home field advantage through the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Rays have faced the Sox nineteen times this year, and while they haven't seemed to figure Boston out, they're much more familiar with the Sox's playing style.

In the end, it might not matter. Whoever wins tonight's one -game playoff will then have to play yet another one-game playoff against the streaking Cleveland Indians, winners of their last ten games in a row. Tito's team will get the advantage of taking on whoever survives the one-and-done play-in to the Wild Card round, and all the pitcher attrition that will entail.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox get to relax until Friday, making roster decisions and growing out those beards, while the competition fights to get to that point.

Not that there's really much danger of this team taking the first round (or any round) of the playoffs for granted, but it goes without saying that a best of five series can be dangerous. If the last few years have taught Red Sox fans anything, it's that playoff appearances aren't to be taken lightly - they don't come around every year.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

"We're not done here."

Home Opener 2013, Fenway Park
©Kayla Chadwick
One hundred and sixty-one games ago, who would have predicted that we would be here? Sitting comfortably at the top of the American League East, a full seven games ahead of the second-place Tampa Bay Rays, and a whopping twenty-three games ahead of the vaunted preseason divisional darlings, the Toronto Blue Jays.

Indeed, with a win today, the Sox will be the sole owners of the best record in baseball - the worst they can do is to tie for best record (if they lose to the Orioles and the Cardinals beat the Cubs this afternoon).

But this season has been about so much more than the team's record, even more than 33 series wins, or a team ERA of 3.77, or clinching home field advantage throughout the playoffs. It's been about redemption. About proving that 2012 (and the tail-end of 2011) can be put behind us. About a team that values wins over personal achievements.

Most of all, it's about what happens when you keep the faith. This is a team that never gives up, that plays for each other, and relishes winning more than anything else. This is a team that didn't celebrate upon clinching a playoff spot, and when they won they AL East, the most common sentiment was: "We're not done here."

This is a team that put the entire city of Boston on its back after an unthinkable tragedy, and with a rallying cry of "Boston Strong," proceeded to own the American League. This team is something special, and I have a hunch that we as fans are about to be treated to a memorable postseason.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Three months ago, I wrote a post extolling the virtues of the various beards of the 2013 Boston Red Sox. It was intended as a whimsical post: I thought the scruffy beards were fun, and fitting for the kind of "anything goes" personality the team was developing. 

It has since become the most viewed post on my blog, as Red Sox fans actively search for information about their favorite bearded baseball team. The Red Sox social media team has finally caught on to this phenomenon, and responded with enthusiasm, producing images like these:

For Twitter

For Facebook

They've introduced a hashtag (now useable on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) for fans to use when expressing their love for the 2013 Red Sox: #GetBeard.

They're even using the beard-mania to get fans into Fenway (I can't believe attendance is a problem right now, but that's a different issue), at the lowest price I've seen in my lifetime:

That's right, bearded Sox fans: you can see the Red Sox take on the Orioles next Wednesday for just $1! And for the ladies, children, and sparsely whiskered gentlemen, fake beards and even drawn-on beards will get you that same incredibly low ticket price.

None of this would be possible without the incredible beards of the men on the field: though Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes have the fluffiest beards on the team, nearly all of their teammates are giving them a run for their money.

By far the greatest unforeseen consequence of a bearded team is how much they all seem to revel in the beards of their cohorts; every time a bearded player returns to the dugout after a successful play or at-bat, his teammates tug on his beard in jubilation:

It's part of what makes this team so easy to love: the camaraderie is impossible to miss, and their never-give-up attitude and winning record are just icing on the cake. As the Red Sox continue their (hopefully) relentless march back into the playoffs, I'm developing beard envy - and though it's a problem I never anticipated having, I'm totally okay with it.