Monday, October 27, 2014

"Can you believe it?"

Exactly ten years ago, everything changed. Joe Castiglione asked us if we believed it, and at fourteen, I did. I believed, and with the arrogance of fourteen-year-olds everywhere, I thought I understood what it meant.

And I guess I did, on a shallow level. I knew the lore, had read about the near misses, and heard tales of the Curse of the Bambino - though the only real Red Sox tragedy I ever witnessed was the broken look on Tim Wakefield's face at the end of the 2003 ALCS.

So I, like the rest of New England, celebrated with reckless abandon. Granted, as a freshman in high school, my partying was considerably more measured than many other fans, but I was ecstatic nonetheless.

Of course, in the decade since that frenzied celebration, I have come to realize that I can never understand what that night meant to older generations. To my fellow fans who suffered through 1986,  1978, 1975, 1967, and 1946, I can only tip my cap to your perseverance and your faith.

Sure, the Red Sox had been in the playoff hunt twice before I was even ten years old - that alone made me more fortunate than my mother's generation. But despite three playoff exits in my young life, the dull certainty of defeat hadn't set into my psyche by 2004.

I was excited, but I could certainly, as Castiglione asked, "believe it."

I don't buy into the idea that certain fans are better than others. I hate when people look down their noses at fans who they deem "lesser" - and if you've spent any time with me, you'll know how I loathe the uniquely sexist and patronizing idea of the "Pink Hat" fan.

If you've decided you love the Red Sox, that's enough for me. Fenway Park's friendly confines can fit millions through the turnstiles every year, and the metaphorical tent of Red Sox Nation is big enough for millions more.

But I won't deny that there are those who suffer for their fandom more than others. To this end, I'd like to use this anniversary of euphoria to express my admiration for the generations of fans who were subjected to many more years of heartache than I ever endured. You are the backbone of this fandom, and in the spirit of that amazing night ten years ago, I'll leave you once more with the words of Joe Castiglione:

"...for the first time in 86 years, the Red Sox have won baseball's world championship! Can you believe it?"

Friday, October 17, 2014

Wild Card World Series!

Last season, both Wild Card winners were out before the LCS round. The Pirates were ousted by the Cardinals in five games in their NLDS, and in the ALDS, the Rays were taken out by the Red Sox in four.

This year, the Royals and the Giants are not willing to go quietly. Since their respective Wild Card games, neither team has faced elimination - indeed, to the certain chagrin of network executives and advertising departments, none of the series this postseason have made it the maximum five or seven games.

Unfortunately, the efficiency with which the Royals and Giants have dispatched their opponents means we won't have any baseball until Tuesday.

On the bright side, these barren four days will be good preparation for the long winter that awaits on the other side of the World Series. Hopefully, the Royals and Giants can do what no other matchup has done, and extend this thing the whole seven games.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

NL Wild Card: Pirates vs. Giants

Choosing who to root for tonight is basically a no-brainer for me. The most obvious reason is the fact that the Giants have won two World Series titles in the last five years, while the Pirates haven't tasted victory in over three decades.

But as I've noted in this space before, the Pirates boast a player from my home town of North Conway, NH (population: 2,349). Though Jeff Locke isn't starting tonight's game, if Edinson Volquez can best Giants starter Madison Bumgarner, the Redstone Rocket is likely to get a chance moving forward.

The entire region is fiercely proud - we didn't boast nearly as much about our two winter Olympians a few months back as we do about Locke. It's simple supply and demand: if you live in the north mountains, excellent skiers are a dime a dozen, while baseball season is often snow-shortened, making professional-caliber players a rarity.

It's likely that Locke won't see the field tonight - he is, after all, a starter - but I can promise that New Hampshire will be watching for a glimpse of him in the dugout, and rooting for the Pirates to take the win so we can cheer him on in the next round.

It would be difficult for tonight's Wild Card game to top the drama of the Royals twelfth inning walk-off last night, but nothing is impossible in baseball!