I'm lying on my blogging station/bed watching the Padres put up a crooked number against the Phillies to come back from down 4-0. It's 7-4 Padres in the bottom of the 5th as I type this. Phillies just changed pitchers, I'm assuming. I missed it in real-time, and I'm not breaking my stride to rewind for a moot detail. (in editing..yes, pitching change).
I fucking love sports, dude. The last few years with Covid, personal shit, and fears of a fascist uprising redirected my focus away from my love of sports. While I'm still worried about the fascists, I'm gonna enjoy life while I can. Sports are one of the best parts of the human experience.
I've written countless blogs about baseball in the seven calendar years of DOL. I love baseball and lived and died with the Red Sox until ownership decided to trade away a Hall of Famer for a pair of foakleys; there are countless blogs about that too, but I don't wanna think about that right now. This is a happy thoughts blog, and nine years ago tonight was one of the happiest nights of my life.
Before I get into that, I wanna keep talking playoff baseball. I love the new format. I've seen people crying on Twitter because the 100+ win NL teams looked like shit, but in the AL, it's 1 vs. 2 in the ALCS (in editing..Astros now lead the series 1-0...great catch by Judge though). Maybe you'd like to see one powerhouse and one nice story per league? But it's year one. I'm sure things will level out over time. One year might be all chalk. This year we have chaos, and it's perfect. That's what October is all about. I'm not crazy about the lack of off days for travel, though. It'd (potentially and likely) make for better pitching match ups. I wouldn't hate to see the LDS round going to best of 7, either to give higher seed more wiggle room (maybe something wild like the higher seed has to win 3 games but the lower has to win 4? That'd probably never work, but that'd be cool).
As for the Boston Red Sox. My current relationship with the Sox is one of a divorcee who still cares about and loves their ex but also wouldn't hate seeing them die, or at very least letting themselves go. I will always cherish the memories of October baseball, and I know since this ownership won those championships, I may come off as ungrateful, but I'm not. Life is complicated, and things are not always black and white. Ownership can still be awful and scuzzy while also technically being responsible for some of my fondest memories. It's like Amazon. I feel guilty using it, but it can be kind of awesome, sometimes.
I was blessed to experience a Red Sox World Series run at 12, 15, 21, and 26 years old. Middle school, high school, college, and post-college. All were very different and worthy of their own blogs. I can't love the Sox the way I used to, even if deep down, I want to. You can't make yourself fall in love again.
Sports and fandom represent many things to people, but one part that I've always latched onto was the sense of community. When I moved to Florida in 6th grade, my ever-developing sports fandom was a part of home I brought with me. It was a way to connect with other transplants when I was down there and a point of pride as the Patriots won two Super Bowls, and the Red Sox broke the curse during my less than two-year stay (Nov '03-July '05) in that swampy sess-pool.
As I've aged, so have my views on sports. Growing up, all I cared about was championships. That's what determined a significant percentage of my happiness. I was fortunate in that sense because they happened frequently (the Pats 10 year Super Bowl drought while always being in the mix and fielding what would've been the greatest team of all time was a very trying time!). I started following the Patriots in 2001; their Super Bowl XXXVI run is one of my earliest football memories. I may have watched other Super Bowls, but Ravens-Giants the season before is the first I can actually remember.
It's natural to get greedy once you've tasted success. I know I'm lucky to witness all that winning and dominance. I still want my teams to win, and I certainly don't want to see prolonged championship droughts (like the Celtics' current dry spell..they may have 17, but I've only been alive for one!), but I also know how incredible those moments are. I want to see other people get to experience them (well, most people...it's always fuck the Yankees, Steelers, Lakers, etc.) during their time on this rock. That's why the 2016 World Series was fantastic. Either way a long-suffering fanbase got to win. I'm like a sports philanthropist in that way. I made my billions off of other people's heartache. Now I'm a little older an have gotten more champions (12) than anyone should in a lifetime, I'm ready to give back...as long is it doesn't come at an expense to my lifestyle.
Like, I used to hate the Canadiens when I followed hockey closer. But now I don't really give a shit. I hope the Bruins do well, but it doesn't matter to me whatsoever. No Bruins loss has ruined my day since like 2015. Even in 2019, I wanted them to win, but I felt next to nothing when they lost Game 7 (I was much more worried about David Ortiz's health). One of my best friends is a Habs fan, and when they went on their Covid Cup run in 2021, I jumped on the bandwagon cause I wanted him to experience a 'ship. I joked about #ourhabbies in one of our group chats whenever we talked puck. That same year one of my buddies, who's a diehard Bucks fan and has been since the day I met him, finally saw his team win it all and even got to a Finals game in person. I was so pumped for him. Obviously, I'd rather see the C's win, but if it's not my team, I want it to be someone I care about or a passionate fanbase that's been waiting for decades. In 2016, when the Cavs were down 3-1 against the Warriors, I started rooting for the comeback, even though idfw Lebron, I wanted to see the Cavs comeback for my boy I call pops. I was with him when they won it all, and I'm sure some of my friends might make fun of me because I get emotional about shit like this, but it was incredible to see how happy he was. I'm glad he got to experience that. I'm sure he wishes he was with fam, but they weren't around, so I watched it with him. I know firsthand how great it feels, especially the first time.
I've loved watching the Padres' playoff run. They've now won the game I referenced at the beginning of this blog...got off track with a phone call and other things (a couple bathroom breaks & a few bowl rips) since I started writing. Sure, I kind of wanted the Mets to beat them, but watching these fans that only have the Padres get to experience this run is incredible. Petco Park's been rocking. How many times have you been able to say that since the place opened? Maybe 6? You can feel the passion through the internet TV 3,000+ miles away. San Diego lost the Chargers, and before this run, the Pads hadn't had a home playoff game (with fans) since 2006 (two losses during a quick 3-1 NLDS loss to the Cardinals). That's a loooong ass time. For reference: I was a freshman in high school in the fall of '06. Now I'm 30. It's essentially half a lifetime ago. So you look at that same POV as a San Diegoite...San Diego in...San Diegan. A 25-year-old Padre fan hasn't had an opportunity to go to a home playoff game since they were in 5th grade. Nobody under like 23 remembers the 2005 or '06 Padres.
No matter how I currently feel about the Boston Red Sox, their 2013 World Series title run is one of my favorite life experiences. I went to 5 games including$1 beard night. It was my 21 summer; needless to say, it was a fun year. 2013 was an unexpected title after one of the worst collapses in baseball history and a miserable 69-93 campaign in 2012. Of course, there's the Boston Strong rallying cry after the Marathon Bombing. We all know how much it meant. For the sake of length, it was a special bearded season.
I enjoyed the ride all year long but didn't expect to win it all. It was a remarkable story, but I remember talking Sox at work that summer and saying I think this team has ALCS loss to the Tigers written all over them. On paper, Detroit was a much better team. Scherzer and Verlander. Miggy was at his peak. Torii Hunter. Prince Fielder. Leyland was great.
The 2013 ALCS (and the entire playoff run) coincided with easily the most challenging part of my college career. I had my history capstone and the longest and hardest **that's what she said** paper I've ever written on a topic I knew little to nothing about (It was on the economic impacts of illegal immigration). Socially I was slinging pies, living with my best friends (there was still plenty of beefin'), crushing @URIprobs, and amidst turbulent times with my ex-gf that I still did stuff with once in a while. Plus, I still had scars from being at the AFC Championship Game in January. That set the whole year off to a rough start, but looking back it was amazing.
Game 2 of the ALCS was on October 13th. Papi's Grand Slam. It saved the season and somehow found a way to unseat a walk-off Tom Brady touchdown pass hours earlier as the day's best Boston sports moment. Selfishly, I was jealous I wasn't there. I had talked to people about going to that game, but things fell through, and I had to watch from the couch in my college house.
When my buddy who went to Game 2 told me he was getting standing-room-only tickets for like $90 and asked if I wanted one, I said yes without hesitation. I wish I remembered more of the small details. It could've been that day; maybe a few before? I think he got tickets after the Sox won game 5; either way, I would be at Fenway with a chance to see the Sox win the pennant.
We got to Fenway early to get the best spots possible.
Part of me doesn't like putting this part of the story on wax, but I mean, with everything being digital now, I think it's okay to admit it. The best part of this whole night was getting onto the Monster. I remember this part vividly because my paranoid ass was terrified. Since my buddy had standing-room-only Monster tickets from Game 2, he scanned those, photoshopped them to say "Home Game 3," and made four copies for us all to watch from 37 feet (even higher cause we were in the back) in the air. Absolute legend move. I bought real standing-room-only tickets for like $90. We used those to get into Fenway, but from being there earlier in the week, he knew we just had to get into the building. They weren't going to scan the tickets again; we just had to get past the usher guarding the Monster. Once up there, we didn't walk to any other part of the stadium to risk showing our papers again. But being up there by scamming the marketed-up playoff ticket market was the peanut butter drizzle (cause idfw cherries) on a brownie sundae of a night. We weren't hurting anybody. Just some sly dogs who love(d) the Sox.
We settled in the 2nd section SRO, right next to a light tower. So if you're reading this, John Henry, you can stroke off knowing we had a significantly obstructed view.
We couldn't see center or right field, but it didn't matter. We were on the Green fucking Monster in a potential-pennant clinching game (and I was right next to a beer vendor and had a few Wachusett Blueberries).
The Dropkick Murphy's played "Shipping Up to Boston" during the pre-game festivities. At 21, I was kind of sick of that song by now with how much I had heard it from the Departed, Papelbon (s/o my 58 brethren)..pretty much every 2 hours for over five years, but even my hardo 21-year-old ass thought it was pretty cool to hear in person.
It was Max Scherzer vs. Clay Buccholz on the mound; two of the best pitchers in the AL that season, although Buccholz was not nearly the same guy he was before the ASG. A Game 2 rematch. Clay was much more solid this night but struggled in the 6th before Franklin Morales let the two men he inherited score. Scherzer was just as sharp for most of the night. He won his first Cy Young that year and was an absolute machine. 21-3, 2.90 ERA, led the AL in WHIP. Would've won Game 2 if it weren't for Big Papi.
2-1 Tigers going into the bottom of the 7th and that's when it happened.
I haven't even mentioned that I ran into a girl from my high school advisory on the Monster. Such a small world! She missed the granny :(
0-2 pitch, Victorino corkscrews a ball to left, and it's coming right at us. I cannot believe it. You're hoping it clears the wall, but you knew the game was tied at the very least. I just wanted to at least tie it at this point. The inning before, the Sox had men on 2nd & 3rd with 1 out and struck out twice to end it. But the ball was coming towards us; it was unreal. I had never been in that position before. A home run was coming toward us like a missile. It landed like 15 feet away, and the Monster and the rest of Fenway exploded in jubilation. It was the 7th inning, but with our bullpen, it might as well of been a walk-off blast. We knew the pennant was ours. Koji wasn't gonna blow a 3-run lead if we got through the 8th. If you slow down the broadcast video like I've done thousands of times since that night, you can see me put my arms in the sky and immediately turn to celebrate with the guys I came with (pause).
(this is not that moment).
It was pure bliss. Earlier in the night, we had a close call with a Pedey foul ball that we thought was gone, but this time it was a no-doubter. The ball landed like 12 feet from me. Everybody was going crazy. People were taking pics with the guy who caught/got it off the bounce, myself included.
A minute after midnight (at least according a vine I made), Koji struck out former Red Sox José Iglesias (thank you so much for booting that grounder in the 7th). The Red Sox were going to the World Series for the first time since 2007!
If you looked closely on that super fuzzy, zoomed in iPhone 4 photo, you can see they screwed up and put "AL East Division Champs" on the board.
I don't want to say I'll never experience anything like that again. I'd love to be in a position to watch one of my teams win it all, but if I never do. I'll always have this night. Nothing John Henry can ever do will take that night away from me. I love the 2013 Red Sox, and being at Fenway to watch to clinch the American League is, without question, the coolest thing I've ever seen since I started breathing nearly 31 years ago; easily a top 3 night of my life.
I went with three guys from the class two years below me. One I have no issues with whatsoever; we're just not friends. I don't dislike him we just don't know each other at all outside of going to the same high school for two years. This was the only time in my life I've ever hung out with him other than maybe a quick what up nod at a party if you ever count that which to me is not on par with witnessing the Boston Red Sox win the pennant atop the Green Monster. He's friends with the other two guys, or at least was then because, again, I don't really know him. Another guy I'm cool with, but we haven't seen in forever. I love that dude and hope he's doing well. His mom was our HS art teacher and was always cool to me because I was an older guy and nice to her son. Hashtag good guy. The last one I consider almost a little brother. I took him under my wing during my junior, his freshman year of football, and he's been my dude ever since. Are there other people I would've liked to experience that with? Sure. I'm sure they'd all say the same too. But it's something we'll always have and I'm glad we experienced it together. I barely know the guy Marc, but if I were to run into him, I'd have an awesome story to reminisce about instead of fumbling through small talk.
Maybe you're not into sports, so it's hard to translate the experience of watching your favorite team win a pennant that nobody expected---on another clutch grand slam mere feet away from you in a series you were utterly outmatched in (Tigers starters broke a strikeout record in 6 games)---during a year where a terrorist bombed a staple of Boston---but I hope you too get to experience a night like that in your lifetime, many nights in fact.
I may never love the Red Sox like I did in 2013, but that was the fucking time of my life. It was nice to go down memory lane and share a few pics with my guy Nino. I'll give you the DOL reader (thank you) a peek.
I've got that shirt in a tote in the basement near my DVDs.
A couple weeks later, I went back to Boston for the parade. I've been to three (2011 Bruins, 2013 Sox, and 2016 Pats). Let's end this 2,600+ worder on that.
Fuck You, you lizard fuck!!!!
I was the #1 Daniel Nava fan in America..he should've played more than Jonny Gomes....dude slashed .303/.385. Nav's had the Sox only hit in Game 1 of the ALCS.