At least one Boston team had a successful night in Canada.
The Red Sox have consistency on the road and at home, a consistency that the Bruins seem to lack. Just look at the last two games in Boston, the Bruins lit up the scoreboard, but once back in Vancouver, the struggled with turnovers and keeping control of the puck. The Red Sox haven’t had that problem lately. They were on fire against the Yankees when every player in the starting lineup had a hit and now they added another W against the Jay’s. 7 in a row? The Bruins should take some notes.
I think the key is in the classics. In literature, it’s the classics that are read and re-read, referenced in popular culture, and tend to outshine the new books. Joyce’s Ulysses is celebrated every year on June 16 because it is rough. It is weathered and difficult to break into. Joyce once said, that if readers can’t make it through Ulysses, then they couldn’t make it through life. It’s difficult and sometimes slow and loses its rhythm but it has stayed the course and remained consistent. It’s still celebrated.
The same is for athletes. The classic players, the veterans of the team, the ones who have been in the game before it became a place for product placement and increasing the bottom line for the brand (note Shawn Thornton unable to wear Red Sox hat during press conferences and NHL interviews), are the ones who stand the test of time. They are sometimes slow, don’t always perform to the expectations of the club, and are sometimes considered too old to be relevant or useful in today’s game. But, they stand the test of time.
Wakefield is back in the rotation, a place he deserves to be. At 44, he might be tired compared to the younger, Alfredo Aceves but he is consistent and he walked away with a win on Wednesday night’s game in New York. Wakefield isn’t tired just yet; he deserves to be the starter on Tuesday against the Rays. The Bruin’s 33-year-old Shawn Thornton has been dusted off and joined the team during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, his first game back since Game 3 of the Conference Finals. When Thornton hit the ice, the game reached a new level, with only 9 shifts in Game 3 he fired the team up. In Game 4 his shifts increased and so did the energy of the team, and it showed on the ice and on the scoreboard. Thornton waited nine seasons in the minors before getting his break. Not to mention right wing Mark Recchi (43) or Jason Varitek (39), two more veterans of their games; players who should not be shelved.
These players might seem rough and worn. Tired and outdated, but they have patience. They stand the test of time as the minutes of the game tick away. They know the game from a different time, yet they are still relevant today.
It’s always good to take the classics off the shelf because they can teach the newcomers something about the game. As Joyce wrote in Ulysses, “a man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.” These players have the errors behind them and are leading the teams to new levels of the games they play.
Strike three and game three. Saltlamacchia struck out swinging; at least he swung. The whole team swung during the past three games. Granted, they lost, three times over and it doesn’t look good from afar. Not to mention the loss to Detroit in the makeup game from May 28. The Red Sox have four dark losses in a row. But it could be worse, it could be April again and they could have played worse.
It’s better to look at the little things. It’s a double play to end an inning that has stretched on for too long. It’s Varitek’s homerun during the bottom of the fourth to put the right colored Sox on the scoreboard during the May 31st game. Or Varitek’s base hit in that same game during the bottom of the sixth after 4 runs were gained by the White Sox, just to lift the team again to realize, ‘hey, we’re still playing.’ Ortiz’s Monster homerun in the sixth during yesterday’s game, putting the Red Sox on top, at least for a moment.
The moments that inflate the spirits of the team and the fans, they came back from a rough beginning, they played almost non-stop through the month of May. It’s Jenks coming back after being gone for the month, and coming back to play against his former team. It’s errors made by the umpires, like the fifth inning declaration that Juan Pierre was safe, though all angles (except apparently Marty Foster’s) that Pedroia had tagged him. It’s the little things like Rene Rancourt singing the anthem before the game because the Bruins were in Vancouver. It’s the movement of Saturday’s game from it’s night slot to a 1:00 pm time just so fans can watch the Bruins take on Vancouver. It’s the little things that make the losses not as dark.
In the aftermath of the tornadoes that swept through Western Massachusetts, it’s messy to look from afar. The destruction and sadness is there and leaves a dark mark of loss on the state. But if you look at the little things, you see state police and search teams helping people, you see hospitals setting up extra triage units to help the injured, and you see people grateful and relieved that the majority of things lost can be replaced or rebuilt, realizing, ‘hey, we’re still standing.’
It’s better to look at the little things because the big picture can be messy and overwhelming, and heartbreaking. But it’s in the little things where you find some solace and happiness in the small moments where the right play is made or communities helping one another to clean up and rebuild.
Yes, the Sox were swept, but it was bound to happen. In 162 games, they can’t be expected to win them all. And just because I can’t help it, the Bruins lost to Vancouver with 18.5 seconds left, that’s a hard loss. But, it’s the little things, the fact that Tim Thomas had 36 shots on and only one got in. The things like, another game will come, whether it’s Friday against the Athletics or Saturday’s game 2 against the Canucks. The losses could always be worse and the limited destruction of the tornadoes has given perspective to the games we love.