With Barry Bonds’ girlfriend detailing the physical changes effected by steroids in recent weeks, one wonders about the choice. The first image is of a desperate ballplayer, reaching his late thirties, feeling the natural decline.I imagine Ali fighting Larry Holmes. Let me rephrase: I remember the aged Ali as Holmes’ punching bag, the brutality of unanswered punches.The other story of that beating is that one of Ali’s doctors prescribed “diet” pills for him. The drugs in question made him sluggish. And pathetic. As a young boxing fan, I hadn’t been filled with quite that much sorrow before.
My sorrow today is lighter but wider. It has more to do with the game of baseball than it does with one player. The loss is about the Red Sox, its history and its players, specifically those who played alongside Manny, who are at a loss for words. There were some of us who were baffled by Manny but still kept our affections. There were a few of us who were hopeful for the revival of the Idiots, even if they were in Tampa. One segment on the MLB Network during Spring Training showed him working as hard as any ballplayer could and losing more than twenty pounds, not to mention making major adjustments to his stride to avoid hamstring problems. Painful work.Now the pain is ours.Ortiz compassionately summed it up: “It’s sad.”
But baseball has redemption built into the stats. It has time, which makes the grass sturdy and green..In a few hours the Sox will take the field again, afresh from a laser show and good, old hometown glory.
Here is another guest entry from my former student, the writer, Trenna Field.
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Never mind whether or not a groundhog saw his shadow, the symbol for
spring is when the football season ends and baseball begins. Though spring may
not officially begin until March, the vision for warm weather arises when
Florida becomes more than a winter destination and Arizona becomes a vacation
destination for eager baseball fans.
pitchers and catchers begin their first official workout of the 2011 season,
the media is buzzing with the possibilities of whatever may happen with the Red
Sox. The unknowns are what can lead the team to prepare for the best and become
conscientious of the worse. J.D. Drew has mentioned a bothersome hamstring,
which could be a cause for concern as fans remember the injuries piling up, and
a mounting disabled list at the end of the 2010 season.
media has also attempted to stir up an in-team rivalry between Jenks and
Papelbon, though both have acknowledged a successful organization and a title
seeking team is the priority. Expectations for the upcoming season are set for
the top. The Red Sox are aiming for a World Series, which might leave some
feeling skeptical. Tracey Jackson, a guest on a Today Show segment titled “Why
50 Is Not The New 30” said, “if you set yourself up for expectations you can’t
meet, you’re going to be depressed.” That makes sense, but as the Red Sox have
everything in line for a great season and the passion to play for it, their
expectations are realistic leaving no room for depression. A Red Sox World
Series is quite possible, after all, it is only spring and anything is
Fort Myers is a place where the kinks of the
team can be worked out, on and off the field, and a place that allows baseball
to begin as Fenway Park continues to thaw from the harsh New England winter.
Baseball has officially kicked off an early spring, although the temperature is
still below freezing and the wind chill is unbearable, with something like
opening day to look forward to, the winter is almost a thing of the past, like
the 2010 season.
The laboring days of this last(and lost) weekend of summer have a darkness about them. Leave it to a team with black uniforms to bring out desperation in Beantown. Fans and their early exits from games have been somewhat the norm this year. A few times this season, thousands of fans missed great comebacks. A few times. Yesterday, as reported in the Globe, fans looked as though they were being “chased” out of the park. In some ways, we already knew the Sox have chased themselves out of the postseason, through bad luck and broken bones and sometimes confounding one-run losses.
As some teams begin to see magic numbers appear on the road in front of them, some painful figures have been rung up recently. Baseball Prospectus gives the Sox less than a 5% chance of making the postseason. Other wounds from this weekend include the number of years–34-since the Sox were swept at home for a double-header. This was even before Bucky Dent had a middle name in Boston. The last time the White Sox swept our Sox at Fenway? Ten years ago. Ouch.
My magic number is THREE. There are three games to play, starting tonight against the Rays. A sweep(allow me to dream) would revive the otherwise dim lights in Boston. Three. A number with a long legacy, in literature and religious traditions. “3.” I keep repeating to myself today.
right of the pesky pole notes:
After a vacation in California, including one game at beautiful AT&T Park, where I helped my 7-year old nephew root for his Giants, university life begins again tomorrow.
In today’s New York Times, an incredible story details the discovery of a trove of recorded jazz from the 1930’s, recently unearthed and now in the process of digital transfers. Listening to the 37 second sample of Lester Young soloing in “Tea for Two” gave me chills. This is music that hasn’t been heard since then, when it was broadcast over the radio. Only those in the club or sitting at home next to their radios heard it. Until now
I have been thinking about this story all day and all last night, with time to think, while the Sox were signing prospects during a day of rest. We all needed a rest after the weekend in Texas, right? My central preoccupation has been with the glory of the past. Maybe we don’t always like to think of the past, but why even go there unless we can celebrate. Yes, effective reflection, no matter how painful, let’s say the 1986 World Series, might lead us to a more enlightened state. But equal to the commiseration we rigorously seek out is the desire to recapture the joy of greatness. Characters live this way in songs, as in “Glory Days” by (my) hometown legend, Bruce Springsteen. But then there is the old conundrum, first posited by poets like William Wordsworth: in returning to the beauty of the past are we then reminded of what we don’t have now?
So how bad is it? We keep hearing about the injury plagued year of 2006, when we won only 8, that’s eight, games in the entire month of August. We have already won exactly 8. Some fans, as reported by friends recently returning from Martha’s Vineyard, are paying more attention to the Patriots. Another born and bred New Englander, my former student, Trenna Field, wrote to say, “maybe Pedroia will have something on Tuesday. After all, it’s only August.” I have to thank Trenna for her endless optimism. (By the way, Trenna Field is clearly a great baseball name.) You know that the Rockies won 20 or 21 of their last 22 games in 2007.
What a year, 2007. . .not so long ago really, but somehow in my mind, it feels like decades. That doesn’t mean I won’t celebrate it, even if it’s only seconds of audio clips or footage of Dustin’s game 7 laser show at Fenway against Cleveland. That’s one sure element that we still have in our midst, that spark plug for our team. We know we’ll be raising glasses to him for many years to come. Welcome back.
How about the photo that won the reader’s photo contest in the Globe. Skinny days for the boss, besides glory days.
When I uploaded the photo of tenor saxophonist, Lester Young, my stored images got mixed up with Jon Lester. So my loose connection was not so loose. The two Lesters–greatness abounds.
It’s that time again.
Another occasion to decide the moral consequences of the past. Another opportunity to decide (and actually vote) whether a former Sox player ought to receive cheers or boos when he shows his face, still clean-shaven, in Fenway Park.
At the risk of vanity and sounding like it’s a Thomas’ Trolley-centric universe, I quote from this blog:
“What is important, too, is how one returns. Professor Cafardo at the
Globe has mentioned some important pieces of the whole ritual
yesterday.Manny ignoring people he has known for years and deciding not
to speak to the press all weekend is objectionable. More importantly,
as a fan, I think he could have waved or tipped his hat. He could have
learned something from the way The Johnny Demon so graciously bowed and
tipped his hat before he stepped into the box to almost everyone on the
field, including the ball girls.”
After much thought again about the Johnny Demon issue, I am going to vote in favor of the way I might react at the game, in the seats, not watching the game on television. When I saw Damon play during spring training against the Phillies, the fans booed him heartily. One fan behind me said, “Aw come on, give the guy a break.” There was reason to boo him. He helped defeat the Phils in a crucial series turning victory.
Again, I quote from this blog:
“Then I wondered how feasible it was to keep Damon away from the Yankees. What’s difference between having a 36-year old Cameron and holding onto a Damon, one Globe reader asked. Good question. The Tigers often talk about what a difference he makes in the clubhouse.”
Damon made a difference in a Red Sox uniform, on the field and in the clubhouse. You know the plays.Now, he looks better, much better, in a Detroit uniform.
Let’s celebrate the past, in the best forgiving way possible. It was business and business in baseball can break the heart. But so can a misjudged fly ball or an 86-year spell.
I am going with the 77% of voters and with my would be plans if I were standing in bleachers. Thanks for the memories Johnny.
According to Formosa & Hamburger, in their Baseball Field Guide, there are no rules when it comes to caps. Even more significant is the fact that the rules don’t even mention them(47). As the Red Sox were breaking other rules in the world of fashion, they smoked to a another win, even though it was awkward at first.Even with the walks, the Red Sox got 7 innings of Lesteration* Throughout the first three innings, he was uncomfortable and clearly frustrated with himself. I blame the new hat –It seemed to slip down further on his head, pressing on the ears. Even with its CoolBase technology,something wasn’t right.No worries–they have to wear them only two more times this season. But before we send the entire team off to an episode of What Not to Wear, there are a few things to keep in mind.
This is a Baseball blog, right? So I can have some fun here. It began with Professor Abraham mentioning Tito’s comments on the Extra Bases blog. We can just wear flag patches instead of these “dumb-***” hats, but MLB can’t sell patches, he said in so many words. Several of the reader comments were hysterical. We should mention that MLB will donate $1 to the Welcome Back Veterans Fund. A whole one dollar? I digress, but maybe the bill with Abe Lincoln’s face is more appropriate, on many levels. Then I wouldn’t hesitate at all
About the image above.(Photo Courtesy:Greg Peterson) As I watched the game, I kept wondering why I was having flashbacks to the turn of the century, and not the one we saw in our relatively recent past. Hugh Bedient wore a white hat, as did the whole Red Sox team.The unofficial American League Rookie of the year(20-9, 2.92) in 1912, his career ended after he was drafted for World War 1.In Honor of Bedient, and many others of course, I just added yesterday’s hat to my shopping cart. Go ahead, laugh all you want. My lovely girlfriend has even chimed in, adding that I will look like I just retired and moved to West Palm Beach. Hell, frivolity is part of the game. Enjoy, Baseball friends. Happy Memorial Day.
1) feeling associated with victory, provided by Jon Lester, usually following a win delivered by Clay Buchholz
2) the act of lesterating
3) grit and grace under pressure, even while wearing a silly hat at which your fans and beat writers are poking fun.
Origin: May 30, 2010, Boston, MA, USA, Fenway Park
1. Jollity, exhilaration, hillarity after sweating it out.
You already know the 1908 uniform. Yesterday could have been much worse, as the fans in the stands would have been waiting for Lester & Co to cook some afternoon BBQ.