September 2007

Goodwin, A-Rod, and an 8 year-old GM

Surprised_babyVote NOW for president of Red Sox Nation at www.redsoxnation.com/president.

This photo (left) depicts exactly how I felt at the moment Doris Kearns Goodwin said in her taped address at the presidential debate on Thursday, "I hereby announce that I am withdrawing my candidacy and endorsing Rob Crawford for president."

It was a stunning moment. I don’t remember what I said when Tim Russert asked me for my reaction, but I now know how Clay Buchholz felt right after his no-hitter when Tina Cervasio asked him for his reaction. "Um, did that really just happen?" (By the way, someone should have asked me, What’s your reaction to having Tim Russert look you in the eye and say in a searing way, "What’s your reaction, Rob?")

I have met Doris Kearns Goodwin once, and it was a brief handshake at the candidates’ event last Wednesday at The Baseball Tavern, near Fenway Park. What she did at the debate was extraordinarily gracious. What a
remarkable person she is! Thank you, Doris! And of course if I am elected I will champion your wonderful idea of memorial bricks on Yawkey Way and Lansdowne Street. It’s such a good idea, I think the Sox would pursue it anyway.

Regardless of the outcome
of this election, Doris’s gesture to withdraw and subsequently endorse a "regular fan" whom she hardly knows makes her the biggest winner of us
all.

Click here to read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s endorsement of my candidacy at her Red Sox blog.

Click here to read the speech I gave at the Baseball Tavern last week that Doris refers to in her endorsement.

A funny debate postscript: When I came home and talked with my 8 year-old son about how it had gone, he asked me, "Daddy, what was the hardest question they asked you?" I told him that the hardest question was, "If you had the chance to bring Alex Rodriguez to the Red Sox, would you?"

Arod_and_masks
I told my son that my response was, "Well, my number-one priority is to win another World Series, and A-Rod would certainly help the Red Sox do that. But you know, my 8 year-old son is watching tonight, and he and I attended that game in 2004 when A-Rod and Varitek fought and Bill Mueller hit a walk-off homer to beat Mariano Rivera, and my son would kill me if I ever let A-Rod be a member of the Sox." You sound like a democratic presidential candidate, Rob," said Russert.  "Which is it, yes or no?" "I defer to my son," I replied. "No A-Rod."

When I told my son I had said this, he said,  "What?! Daddy, of course I would want A-Rod on the Red Sox! What are you, crazy?"

Regular Rob’s son for Red Sox assistant GM!

It was a pleasure getting to know the other five candidates who participated in the debate – Cindy Brown, Cheryl Boyd, Jared Carrabis, Jerry Remy, and Sam Horn. They’re all classy people who would be outstanding RSN presidents.

Thank you for your votes at http://www.redsoxnation.com/president from Friday night through Tuesday at 5pm.

YES! The Sox clinch the AL East thanks to a Mariano Rivera meltdown!

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To hear my song, I’m A Member of Red Sox Nation, on your computer right now, click on the box above. To read about the making of this song, click here. To see the YouTube video for this song, click here. To download a copy of this song for free, click here.

RSN: A Way of Life

Whrb_92207 This past Saturday, I was invited to appear on WHRB-FM’s famous country/folk music show, Hillbilly at Harvard, and to perform my song, I’m a Member of Red Sox Nation, live on the air. It’s always been a crazy dream of mine to have a song on the radio, so I didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation. And it was a great time. The show’s host, "Cousin Lynn" Joiner (second from left), made me feel right at home during our interview, and then we filled the studio with my song…. "we" being my co-writers, Michele and Dan Page (right), plus their 10 year-old granddaughter and my 8 year-old son, all of whom sang backup vocals. Who knows how it all sounded out in radio-land, but we had a blast. I want to thank Cousin Lynn for making it all possible. It was an honor to be on your legendary radio show.

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I was struck by one of Cousin Lynn’s questions. He said, smiling, "So, you’re running for the presidency of a concept?" He was pointing out the absurdity of electing a "president of Red Sox Nation." Today, I thought more about that. Red Sox Nation…. Is it a band of millions of loyal Red Sox fans? Or is it an emotion? A state of mind? A culture? Well yes, it’s all of these things. But most of all, it’s a way of life.  And as I and other members of RSN go through our daily lives, the Red Sox and baseball are literally everywhere we turn. I’m sure your house is a lot like mine….

Baseball gloves are all over the place. Baseball_gloves_everywhere2_2 Baseball_gloves_everywhere_2

Our love for the Red Sox is evident in our closets, where our many hats live, as well as in our laundry baskets and our children’s drawers. Baseball_hats_in_closet_1 Baseball_laundry_basket_3 Baseball_drawer_open_2

RSN calls to us from our children’s walls and game closets…. Baseball_posters_on_wall_1Baseball_game_closet_1

… and from our bookcases and the backs of our cars.Baseball_bookshelf_2Baseball_rsn_sticker_3   

Wiffle bats and balls reside in the yard ("Fenway West")…Baseball_bats_in_backyard2_2 Baseball_balls_next_to_tree_1

… along with the bases our kids have stepped on and dove into thousands of times, imitating Mueller or Crisp or Nomar or Roberts.Baseball_home_plate_in_backyard_3 Baseball_path_to_second_base_1

The kitchen isn’t just where we refuel, it’s where we pore over every word and statistic in the Globe sports section, and where our Kid Nation fridge magnet schedule is displayed proudly.Baseball_paper_and_magazines_5Baseball_side_of_fridge_6

And of course, every night between April and October, the game is on, and with every up and down inning, we relive the great highs and lows we’ve experienced as Red Sox fans over the years.


So yes, Cousin Lynn, Red Sox Nation is a concept. A concept whose essence has infiltrated everything about my life and the lives of many people I know, as well as the lives of millions of others worldwide. That’s one powerful "concept." It’s a kind of insanity. Hard to imagine any other "way of life"…

(Thanks to all of you for your comments on this and previous posts. I have been overwhelmed by your support in this campaign.)

Field of Dreams in My Backyard

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Below is another article in a series I’ve written as a candidate for president of Red Sox Nation. To hear my song, "I’m A Member of Red Sox Nation," click on the box above. To view the music video, click here. 

If there’s one regBackyard_robert_takes_a_leadular season game we’d all like to attend this year, it’s tonight’s game, Red Sox vs.Yankees, Schilling vs. Clemens. And I was offered a ticket, too. Turning it down was utterly painful, but with four small kids who need dinner, baths, and a bedtime story simultaneously, the teamwork of two parents is pretty important on a Sunday night. Don’t get me wrong, my wife can handle it all alone, but other married parents in Red Sox Nation will understand that, come September, it’s wise to save your chips for… the playoffs.

And anyway, no matter how great the game is tonight, it would be tough to match the fun I had today playing wiffle ball with my 8 year-old son (above, wearing a Laurence Maroney jersey) and my 9 year-old nephew… on the baseball field in my backyard. That’s right. A few years ago, at my son’s request, we transformed the sloped grassy space behind our house into a baseball field. Fenway West. 68 feet to the Fisk Pole in left field, 56 feet to the Pesky Pole in right, 96 feet to dead center (and laminated distance markers, made at Kinko’s, on the plastic fences, which are from the garden center at Home Depot). Bases exactly 45 feet apart, foul lines spray-painted white, and a pitcher’s mound 40 feet from home.

You like the idiosyncracies of Fenway? We’ve got those too. A sandbox full of toys in left, a swingset in right, and a gigantic oak tree next to the pitcher’s mound in the center of the field (ground rules: any ball that hits the tree in fair territory is fair and in play). There’s another big tree that looms in front of the left field fence (83 feet to straight-away left) that has the same effect on line drive blasts to left as the real Green Monster does… except sometimes the ball doesn’t come back down.

Backyard_left_field_and_center_2 The neighborhood kids who play ball in our backyard go to school every day and do their homework every night. But much of their most important education takes place right here after school and on the weekends. At Fenway West, they learn to organize themselves, to make compromises when disagreements arise, to play hard, and to never give up. They learn what it feels like to have a Sports Center Moment by hitting a clutch homer or pitching a third strike on a full count. They learn how to dream, they learn how to play.

Many of my neighbors have beautiful, green lawns. No one walks on them except when they’re being mowed. Our lawn can’t be called a lawn. It would be more accurate to call it a scraggly brownish earth surface. Grass doesn’t thrive when it’s trampled relentlessly by kids (and sometimes their dads) playing wiffle ball for hundreds of hours. The dirt patches at all the bases and the pitcher’s mound are now permanent, and the grass along the paths between the bases will probably never grow again. So be it.

Backyard_robert_and_william My wife worries that the barren baseball field in our backyard decreases the value of our house. I know better. If we ever decide to sell this place, the right buyer will see the house as a pleasant appendage to a field of dreams. Which is what our backyard has been for me, my kids, and their friends these last few years.

A week ago, my son had a homework assignment that asked him to describe his favorite thing about where he lives. His answer: "The baseball field." That’s my favorite thing about where we live, too. Fenway West.

Fenway Holiday

The risk of giving my son his first Fenway experience at the age ofthree was significant: what if he was too young to appreciate it and
remember it?

But I was so eager to introduce him to Fenway Park and the Red Sox,
I took the gamble on Father’s Day in 2002. And despite the cool, damp
weather, we had a fantastic time. He stood the whole game; Cracker
Jacks, cotton candy, and Fenway Franks sustained him; he was fascinated
by the wave; he loved the chants, the clapping, and singing Take Me Out To the Ballgame; and although he paid little attention to the action and didn’t understand a thing that was going on, he never got bored.

After the three-hour game, we had the option of heading home or
standing in an incredibly long line under the right field seats to go
onto the field for the first ever "Father’s Day catch." I gave him the
options and let him choose. "Let’s go on the field, Daddy!" (What a
kid!) We waited and waited, but he never complained. By the time we
made it onto the outfield grass, we had been at Fenway for about 4 1/2
hours (which is 9 hours in 3 year-old time).

I recall thinking, while rolling balls to him, chasing him, and
wrestling with him in the shadow of the Green Monster, that this was my
favorite day as a parent. It was surreal. I wished it could last
forever. And I hoped my son would remember it, too.

Fast-forward four months to the fall of 2002. I was sitting with my
son at our kitchen table, a wall calendar in front of us, filling in
the major holidays together. We noted Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s
Day, Valentine’s Day, July 4th, and a few others. When we were done, he
said with alarm, "Daddy, Daddy, we forgot the biggest holiday of all!"
We did? "Yeah Daddy, we forgot Father’s Day at Fenway!"

(No, I didn’t forget.)

Birth of a Believer

Below is another article in a series of blog entries I’ve written as a candidate for president of Red Sox Nation. This article originally appeared on my other blog at Crawdaddy Cove.

young Sox fan

My eight year-old son is a believer. In his short life, he has
attended some of the greatest regular season Red Sox games of them all.
He was at Fenway for the Varitek-ARod fight followed by the Mueller walk-off vs. Mariano Rivera in 2004; he was there for the Mark Loretta walk-off home run vs. Seattle on Patriots Day in 2006; and he was there for the incredible six-run, ninth inning rally vs. Baltimore on Mother’s Day earlier this spring (Sox won, 6-5).

He was also there for the 14-0 loss to the Braves in May. It was at this game that I realized he has become a FULLY EXPECTANT BELIEVER in the Red Sox.

The weather was horrible. By the end of the 7th inning, with the
Braves leading 11-0 and a steady downpour soaking Fenway, only a few
thousand fans remained in the stands. My son was shivering so I asked
him if he wanted to head home. "No way, Daddy!" he said, insulted.
"Daddy, we’re going to come back and win this game." Then he commanded,
"Put on your rally cap!" So I turned my cap inside out. And so did all
the people sitting near us.

In
the 8th inning, completely drenched, he turned to me again and said
with absolute seriousness, "Daddy, the Red Sox are winning this game."
I replied, "I know they are." In the top of the ninth, the Braves
scored three more runs, and before the Sox came up in the bottom of the
ninth, he said, "That’s actually good, Daddy, because now the comeback
will have three more runs and that will be more exciting." "You’re
right," I replied. "LET’S GO RED SOX!" he continued to yell through the
raindrops. The Sox went one-two-three in the ninth, and the worst Sox
game of the year (from a spectator’s perspective) was over. My son was
pensive as we walked out of Fenway.

On the drive home, he was quiet and I thought he was asleep until he
said, "Daddy, I know this sounds strange, but I’m going to say it
anyway. I really think it’s…. funny that the Red Sox didn’t
win. I mean, I really really thought they were going to come back. Even
with two outs in the ninth inning, I just knew they were going to win." Then, he fell asleep. His earnest faith gave me goosebumps.

How lucky am I to be this boy’s father, and to be raising him a few
miles from Fenway? How lucky is Red Sox Nation to have this kid as a
citizen?

No-hitter Nostalgia

Below is another article in a series I’m writing as a candidate for president of Red Sox Nation. This article originally appeared on my other blog at Crawdaddy Cove.

Clay BuchholzIt
was the 5th inning when my 8 year-old son’s bedtime rolled around, but
because Clay Buchholz had a no-hitter going, I told him he could stay
up until the O’s got their first hit. I knew he’d start to fall asleep
on the couch by the 7th inning anyway. And I was right. It was
hilarious watching him struggle to keep his eyes open. Then in the 8th,
realizing history could be made and wanting some company for a possible
celebration, I actually took measures to help my son stay awake. Turned
on all the lights, sat him up straight, got him some cold water. He
drifted off between the 8th and 9th, but when I yelped after young Clay
K’d Roberts to begin the 9th, he was up for good, eyes bloodshot but
adrenaline flowing, pacing in front of the TV.

We jumped up and down screaming after that nasty curveball froze
Markakis to end the game. It was as though we were there, at Fenway,
witnessing the historic moment in person from the blue seats in section
25. (We realized we were NOT at Fenway when my wife, who had rushed out
of bed, appeared on the stairs imploring, "What’s wrong!? What’s going
on!?") We watched Buchholz’s teammates mob him and we watched his
speechlessness during his interview with Tina Cervasio, then my son
said, "Daddy, I should probably go to bed now."

But the kid could not fall asleep. In the dark, as I sat beside his
bed, he kept commenting on the unlikely feat we had just seen. "Daddy,
it’s amazing, I mean, Roger Clemens has never thrown a no-hitter, and
Buchholz did it in his SECOND START OF HIS CAREER!" Then he put down
his head, and three minutes later: "I mean, it’s not just luck when you
throw a no-hitter, you actually have to be GOOD to do that, Daddy."
Then he lay there, eyes closed, not moving for another four minutes,
and jumped up: "And he struck out nine guys, Daddy, nine guys. I mean,
when you throw a no-hitter at age 23, it means you’re definitely GOING
TO BE to be a great pitcher. In fact, it means you’re going to be great
AND YOU ALREADY ARE GREAT." Finally, with visions of #61 (a mere 15
years old than my boy) achieving the seemingly impossible dancing in
his head, my son fell asleep.

Perhaps my son’s enthrallment with Buchholz’s no-hitter is genetic,
for I have always been fascinated by no-hitters and perfect games.
Obsessed might be a better word for it. Before I had kids (and so was
free every summer night), I had a rule that I would never turn down an
offer of tickets to a Red Sox game, because what if I were to miss a
no-hitter? And ever since I was a little boy, a dream has been to throw
a no-hitter. I did come close…twice.

In fifth grade, I threw a one-hitter at Soule Playground in
Brookline (6 innings). I remember the one hit was a hard ground ball
into right field off the bat of my best friend, John Sax, who legged
out a double. (Why do I still remember this? Because it’s the closest I
ever came.) I pitched another one-hitter on July 22, 1994, a few weeks
shy of my 26th birthday, at Jefferson Park in Jamaica Plain vs. McKay
Club (7 innings). The one hit (with two outs in the 5th inning) remains
a painfully vivid memory. I had been successful all night with just my
fastball and curveball, but I decided to try to surprise the
right-handed batter with a slow sidearm slurve. He was fooled by the
speed, but slowed down his swing just enough to hit a soft liner about
a foot over George Leung’s leaping attempt at shortstop. Base hit.
Dream deferred.

Watching Buchholz in his interview with Tina Cervasio, I Lights at Fenwaywas
struck by the notion that this kid had achieved his (and my) dream, yet
a part of him wasn’t really ready to achieve it yet — his self-image
hadn’t yet caught up with his incredible talent and the reality of his
accomplishment. Heck, just being in the Majors hadn’t sunk in
yet, and he went out and did something many Hall of Famers have never
done. His performance was years ahead of his own (and perhaps everyone
else’s) timetable for his success. No wonder, then, that when Cervasio
asked him how he felt, he said, "It’s all a blur right now," and when
she asked him how he had stayed within himself, he said, "I don’t
really have an answer for that one either." Good answers. What else
could he say? He was more stunned than any of us were.

I really wish I’d been at Fenway to see Buchholz’s no-hitter. I’ve
never seen a no-hitter or perfect game in person. (Saw Wake come close
once, though.) But seeing it on TV with my fanatical son was a
wonderful thing. And you know, most of our most priceless Fenway
moments take place right in our own living rooms. Even though we’re not
AT Fenway, Fenway possesses us through the beams of our TVs and we’re
suddenly there, side by side with 35,651 screaming fans, one gigantic
Nation united in elation, inspiration, and wonder.