October 2008

Letters To The 2008 Red Sox

One week ago, I wrote to the 51 Red Sox Nation governors and asked them, “If you could write a 100-word letter to any Red Sox player, coach, or front office person (or the whole team) about the 2008 season, and you knew that that person would read your letter, to whom would you write and what would you say?” Below are the letters I have received so far. Please contribute your own brief letters in the comments section.

Dear Jon Lester,
Thank you for being the most inspirational story in all of baseball. 27-8 to start your career with two postseason wins, a World Series ring and a no-hitter under your belt already. You are quickly becoming one of the most elite pitchers in the game before our very eyes and it is players like you that make me proud to call myself a Red Sox fan. So to you Mr. Lester, I sincerely thank you for being such an inspiration to me as well as the rest of Red Sox Nation. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you.
Jared Carrabis, Red Sox Nation Governor of Massachusetts (http://soxspacenews.com)

Dear Justin Masterson,
Congratulations to the Red Sox for a successful season and to you, Justin, for a totally outstanding rookie year. When you came up to the show last April it appeared that the Red Sox had another ace.  Winning your first four starts at Fenway Park was incredible.  So, it was difficult to understand why you were sent down to become a relief pitcher.  Does Terry know baseball or what? Your return to the Red Sox as a stopper was truly sensational.  The poise and confidence you exude spreads throughout the team. Special congratulations for topping off the season by winning one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history.
Hank Larsen, Red Sox Nation Governor of Oklahoma

Dear 2008 Red Sox,
Thank you for making my days rock! Your hard work and dedication didn’t go unnoticed and your determination inspires me to do my best at my job every day. You fill a void that nothing else can.  You don’t realize it fully, but you unite a whole lot of people that would otherwise have nothing in common. You DO create a NATION of sorts and for that reason, you are AMBASSADORS of goodwill!  Since I cannot write each player individually, I will ask the skipper, Terry Francona, to deliver that message for me.  And while he’s at it, he should give himself a pat on the back, too!
Lety Haynes, Red Sox Nation Governor of Arizona
 
Dear Theo Epstein,
Thank you for working to bring a winner to Boston every year. The list of aggressive moves is long: claiming Millar off waivers before the 2003 season which kept him from Japan; putting Manny on irrevocable waivers; spending Thanksgiving with the Schillings; dealing Nomar; admitting mistakes like the Renteria signing; letting the 2006 team struggle because there was no quick fix; bidding on Matsuzaka; drafting good but expensive young players; and trading Manny. So, now the offseason is upon us and we get to watch you play. That you take calculated risks makes rooting for the Red Sox a year-round joy.
Ben Crawford, Red Sox Nation Governor of Virginia
 
Dear Kevin Youkilis,
Thank you for giving us such a tremendous season of baseball. I really appreciate the way you play the game. I love baseball. It’s fun. And we can learn so much from baseball about life. You demonstrate those lessons every day. You play with your whole heart. You are engaged with every pitch. You run out every hit ball, often turning outs to hits. You chase any ball that comes near you. You’re a good team player. Even when the team is down 7-0, you never give up. You are an inspiration to all of us, to live each moment to the fullest, to do our best, and to never, never give up. With deep appreciation,
— Eleanor LeCain, Red Sox Nation Governor of Washington, D.C.
 
Dear Mike Lowell,
I just wanted to thank you for playing the game the right way. It was clear to the most casual observer that you were far from 100% for most of the season, but you still gutted it out to the best of your ability.  It was actually painful for me to watch you during September and October but I never heard you complain. I look forward to a healthy Mike Lowell and another World Series title in 2009. Have a restful and rejuvenating winter. Sincerely,
— Jud Barber, Red Sox Nation Governor of Alabama
 
Dear Dustin Pedroia,
Nice job this year.  You showed all of the characteristics that make me proud to be a Red Sox fan. Take care of your fingers; you will need them to be in good shape for all those rings you will be winning in the next few years. GO SOX!
— Drew Jackman, Red Sox Nation Governor of Tennessee
 
Dear Jason Varitek,
You’ve been an integral part of this team and the city of Boston for a long time, and I want you to know that I appreciate your efforts over these years.  I am sure that no one is more disappointed than you to be watching the Series rather than playing in it.  While it’s true I cursed your struggles in the post season, I respect how you wore your C with pride and gave all you had for your teammates and your team.  I hope that you and the Red Sox come to an agreement that keeps you in Boston; but should you decide to part ways, please do so with positive memories and the knowledge that the fans of Boston appreciate your sacrifices and constant professionalism. Go Sox!
— Nathan Emerson, Red Sox Nation Governor of Wyoming
 
Dear Red Sox,
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for such an exciting season! The crazy, impossible catches from Youk, the exhilarating hits from Pedroia, Drew, and Bay, Tito’s great love of Double Bubble (also my fav!), I could go on and on. It was a truly stand-up performance this season by everyone. The way you pull together in the worst of times and the precision with which you all play is the best. You show us by your example what a “team” really is. That is why we love you so much. 2009 here we come!
— Niki Gallagher, Red Sox Nation Governor of Nebraska
 
Dear 2008 Red Sox,
Thank you for what you gave and taught my family this season. For teaching my sons they are as important to you as grownups are through Kids Nation. For tickets in Conigliaro’s Corner around which we planned a vacation that will be remembered forever! For playing in Minnesota, which gives us our only chance to enjoy a game in the Metrodome. For putting team ahead of player and trading Manny and reminding us that hustle matters! For teaching us you go to work even when you need surgery. Lastly, for Game 5, which taught us to never, ever give up! Thank you,
Bob Boucher, Red Sox Nation Governor of Minnesota
 
Dear Mr. David Ortiz,
I know it was a difficult postseason for you, but I have faith that you will be able to get back to the high caliber player you were in 2004 and 2007. You showed us a glimpse of that Big Papi with the 3-run HR in Game 5. However, maybe during the off-season you can work on hitting or bunting the ball towards 3rd base/left field to beat the shift. That way, next time there is a hit and run and Pedroia is trying to steal 2nd, you can prevent the strike out/throw out double play. A “little” hit in that situation could have made the difference in getting those pesky 2 runs we desperately needed in game 7. Sincerely,
— Heather Mascuch, Red Sox Nation Governor of New Jersey (http://redsoxnationgovnj.mlblogs.com/)

Dear Jason Varitek,
I realize that you’re probably still dealing emotionally with the Red Sox’s recent Series loss in Tampa Bay.  I hope in a short time (if not already) you will feel very proud about the great 2008 Boston Red Sox team and al
l that was accomplished. There were of course many obstacles put in the team’s path for another championship and I for one feel that the team overcame adversity admirably well, particularly under your leadership as Captain. Considering there is mounting talk about your future with the team (something thats certainly out of the fans’ control), I felt that this was a good time for a huge fan such as myself to let you know what your inspiring performance and leadership has meant to me over the years. Jason, you have truly been the heart and soul of this team and worn the “C” on your uniform with style and class.  To me you are the type of player that all athletes should strive to be: honest, very hard working, focused, and a true team player. No matter what happens in the future, I and most Red Sox fans will always wish you well and remember what a true member of the Red Sox you have been and will forever be. Best wishes always,
— Chris Porter, Red Sox Nation Governor of Washington
 
Dear Red Sox Organization,
On the field, the players and coaches were amazing and so professional. Off the field, you were even more inspiring. The amount of time that everyone spends with their different charities is unbelievable. So many times you see pro athletes that only care about how much they get paid and then do not give back to their local communities or their fans in general.  Being out in South Dakota, it is fun and interesting to hear players on radio streams, such as Kevin Youkilis on WAAF. Whether you win or lose, I am proud to be a Red Sox fan and to be a part of all the great things you are accomplishing and all the lives you change off the field.  Thanks for being such an inspiration and not being like every other typical athlete.
— Sara Brusseau, Red Sox Nation Governor of South Dakota
 
Rob, since I represent the members of the Nation from here in North Carolina, I put the word out that there might be an opportunity to submit a 100-word message to the Sox. Our members came up with some nice work. The best are below; I’ll let you choose.

Dear Dustin Pedroia,
There is something magic in every game you play. I really admire your determination, guts, and spirit, which all shine through. I enjoy watching the team play, but to me you are the shining star. I always say that I wish they would pay you what you are worth. I also loved your “dancing” video. I have to assume the guys gave you a hard time because you are a fun person at heart. It just made me admire you even more. You will always be the MVP in my book. Thanks for making watching baseball so great for me!
— Kim R., North Carolina

Dear Terry Francona,
You did an amazing job this season, given all that went on. We had a superstar who quit, injuries to major players, rookies in important positions, and YOU need back surgery! This is a lot for one man to put up with, but you did a great job keeping us in the race and leading the Sox to yet another playoff berth. Here’s to the best manager in MLB! Get well soon!
— Mike D, North Carolina

From me, a simple thanks to all the fellas for that incredible Game 5 comeback – it will live with me forever. Thanks for reminding me to never give up, and for making me so proud to be a Sox fan.
— Sean Bunn, Red Sox Nation Governor of North Carolina

Dear J.D. Drew,
I would like to thank you for coming through so strong so many times this year.  I was proud to see that you were recognized for your toughness and professionalism, because I think in the past (with the Cards) you were given a bad rap and inappropriately accused of not caring or not being tough.  I would also like to point out a great moment, one that not many people may have noticed. In the ninth inning of game 2 against the Angels, you hit your two run homer (which everyone noticed) but I saw something that actually made me happier and pointed out to my son who so looks up to the players.  When you sat down in the dugout, the camera caught you with the biggest smile cracking your usual calm exterior, and you looked like a kid having the best time of your life. I thought that was truly special – it’s what the game is all about. Thanks,
— James Fletcher, Red Sox Nation Governor of Arkansas

Dear Red Sox team, coaching staff, and front office personnel:
I would like to congratulate every one of you for the tremendous effort this season. With many adversities this year, ranging from the exhausting travel schedule beginning this season, injuries to key players, and personal changes in the middle of the year, this season was nothing less than a miracle. To make it into the playoffs and get to Game 7 of the ALCS is incredible. If you had told me in spring training everything that would happen to this team, I would have told you there was no way we would be in the playoffs. I’m holding my head up high, proud to be part of Red Sox Nation.
— Jim Silva, Red Sox Nation Governor of Hawaii

Dear Kevin Youkilis,
Thank you for a fantastic season. I want to tell you how much I appreciated your talent and athleticism. Your ability to take over 3rd base (and do it well) was so important to the team’s success this year. The Red Sox organization is always touting its philosophy that it’s a team of guys and not a bunch of individuals on ego trips, and your flexibility exemplifies this attitude. Enjoy the winter break and see you in Fort Myers in the spring.
— Kelly Thompson, Red Sox Nation Governor of Idaho
p.s. Loved the shout out to your “fiance and the little one” – as a female fan I like to see a glimpse of the personal side of the players.

Dear 2008 Red Sox,
As the Governor of Red Sox Nation for the state of New Hampshire I would like to not only thank the entire Red Sox Team, Terry, and the coaching staff for a phenomenal season but also to acknowledge my appreciation for the hard work you all put into playing each and every time you take the field. I have been a Red Sox Fan my entire life and I think I can speak for the members of Red Sox Nation in NH in saying we will keep believing in you and look forward to the 2009 seaon. Thanks again for a GREAT YEAR!!! GO SOX!!!
— Janice Page, Red Sox Nation Governor of New Hampshire
 
To the Red Sox:
It was great season and a great game 5 comeback. We’re looking forward to the 2009 campaign.

To Terry Francona:
I want to thank you, Tito, for being who you are….the best Red Sox manager in my lifetime and probably in the history of the club. You are a remarkably strong, thoughtful and caring man. I cannot say how much you are admired here in Red Sox Nation.
 — Eric Weisman, Red Sox Nation Governor of Kentucky
 
Dear Coco Crisp,
Congratulations on a wonderful season! You not only proved to be the best center fielder on the Red Sox roster and one of the best in the league, you also asserted your rightful to claim to being one of the five best centerfielders in Red Sox history. And you did this while fighting for the “job” and against the wishes of a substantial portion of the fan base. But you hung in with maturity and poise and proved them all wrong. Have a great off-season, and I look forward to seeing you in centerfield for the Sox in the spring of 2009. My wife Phyllis and I sat close by to your wife and daughter at spring training. You are a lucky guy to have such a beautiful family rooting for you.
— C. Ted Schmidt, Jr., Red Sox Nation Governor of Rhode Island
 
This is for Mr.Epstein:
You have done a super job over the years. Now we need a BIG BAT and a pitcher of Beckett and DiceK quality, but my main question is, are you looking for a catcher that can throw out runners out and hit more then .220 and run well? Maybe it is time to let one of our young catchers step up. Do you agree these are the three concerns? Maybe Lowrie as utility man and get a shortstop somewhere. Th
anks. 
— Phil Price, Red Sox Nation Governor of Delaware

Dear Red Sox Players, Coaches, and Front Office,
Being a loyal fan of the Boston Red Sox has been an exciting and rewarding journey, and 2008 was yet another example. Since 2000, we have not had a repeat World Series Champ, but this year we were so close to achieving that. Through many injuries, this team battled to make the playoffs, and that says a lot about their dedication. I can speak for all of the members of Red Sox Nation in Illinois when I say, thanks for another great season, and enjoy your off-season. See you in the spring. Sincerely,
— Brendan Mulcahy, Red Sox Nation Governor of Illinois

Dear Manny Ramirez,
I want to thank you for your time and service in
Boston. Your bat can never truly be replaced, and even your antics
(some) will be missed. There is no doubt that you were an integral part
of our first two world championships in 86 years. Nothing will take
that away. You earned $160 million while here, plus several
playoff/world series shares. Your award bonuses alone would be enough
for most Americans to retire on. I’d like to think that the
satisfaction of your team’s accomplishments, and the knowledge of what
these titles meant to the fans of Red Sox Nation, are equally
valuable… but that’s probably a stretch. Having said all that, given
all that you’ve done, please don’t think for a minute that what you did
to us in the end will be forgotten.
I can understand in part why
you blame the media, but the fact is that you quit on your fans and
your team. The very people who’s small but hard-earned paychecks gave
you your large ones. Your sudden NL production was no fluke and we all
know it. It’s a terrible thing you did to us. I can’t even bring myself
to think of the “what ifs” had you decided to play your heart out for
us as you did for them. I’ll never boo you Manny. (Excluding a
pinstripe appearance.) I will rise in a standing ovation upon your
return, but alongside goofy, you will now always be remembered as
selfish, greedy, shallow, unfaithful and untrustworthy. Thanks for
something and nothing,
Glen Jardine, Red Sox Nation Governor of Vermont
P.S. How dare you make me agree with Tim McCarver on something. Not cool man.

Dear Theo Epstein,
The 2008 season was dramatic, exciting, and fulfilling for Red Sox fans – even without a World Series appearance. At the same time, it begs the question: what has to change in order for the Sox to repeat as world champs in 2009? Good luck in your quest to determine the answer to that most difficult question.
— Karen Kupiec, Red Sox Nation Governor of Connecticut
 
Dear Jason Bay,
I appreciate how you filled some shoes that were not easy to fill. Manny was a big part of the Red Sox team, but you gladly filled that spot, overlooking the pressure that you might have felt.  I am so grateful that you quickly adjusted and helped us reach the postseason. Your presence on the team made a big impact on team dynamics; I could tell that other players enjoyed playing with you, and that you enjoyed being in Boston. Thank you, Mr. Bay, for a great first season with the Red Sox!
— Melissa Rehon, Red Sox Nation Governor of Utah
 
Dear Jason Varitek,
Thank you, the team and the entire organization for one of the most incredible Red Sox baseball seasons ever!  Starting with early morning games from Japan, through watching some team players achieve record milestones, stealing first place form the Rays prior to the All Star Break, making the playoffs, and playing some of the most inspiring and captivating baseball ever even with injuries and adversity. I also want to personally thank you for your perseverance and always performing as the ultimate professional and Team Captain.  It is this type of example, which helps us all get through these tough times and believe as long as we have a chance and perform as hard as we can we can win at anything! For the Glory!
Bill Moore, Red Sox Nation Governor of Pennsylvania
 
To the Boston Red Sox,
Thank you for the excitement you bring to our household. We thoroughly enjoy every minute of your 162 game schedule, the post season, and even action that takes place in the off season. Watching the Red Sox brings our family together in the evenings and gives us conversation fodder at the dinner table. You have provided us with so many lasting memories over the years. Thanks again for the great jobs everyone does throughout the year, we appreciate it.
— Bob Lever, Red Sox Nation Governor of North Dakota

Dear Red Sox Players and Coaches,
We would like to thank each and
everyone of you guys in the dugout this year. There were so many
reasons to make excuses. From flying halfway around the world for
Opening Day, all the injuries to deal with and personal discord (just
to name a few). But you fought through all of it and you were still
only one game away from the series. You never gave up, YOU NEVER MADE
EXCUSES and you should all be proud of that. I know we are. So go back
home and enjoy some well deserved personal time off. For Mikey, Papi,
Josh and of course Tito … Get well soon. And if you make it to Texas
this off-season, let us know .. we would like to shake your hands and
say THANKS!!
John Mathews, Red Sox Nation Governor of Texas

Dear Theo Epstein,
Thanks for keeping such a great team together who are so dedicated to the Red Sox and the members of Red Sox Nation. The signing of Jason Bay
was a great addition to the team and he quickly won the hearts of the
Fenway Faithful and RSN. Your continued dedication has helped the Red
Sox put together the best run of seasons in nearly a century. Red Sox Nation thanks you for your continued hard work and dedication to the Red Sox! Best,
— Megan Berlo, Red Sox Nation Governor of Indiana

Dear Terry Francona,
First of all, thanks for a great season in 2008. The team played
great right to the end and we are very proud of what they accomplished
this year, especially with all the adversity and injuries we had to play
through. How do you keep the team focused during the off-season and build on this momentum heading into the 2009 campaign?
Thanks again. West Virginia loves the Sox!
Todd Barrett, Red Sox Nation Governor of West Virginia

To the team:
Thank you for the effort, heart, strength and dedication you all showed throughout the season. You make us so proud to be Boston Red Sox Fans. We’ll forever remember game 5 in the ALCS and the incredible feeling we had witnessing a historic comeback that will never be duplicated or taken away from us. What a magnificent battle! Francona giggling after the win was sweetness defined. (Unless you were an owner of the Dubble Bubble Company.) Truly, a great season. Cannot wait for ’09. Thank you again. Sincerely,
— Karen Doherty, Red Sox Nation Governor of California

Dear Red Sox Players, Coaches, and Staff,
Even though as fans we always
want our team to go all the way, we know it is not always easy. Making it to the postseason and being on top as one of the two best teams in the American League while other teams were playing golf is more than enough to make us proud. There
are days when you get up in the morning and things aren’t the way you
had hoped they would be. Sometimes winning is not all that matters, it’s
the footprints you leave while playing the game, and you guys did that in game 5. History and being part of that history sometimes is worth more than a win.
Thank you for a great year and I hope to see all of you back as part of the Red Sox in 2009. WE ARE VERY PROUD TO BE RED SOX FANS.

 Alexa Jimenez, Red Sox Nation Governor of Florida

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A Day In The Life of a Believer

I have two minutes to write before getting my kids ready for school, and myself ready for work. Here’s what I have to say today:

I will run into and hear from scores of people who will either say out loud, or with their eyes and body language, “I was right to doubt the Red Sox — they couldn’t pull it off after all,” or, “Turns out you were wrong to believe the Sox would come all the way back, eh? ” My response to them is the same today as it would have been if the Sox had won game 7:

“Believing isn’t about being right or wrong, it’s a way of life. And life’s a heck of a lot more fun when you expect the unreal.”

How Red Sox Nation Is Watching, Far From Fenway

Prior to the ALCS, I polled the 50 governors of Red Sox Nation, plus
our one mayor of D.C., asking them how many games they expected the
ALCS to go, and how they prefer to watch Red Sox playoff games if they
can’t be at Fenway. Now, as we head into GAME SEVEN versus the Rays, it seems fitting to highlight a few of those governors who predicted a 7-game series, and to visualize how fans across the country will be watching the game on Sunday night:

1. How many games do you expect the Red Sox will need to win the series with the Rays?

4 games – 2 votes (5%)

5 games – 10 votes (25%)

6 games – 18 votes (45%)

7 games – 10 votes (25%)

"The Sox will win in 7. We like the dramatic wins. The
downside is we'll wear out our fingernails. The upside is we get to
watch more baseball before the snow falls!" -- Eleanor LeCain, Washington, D.C.

“I’m thinking it’s gonna take 7, and the full 7 at that.  Seems like
no game is over against these Rays until the last out is recorded. 
Great team, fun to watch but we’ll take ’em!” — Nathan Emerson, Wyoming

“This will take 7.  I am really hoping we don’t face 3 or 4 elimination games again.” — Ben Crawford, Virginia

“It’s going to go all 7 and its going to be THE most dramatic, emotional rollercoaster ALCS in a long time.” — Niki Gallagher, Nebraska

“This one’s going to take 7.  Gonna be a dogfight.” Lynn Kimball, Louisiana

“A gut-wrenching seven.” — Evan Welch, Colorado

“This series will go 7…This is turning into a great rivalry. The
Rays are the real deal and have proven that they are not intimidated.”
Ben Maciariello, Oregon

2. If you can’t be AT the game, how do you prefer to watch Red Sox playoff games?

“Watching at home on my big screen TV, drinking root beer and praying!” — Eleanor LeCain, Washington, D.C.

“Since many of the games are on very late during the work week, I
end up watching most of them in my bed in a Red Sox shirt and shorts.
However, on the weekends, I prefer to watch the Red Sox games at a local bar with my family and boyfriend. I usually wear my “The Best Girls Root For Boston” shirt or one of my many other Red Sox shirts while drinking a Sam Adams Octoberfest. — Heather Mascuch, New Jersey

“If I’m not AT the game, I have the same seat at my house that I’ve
sat in for postseason games since ’99. It’s superstition that my mom
stays upstairs for the ALCS and can only come downstairs to watch the
World Series with my dad and me. Call us cruel but hey, if it works, it
works.” — Jared Carrabis, Massachusetts

“I prefer to be at home wearing my Yaz t-shirt underneath my Papi
jersey with the hat I bought just before the all-star break in ’04. I
have a 12 pk of Dr. Pepper and a couple of New Castles handy with salt
and vinegar chips and hot dogs. I normally don’t sit because I am
constantly pacing the floor with my hands on my head. And I carry
around something I like to call the “Mojo Stick” (read about it on my Sawxheads under blogs or rsnksgov.mlblogs.com) — Jonathan Sherman, Kansas

“Either in my living room on the edge of my sofa, with my good luck charm Masha my wonder dog close by, wearing my lucky Boston Red Sox apparel, drinking various Octoborfest beers, and eating a loaded sausage sandwich OR hosting a Boston Red Sox Party
at either of two incredible Bosox Friendly Establishments: Bridge
Street Cafe (soon to be Zack’s & Rocco’s) or at Revello’s Cafe,
both located in Old Forge.” — Bill Moore, Pennsylvania

“I
have an awesome 92″ screen at home, complete with comfy recliners, a
cooler full of chilled adult beverages, and a souped up remote. I
worked hard for this perk and I enjoy it to the max with friends and
family!! HD makes you almost feel like you are there.” —
Lety Haynes, Arizona

“Here in Texas, it’ll be walking into the Fox and Hound here in Houston (Westheimer) with “The First Lady” of RSN, TX by my side. I wear number 9 and the First Lady
wears 33. Shaking hands with the manager on duty on the way to our
section. Making sure the sound is throughout the place and all the TV’s
are set to the Sox game. We make sure everyone has chips and salsa,
spend time meeting all the old and new Sox fans that have come out to
join us from all over the U.S., and make sure everybody is well taken
care of, AND THEN LEAD BY EXAMPLE !!! And don’t forget to take care of
your servers …. that goes a long way…” — John Matthews, Texas
“I prefer watching the game with a
few close friends (people that can handle me yelling at the TV).  I
like to turn up the volume VERY loud, and sit about 6 inches from the
screen – that way there is absolutely NO chance I’ll miss something. I
also need to be holding onto something (especially if the game is
close) like a pillow – and of COURSE I have to be wearing my Red Sox
hat.” — Melissa Rehon, Utah
“Since I live in Honolulu and can’t ever make it to the game, I LOVE to sit on my couch in the living room, get one of my many Red Sox t-shirts on, get my orignal Wally Beanie doll (the first one they gave away at Fenway) down off the shelf in his adirondack chair (same one that Jerry Remy has), put Wally on the coffee table, turn on the surround sound, pour myself a Coke classic, watch NESN pregame, get pumped up, and then it’s game on!” — Jim Silva, Hawaii
“Because I live in Tampa, I have the luck, honor and opportunity to attend the game live, so I will be at Tropicana Field watching games 1 & 2. I will watch game 3 & 4 at a local bar name KD’s Bar & Grill, with my Red Sox gear on baby!!!” — Alexa Jiminez, Florida
“On the couch with my husband and also all three dogs on the couch
– it brings the Sox luck to have all three dogs on the couch –
unfortunately they don’t always know that! Go Sox!” — Karen Kupiec, Connecticut
“Since 2004, my outside layer is always a red t-shirt that says “Fenway Park“. I wore it to Yankee Stadium for Game 7 of the ALCS
and for every postseason game since then. I usually find myself
watching these games alone with a glass of water and a phone nearby for
brief conversations between innings. Honestly, I don’t have a
preference as to where I am, as long as I can watch EVERY PITCH. I
pretty much block out everything/everyone else while the game is on,
taking time between innings for brief conversations with others who
are also watching.” — Benjamin Crawford, Virginia
“I will have to make runs back and forth between my two favorite sports bars, Mulligans and Home Team Sports. I’ll be wearing my favorite Red Sox hat, my 1986 Red Sox WS Pin, and holding my Ted Williams bat.” — Bill Grogan, Lt. Gov of Virginia
“Lying on my couch while my gorgeous wife Alice massages my back, refills my beers, does Red Sox cheers between innings, and the only thing she says is Yes my Governor.…” Marty McLoughlin, Michigan
“Any great Vermont pub will do as long as I’m with friends, but if it’s a high pressure
game where the Sox possibly face elimination, I tend to hide out at
home where I don’t necessarily have to pay for anything I might
‘accidently’ break.”Glen Jardine, Vermont
“In my family room, with my wife Kelly and our two members of Kid’s Nation, Marin and Reed, eating popcorn and drinking Dr. Pepper.”Bob Boucher, Minnesota
“It would depend on the situation. The more stressful/meaningful
the game, the more I prefer to watch at home, alone on my couch so if
something happens and I start to get nervous, I can flip away for a few
moments before tuning back in. If it’s early in the series, I would
prefer to go to a friend’s house or out to a local restaurant/bar and
watch the game with a small group of people.”Rachel Yacouby, Maine
“On my couch. I don’t have lucky slippers but I do have boxer shorts that are starting pitcher specific. For Dice-K I have a pair with sumo wrestlers on them.” Judson Barber, Alabama
“At Nic n Dinos Tripoli Tavern surrounded by 100 screaming Red Sox fans with a line of Jameson as far as the eye can see after each win.” — Brendan Mulcahy, Illinois
“My living room is set up as a great place to watch a game with a
good group of friends and other fans. I like to pack my three couches
with people, grill some burgers, and make some chili dogs. Throw in a
few plates of BBQ nachos and you can’t find a better place (away from Fenway) to watch the Red Sox.” — Garreth Blackwell, Mississippi
“I like being in my recliner with my PJ’s on and my lucky charm (my wife) a cold one (Bud) with a bag of pretzels. GIT-R-DONE SOX.” —  Phil Price, Delaware
“I prefer to watch at home alone on the big screen in HD wrapped
up in my Red Sox rally blanket, decked out in Red Sox gear, drinking
mojitos. That way I can throw my temper tantrums and shed my tears in private when things don’t go our way.” — Niki Gallagher, Nebraska
“I prefer to watch the games in my “man cave” surrounded by Red Sox paraphenalia with my girl friend and my dog and my curious good luck rituals.” — Nathan Emerson, Wyoming
“In any series I watch half the
games at home and half out at a bar so when at home I really like to be
left alone and not talked to, sitting on the floor, drinking a Michelob Ultra Amber or Bud Light, wearing Red Sox gear and yelling and cheering at the TV.  When at a bar I usually go to Middleton Sport Bowl and drink taps of local Capital Brewery or Bud or Coors Light.  When I am out I like to talk and hang out with whoever might be joining me.” — Kellie Hernandez, Wisconsin
“Whether it’s at home or at the bar, I gotta have some buffalo wings!” — Bob Lever, North Dakota
“Home alone (with a couple beers to
take the edge off the nervousness) so I can be really fidgety and yell
at the TV (or the FOX broadcasters, but that never happens….)”Lynn Kimball, Louisiana
“At home, with my 3 sisters and my nephew Jacoby – the newest member of Red Sox Nation – and celebrating a win by cranking the Dropkick Murphy’s on the iPod!” — Misty Haungs, Missouri
“I’m
usually too nervous to sit so I meander back-and-forth from the kitchen
to the living room, peeking out from around the kitchen cabinets so my
wife and friends can’t see how anxious I am. “Jonny Bravo”
usually comes over wearing his winter Patriots hat (regardless of the
temperature inside or out), we make some wings, salsa con queso, or
other homemade bar food. This year, the beverage of choice will be Sam Adams Boston Lager as it was my good luck charm against, and source of constant harassment from, Rockies Fans last year.” — Evan Welch, Colorado
“I prefer to watch the games in the throng of Sox fans in New York
City whooping it up and celebrating like only an expat community can.
The scope of knowledge and passion among the fans of New York
that seek out the best place to watch games behind enemy lines is
astounding.  I’m constantly amazed at all of the experts, celebrities,
and everymen (and everywomen) here that share the Red Sox as their
common bond.” — Chris Wertz, New York
“I like to watch the playoff games with my son and a couple of
friends.  Everyone comes over and we have a great party with drinks and
food that my wife makes.  Might not get the thrill of being there, but
we cheer like we are.” — Justin Robertson, Montana
“In my media room … recliner/HD satellite….Hey, Brenda …. grab me a beer.” — Hank Larsen, Oklahoma
“Alone in my basement recliner in front of my 65” HDTV,
clutching and swinging my black Commemorative “Crowing of a Champion”
Sox bat from ’05, wearing my authentic home #24 jersey (Dewey and
Manny!) and fitted blue Sox cap purchased from Twins, and sipping Coors Light from a bottle, frequently.” — Jason Downie, Maryland
“At a place that feels like home at this point, Raleigh’s “Fenway South,” aka Fox & Hound in Raleigh’s North Hills, drinking Octoberfest with my buddies from the Triangle Red Sox Nation. Wait, didn’t we all just do that last weekend? Well, why mess with a good thing?” — Sean Bunn, North Carolina
“On the weekends, I like to watch the game at the Charleston Beer
Works on King Street in Charleston. I feel like I’m back in Boston when
we watch there. (A HUGE thank you to Tim, the owner, for getting in Fenway
Franks last week. I never thought I would see a top split roll in the
South!) If there is a game during the week, I am parked on the
couch trying to take minimal bathroom breaks. I am 6 months pregnant.
If I have to be out of the house or away from the Beerworks, I am tuned
into my XM Radio. No matter where I am, I have my Sox gear on.”Traci O’Rourke, South Carolina
“My favorite place to watch the game: with my dad at the ranch
after a day of wiffle ball at Fenway West. Gotta be wearing my Sox hat
and standing behind the couch pacing and powerstancing. I would also
say the one advantage of being a West Coast Sox fan is that the games start at 5:30pm and even if they go extras I can watch NESN post game and still be in bed by 11 o’clock.” — Ben Maciariello, Oregon

Expect The Unreal

This morning, while walking my children into their school, a friend of my 6 year-old’s told me, “My dad was at the Red Sox game last night, but he left after the top of the seventh inning.”

Then, at the coffee shop, the guy at the cash register (observing the B on my sweatshirt) said to me, “I assume you stayed up to watch that game. I turned it off after they went down, 5 to nothing. But what a comeback. That was unreal.” Then another woman in line said, “What, they WON? I was there but I left after the fifth inning. They WON?”

Yes, I was at the game last night, and I could write pages and pages about what I saw and what I felt. But the morning after the greatest comeback in League Championship Series history, I’ve gotta write about Yogi’s profound quotation, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

The whole reason to attend a baseball game is to see the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. If you are leaving a game before it’s over, or turning off your TV before the game ends, you haven’t yet evolved to the point of understanding what baseball IS ALL ABOUT. (Or, you fell asleep on your couch after a long day at work…. regrettable, but understandable.)

I know that there are many reasons to attend a baseball game besides seeing great comebacks. The festive atmosphere, majestic home runs, phenomenal defensive plays, spending quality time with a child or sibling… but the core point of baseball is to remind us all that, in life, anything CAN happen, and anything WILL happen. And the decision to stop watching a game before it’s completely over nullifies a fan’s potential to personally experience this amazing truth in all its glory.

Now, I must say that only about 10% of Fenway’s seats were empty when J.D. Drew smoked that game-winning line drive over Gabe Gross’s head in the wee hours of the morning. It turns out that most of the fans who ventured out to the game last night were the kind who always stay ’til the end, and based on the LOUD noise they made when Pedroia drove in the first run of the comeback (to make it 7-1 Rays, still a bleak situation), they were a fervent band of believers. They “get it” about baseball.

To suck all the juice out of being a baseball fan, you must become A BELIEVER. You must resist the tug of logic that lectures to you, “This game is over, there’s no way they can come back and win.” You must ignore the mature voices in your head that advise, “If you leave now, you can beat the crowd and be asleep in your bed by midnight. After all, big day at work tomorrow.” To be rewarded with all that baseball has to offer, you must bet the house every game. Truly expect something spectacular to happen, and sacrifice convenient home-bound transportation, sleep, and even your reputation as a grounded human being to the Diamond Gods. Have faith in the unreal.

People who leave games early have their feet planted firmly in “reality,” and in “rationality,” and in “the odds are…”, and in “being smart,” and in avoiding life’s (and baseball’s) sublime exquisiteness! People who leave Red Sox elimination playoff games early …. well, they just haven’t learned yet that you don’t do that, despite the lesson of Dave Henderson in 1986, and the lesson of Dave Roberts in 2004, and the many other startling lessons from recent Sox history (some happy memories, some not).

“The Rays haven’t lost a game all season when leading by 4 or more runs”…. “no team since 1929 has overcome a 7-run deficit in an elimination playoff game”…. “the Red Sox are slumping and the Rays are at the peak of their game”…. all of these “facts” scream at us to “face reality,” give up, and go home. But reality doesn’t exist until it unfolds before us, and over and over again Red Sox fans have learned that in postseason play, the reality that unfolds is usually shocking!

A friend came into my office this morning and said, “Watching those hits by Coco, Papi, and Drew — it was like a DREAM.” Not only was it LIKE a dream, it WAS a dream. Reality and rationality and the odds and being smart go right out the window when the Sox have their backs against the wall. Red Sox playoff games – indeed, ALL baseball games are dreams that we get to participate in with eyes wide open. And you don’t leave dreams early.

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The 2008 Season Starts Today

It’s fascinating to see how many people have given up hope for the 2008 Red Sox. Hello, don’t you realize that the season doesn’t even BEGIN for the Red Sox until they have their backs against the wall? And have you forgotten that the Red Sox have won 7 straight elimination games in the ALCS? To win those games, they had to defeat guys like Mariano Rivera, Kevin Brown, Mike Mussina, C.C. Sabathia, and Fausto Carmona. Is it really that unthinkable to add Scott Kazmir and James Shields to this list?

And it’s fascinating to me to hear people say, “Yeah, but this time, IT’S DIFFERENT.” Really? So, when the Sox were down 3-0 to the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS (after getting pounded in game 3), you had more faith in their potential to come back? And when they were down 3-1 to the Indians in the 2007 ALCS (after getting pounded in game 4), you had more faith in their potential to come back?

Look, when the Sox are down in the ALCS, their mojo turns around. Mark Bellhorn was 1 for 12 in the first three games of the 2004 ALCS, then he went 4-14 with 2 huge home runs in games 4,5,6, and 7. Johnny Damon was 1 for 18 in the first four games, then he went 5 for 17 in the next three games, with 2 huge home runs in game 7 in Yankee Stadium. I know, these guys aren’t even HERE this time around… but it’s the same uniform, and mojo carries over from year to year.

More evidence that the Rays are about to implode came over the newswire when we learned that Joe Maddon has decided to over-manage by switching up his rotation to pitch Scott Kazmir in game 5. MISTAKE. He has just messed with his team’s mojo and he’s about to learn a valuable lesson — don’t mess with your team’s mojo. With Kazmir pitching batting practice at Fenway tonight, we’ll win game 5 and head to the Trop with momentum. The fear we saw in the Rays’ eyes in game 1 will be back for games 6 and 7, and Beckett and Lester don’t lose big games. Good luck next year, Tampa Bay.

Am I the only one who is predicting the Red Sox will win their next three games? Are people so worried about their reputations, so obsessed with statistical probabilities (the chances of winning three in a row against an equal opponent is one in eight), so ignorant of what REALLY matters (mojo) that they have truly jumped ship?

Red Sox Nation, history has shown that Boston baseball memories don’t begin to be manufactured until TODAY, when the Red Sox MUST win. Buckle your seatbelt. If you can get a ticket, get your butt to Fenway. The 2008 Red Sox season is about to begin.

Sox in 7, then it’s bring on the Phillies.

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And then there were four…

Here are my thoughts as we gear up for the ALCS:

1) The day
that the Mets lost and the Brewers won, on the last day of the season
(breaking their first place tie), was one of the most exciting
baseball-viewing experiences I’ve had in the last few years. My son and
I were watching the Mets game on the TV and the Brewers game on MLBtv
(Internet), and even though I’m not a Brewers fan, I could feel their
hunger to make it to the postseason (for the first time in 26 years).
Sabathia pitched like a God. And the pain that Mets fans feel, having
lost the division on the last day of the season TWO YEARS IN A ROW,
might be their payback for games 6 and 7 of the 1986 World Series. What
comes around goes around…

2) The Cubs’ problems were clearly
mental. You don’t finish the season with the best record in MLB and
then drop three in a row in the Division Series unless you’re psyched
out. And you don’t make three errors in one inning with your ace on the
mound unless you’re psyched out. What did the Red Sox do after game 3
of the 2004 ALCS (down, three games to none) to gain the momentum
they’ve had ever since? They didn’t suddenly get BETTER. Something
clicked in their heads. Oh, what would the Cubs give for the formula
for that “click?”

3) I enjoy watching the NLCS games almost as
much as I will enjoy watching the ALCS games. It’s baseball. Playoff
baseball. Every at bat, every pitch is one of the most important in
each player’s career. This is what these players dreamed about, playing
wiffle ball in their driveways growing up. The thousands of hours of
practice, the hundreds and thousands of games they have played in their
lives, have all led to playing in baseball’s “final four.” Every
starter, every bench player, every relief pitcher, even the managers
and third base coaches could be part of a moment that will define their
careers — and it could happen at any time. Plus, these are great
players, many of them future hall of famers — Howard, Utley, Rollins,
Hamels, Lidge, Ramirez, Furcal, Maddux, Lowe, and of course, Joe Torre.

4) I sent out a new poll to the Red Sox Nation governors this evening. Here are my answers to my own questions:

a)
I expect the Red Sox to win the ALCS in four games. That’s right, a
sweep of the mighty, precocious Rays. Yes, it’s hard to really imagine
sweeping, but I have difficulty imagining a Red Sox loss — in fact, I
refuse to imagine that. So, I predict a sweep.

b) The National
League team that I would prefer to face in the World Series is the
Dodgers. Why? Boston-L.A. is a raucous rivalry, and it would be a blast
to “beat L.A.” twice in one year. It would be a classic battle of
coasts, a battle of cultures, a battle of climates, a battle of styles.
It’s two teams with incredibly rich baseball traditions.  It would be a
reunion of the 2004 Red Sox, with almost as many members of that Red
Sox team on the current Dodgers squad (Manny, Lowe, and Nomar, though
Nomar was only on the Sox for the first half of 2004). You know they’d
show lots of highlights of the ’04 Series if the Dodgers were our
opponent — and that would be fine with me. Even the Manny highlights.
I still love the guy and what he brought our team.

c) When I
can’t be at Fenway, my preferred mode of watching the Red Sox in a
playoff game is to watch in my living room, sitting half the time and
pacing the other half of the time, drinking a Polar Orange Dry soft
drink, either alone or with my nine year-old son. (I’m not the best
company during a Red Sox playoff game…. “anti-social” would describe
me well during these three hours….)

5) I love that Francona is
showing such faith in his pitching staff by keeping them in order…
Daisuke, then Beckett, then Lester, with Tim Wakefield thrown in for
good measure.

Trop time!

The Sleepless Veep

I wish I had the energy to write everything I’m thinking about the last two games of the Sox-Angels series, but like most of Red Sox Nation, I am operating today on about 5 hours sleep (and that’s the TOTAL amount of sleep I’ve gotten over the last TWO nights), and like most of Red Sox Nation, I have a full-time job that continues to demand my time and brain power regardless of how late I’m staying up, and I have a slew of young children who claim every other waking minute, around the clock. Suffice it to say, WHAT A BALL GAME LAST NIGHT. And what a gutsy call by Angels manager Mike Scoscia is for trying the suicide squeeze with one out in the ninth in a crucial playoff game that’s tied. And will the Red Sox please re-train Jon Lester to think like a nine-inning pitcher? Or at least an eight-inning pitcher? He CAN’T come out of that game. GO SOX!!

Gotta go.

11 Straight Wins, and 4 Straight Change Ups

More evidence that the Red Sox “own” the Angels mentally: K-Rod
throwing four consecutive change-ups to J.D. Drew when: a) K-Rod’s
fastball is devastating, and b) J.D. Drew has played irregularly over
the last month, has a stiff back, and should, theoretically, not have
his timing at 100%. When K-Rod is AFRAID to throw his fastball to J.D.
Drew with the go-ahead run on second base, a Red Sox win is a foregone
conclusion. It’s like hoisting a white flag.

Now, I wouldn’t be saying this if K-Rod had an off-speed pitch as
baffling as, say, Trevor Hoffman’s change up. But his change up is
simply above-average, and he pinned his team’s hopes on that pitch.

I find this as incomprehensible as Mike Scoscia not pinch hitting
for Howie Kendrick in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. The guy is
clearly psyched-out at the plate and has no chance of getting a big hit
in this series. You can see it in his eyes. He doesn’t think he belongs
here. He has watched several fastballs buzz down the center of the
strike zone without swinging, and has waved his bat at pitches that
aren’t close. Advantage: Boston.

Red Sox fans’ reaction to the fly ball hit by J.D. Drew that turned
out to be a two-run homer on Friday night was the SAME as the crowd’s
reaction to the fly ball hit by J.D. Drew that turned out to be a grand
slam in last year’s postseason. Off the bat, it looked like a routine
fly ball, and even as the outfielder went back, back, back, we still
expected it to be caught. Then, suddenly, it was in the seats, and it
took literally a full second to believe our eyes – on BOTH home runs.
J.D. Drew is truly the king of the “shocker home run” — shocking
because of their timing, and shocking because of the rocket launchers
that seem to kick in when the baseballs reach the apex of their flight.
They just keep going, going, going…. gone!

How valuable is Kevin Youkilis? He moved over to third base to take
the spot vacated by the injured Mike Lowell and proceeded to make TWO
stellar plays at third base — a barehanded, running, Mike Schmidt-type
stab of a grounder followed by a rocket throw to first base, and a
long-armed, reach-over-the-railing catch of a pop-up that was ticketed
for the camera dugout to make the peunultimate out of the game.

It’s difficult to imagine how diehard Cubs fans feel today…..
because it brings back a memory that I really don’t like to relive….

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Ten Straight

I know Jon Lester is a lefty, but tonight he reminded me of Roger Clemens during his Red Sox days. From his poise on the mound to his velocity (regularly hitting 96mph) to his mastery of the hitters, I felt like I was looking at the Sox’s next dominator.

I love Jason Bay (how can you not love him?) and his homer tonight was a shocker because Lackey was methodically ripping through the Sox lineup. I’m glad everyone’s happier with the team’s chemistry and that Tito’s blood pressure has been eased by the trade. But tonight, Manny’s absence in the lineup was extremely noticable. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate Jason Bay. I want both of them.

Ellsbury’s speed was huge tonight: two stolen bases, an infield hit, taking third on the ground out to the pitcher, the great catch in the 8th. This is the guy who will haunt Mike Scoscia’s nightmares over the next several days. He’s got game-changing speed.

This makes TEN consecutive postseason victories for the Red Sox over the Angels. The chances of this kind of a streak, given that the teams are basically equal, is one in 1,024. (That’s the probability of flipping a coin ten times and getting “tails” every time.) So I guess our teams aren’t equal. And it’s the intangibles that make us better. We own them mentally.

The Angels now have to win three out of four to take this series. The likelihood of THAT is remote. The Angels will have to get through Matsuzaka, Beckett, and Lester (again), as well as TWO games at Fenway (and that’s only if they’re lucky enough to win game two or three). Not going to happen.

I thought about Dave Henderson about ten times tonight.

YES!!