Tag Archives: Red Sox

My Son Hates Baseball

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“Dad, I don’t think I like baseball and I don’t want to play anymore.”

Except for Will saying he doesn’t love me or that he’s become a New York sports fan, nothing uttered from my 6-year-old’s lips stings as much as my boy — my oldest son — telling me he doesn’t want to partake in America’s pastime. My father’s pastime. My pastime.

And the first thing that ran through my head was “How can I raise a kid who doesn’t like baseball?”

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“Hey Dad, You Wanna Have a Catch?”

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“The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again.”

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There are two types of people in this world — people who love Field of Dreams and get choked up at the end of the movie, and heartless jerks.

Fathers, sons, and baseball. There’s just something special about America’s pastime, boys, and their dads that defies explanation. It’s the reason why I went out and bought a tiny baseball mitt when I found out MJ was pregnant, and why the first thing that popped into my head when I realized I had a son was teaching him how to play catch. And when it’s the Boston Red Sox — one of the most storied franchises in all of sports — you’re talking about a birthright which generations of fans have laid claim to and passed down to their kids. Especially in my family, where we take Boston sports fanaticism to previously unheard of levels.

Which is why attending Game 2 of the World Series with my father and brother was one of the most special moments of my life.

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The Patriots, Red Sox, and Why We Stay Until the End

fen_boysI don’t remember much about my first trip to Fenway Park.

My first memory is the Green Monster. I had seen it on TV, but in person it loomed like the Great Wall of China to my 7-year-old mind. I remember the rickety wooden seats in the third-base grandstand being ridiculously uncomfortable (some things never change), to the point I had to sit on my red backpack. I remember Roger Clemens was pitching because I had begged my dad to pick a game when the “Rocket” was on the mound. And I remember thinking Fenway Franks taste a million times better than hotdogs at home.

I can’t tell you how many strikeouts Clemens had, what the score was, or even who won. But I’ll always remember being with my dad, because at one point during the game he grabbed my brother and I and said “I always dreamed about taking my boys to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox.”

On Saturday night, it was my turn to live the dream.

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Boston Will Overcome

boston_marathonThe heartbreak was not relegated to runners on the infamous hill at mile 20 yesterday.

For those of you who don’t pay attention to the news, two bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon injured more than 120 people and killed three others — including an 8-year-old child, according to news reports. I grew up — and still live in — a town 30 miles south of Boston. I work 12 miles from Boston. And for two years I lived in parts of the city called Allston and Brighton. When you factor in all the sporting events witnessed there and the bars frequented in my youth, it’s safe to say it’s a city I know and love. And Patriots Day is Boston’s moment to shine.

Let me paint you a picture:

Most of the city has the day off to celebrate the first battle of the Revolutionary War, but what that really means is everyone in Boston is doing one of two things — watching the 11:05 a.m. Red Sox game or taking in the Boston Marathon. It’s more of an experience than a sports day. Everyone starts drinking at 9 a.m. — even earlier if the weather is good — and Bostonians celebrate what many consider to be the actual start of spring. Everyone is happy and the mood is celebratory. If you time it right and the Sox cooperate, you can potentially see the Red Sox win, walk outside the stadium and see the runners in Kenmore Square enter the final mile before finishing in Copley.

It’s really pretty spectacular, and it’s the kind of day and event that you can only experience here.

Someone, or some group of people, bombed spectators near the finish line. Everything is still under investigation at this point and I’m not going to add to the speculation. That’s not what this is about. This is about the fact that I knew multiple people who were there today. It’s about the fact that if I could’ve gotten tickets, I would’ve taken my son to the game and then to see the runners finish. It’s about attacking a group of innocent people doing nothing but cheering on family and friends, as well as runners who spent months if not years training for this one day to complete something truly magnificent in the realm of athletic achievements.

You bombed Boston today. You took at least three people — and one little kid — away today with your actions. I have to assume you’re pleased with that outcome, as no one detonates a bomb unless they want it to destroy those close to it. And yes, you scared a lot of people and wreaked genuine havoc. But wherever you are, I hope you take note of a few things.

I hope you noticed the number of people running for cover was dwarfed by the multitude of heroes who ran toward the blast. They weren’t even all law enforcement either. Some were just random bystanders and volunteers, but it didn’t matter because they ran into the hell you created and they’re the reason there are so few casualties. The smoke hadn’t even cleared before they were there to battle the evil you concocted.

I hope you noticed the runners who never stopped running, but instead took it upon themselves to detour to the nearest hospital to give blood.

I hope you noticed random stars like former New England Patriot Joe Andruzzi jumping into the fray to save people. He learned it from his brothers — Sept. 11 first responders who rushed toward the Twin Towers when everyone else was running away. Even our famous athletes get their hands dirty here.

I hope you saw social media ablaze with support for Boston in the form of thoughts, prayers, and memes in seemingly instantaneous fashion.

And if you really need proof your efforts backfired, look no farther than the Bronx. Yankee Stadium put up a “United We Stand” message with a Red Sox logo on it, and sang Sweet Caroline during their game. Your efforts at division and destruction somehow managed to bring together two blood rivals who make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict look like a mild skirmish. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.

And I hope you look at all of this and realize that while you hurt us, you won’t win. You can’t win. Because most people are inherently good, and in Boston we take care of our own. That includes the injured runners and spectators who aren’t from here, because when you’re a guest in our town you’re one of us. The goal of terrorism is to instill fear and tear people apart, but you must not be from here because you have no idea what lengths we’ll go to to take care of our friends, neighbors, and loved ones.

I will admit I listened to the police scanner after the blast and the chaos and desperation in the voices of the responders was heart-breaking. Everyone driving a box truck was a potential terrorist and everyone with a backpack a suspect. Then all the calls from runners and spectators poured in talking about every suspicious person they saw near the finish line. I did fear the fallout because it’s only natural for the city to be thirsty for vengeance, and I worried some of it will be taken out in the wrong way on the wrong people.

Events like this rob us of people which is the worst, but also of our innocence and a little of our humanity as well. And it kills me.

So I beg Bostonians to be better than the person or people who declared war on us. Let’s avoid talk of lynch mobs and vigilante justice. Let’s not joke about roving gangs of pissed off Southie thugs tracking the perpetrators down before the police so they can tear him/her from limb to limb. Instead, let’s remember who we are.

We’re Boston. We’re hardy New Englanders who seem as cold as our weather to the outside world, but secretly we’re marshmallows when it comes to the people we love. We’re hard-working, honest and devoted to family. We make friends for life. We’re educated and home to some of the world’s leading colleges and universities. That’s why we’re better than the people who did this. We’re stronger than the people who did this. And we’ll battle the people who did this by getting through this together.

You’ve given us your worst but I’m confident you’re about to see the very best of Boston.

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A Perfect Father & Son Day at Fenway Park

Will_Soxopener_mainFenway Park is a cramped, antiquated place to watch a baseball game. Fans in left field sit atop a 37-foot tall Monster, fans in right field face the wall in left field instead of home plate, and fans taller than 5’5″ weighing more than 150 lbs have serious trouble fitting into seats built for people 101 years ago. It’s a physically uncomfortable experience that can leave you bruised and sore long after you leave the confines of Updike’s “lyric little bandbox.” Simply put, it’s a ballpark that often matches the awkward and tumultuous Red Sox organization to which we pledge ourselves for life.

I’ve been a Red Sox fan for 33 years and never been to a home opener. My son just turned 5 and now — thanks to the overwhelming generosity of my parents — he can add it to his Red Sox resume.

Bringing a little kid to a Red Sox game is — well, it’s difficult. Especially this time of year, since April in Boston is generally an extension of winter. Usually it’s 40 degrees and raining, which makes baseball crowds look like Patriots fans in November. But at least the football folks expect that, whereas the Boys of Summer are generally associated with the aforementioned season of the same name. Which is a long way of saying people are effing IRATE when spring hasn’t sprung on time.

But sometimes the baseball gods grant you a perfect day, bestowing upon you 70-degrees of sun-shiney awesomeness in which to bask. It was a day you’re lucky to get in June, forget April. And despite the usual difficulties involved with taking a 5-year-old to a sporting event in which he has to stay in the same seat for hours on end, it was one of the best days of my life. Here are a few highlights: Will_soxopener_hotdog

— On the green line heading to Kenmore Square, Will was enjoying the train ride. Then the conductor — sporting a ridiculous Boston accent of course– said “Next stop, Kenmore. Exit here for Fenway Pahk.” Will’s head snapped around with a huge smile on his face as he started jumping up and down yelling “Fenway Park! Fenway Park! Dada, the Red Sox. We’re here!!” Needless to say he was a train favorite among our fellow riders.

— There is nothing — and I mean NOTHING — like sharing a Fenway Frank with your son for the first time. We also had fries, orange soda, a pretzel, M&Ms, cotton candy, popcorn, and ice cream we ate out of a miniature batting helmet. Everyone knows calories and healthy eating don’t exist on opening day.

— We sat in a section of the bleachers right up against the right field roof deck. There are many fans who stand along the railings, so if we looked up and to the left they were hovering over us and within shouting distance. I was watching the game with Will on my lap so I didn’t notice him gesticulating and making faces. Finally he tapped me on the leg and pointed up to the roof deck. Turns out he had been communicating with a very attractive 20-something woman, and all of her friends had taken notice. Will then blew her a kiss and the roof deck went absolutely NUTS! That’s when she screamed down “Oh. My. God. You are so cute. When you turn 18, you call me!”

Of course, it wasn’t all fun. Will is, after all, only 5 years old. That means his attention span is still — well, it’s crap. I really wanted to make it to the 7th inning stretch so we could at least sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and fulfill my Field of Dreams fantasy. So you can imagine my disappointment when he turned to me in the top of the 2nd inning and tearfully told me he wanted to go home. Even after all the treats I got him he still wanted to leave in the 5th inning, so I reached deep into my parenting toolbox and came up with the best weapon I could find — bribery.

Will now has a new stuffed Red Sox Rally Monkey. I died a little inside buying a stupid gimmick that originated with lame west coast Angels fans, but it bought me two more innings and led to the best part of the day.

Will’s favorite player is Will Middlebrooks, the up and coming Red Sox third-baseman who wowed everyone the day before by hitting three home runs in one game. But Will likes him because they share the same name. The Red Sox were tied with the Orioles 0-0 in the 7th with runners on 2nd and 3rd. And who else strides to the plate but Will’s favorite player. His interest in the game was intermittent at best, but when I told him Will was up and the game was in his hands, he suddenly became laser focused. He started shouting “GO WILL! YAY WILL MIDDLEBROOKS!” at the top of his lungs. It drew some smiles and stares from the people around us, and I quickly explained his name is Will too. My son’s enthusiasm became contagious and suddenly everyone around us began to join in the chant. Suddenly half a section was chanting “WI-LL, WI-LL!” in the middle of Middlebrooks’ at-bat, to the point it wasn’t clear if they were shouting for Middlebrooks or my son. It was actually pretty damn cool and gave me chills.

Will_soxopener_train A hit right then and there would’ve absolutely brought the house down and been a fairytale ending, but the baseball gods can’t ALWAYS come through. Middlebrooks struck out, which devastated my son and sent him into a tearful fit.

Then, as I was trying to calm him, Daniel Nava blasted a 3-run homer over the Monster giving the Red Sox a lead they would not relinquish as they went on to beat Baltimore as well as giving us reason to smile, high-five and celebrate.

I get the people who say it’s a waste to bring kids this young to the game. They never make it to the end, the tickets are ridiculously expensive, and you can easily drop $100 for food, drinks and stuffed bribery monkeys. The kids never sit still, they whine about everything, and you barely get to watch any of the game. It’s all true, I can’t deny it. So why did I bother bringing Will?

Years from now when he’s proving his Red Sox pedigree to someone, he’ll talk about this day. He won’t even remember all of it, but he’ll remember something. Nava’s homer, the outfield grass, the Green Monster…he’ll recall the details with youthful and nostalgic rose-colored glasses. He’ll remember that his old man took him to opening day at Fenway Park, ¬†and in time he’ll come to recognize and appreciate what that means and the tradition behind it. He’ll know he didn’t just sit in the same park where Ted Williams painted a seat red with a 502-foot home run and Dave Roberts stole a base from history, but that he was in the same place where my dad took me countless times. And his grandfather took him. It’s a place and a team that ties generations together — even when the Red Sox rope forms a noose.

Will fell asleep on the train ride home. He was curled up against me and I had my arm around him while he rested his head on my shoulder. I just watched him fondly for three stops, smiling at his cuteness decked out in Sox gear and noticing how the sun brought out a smattering of freckles across the bridge of his nose.

I looked up and saw a grandfather with his grandson sitting diagonally across from us in roughly the same position. He nodded at me and smiled. I nodded back. Then he leaned in and said “Remem-bah this. This here is the good stuff brotha.”

I will always remember my first opening day with my son, because yesterday the game became far less important than the moment and the memories.

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