Believe

It’s been less than 24 hours and I’m still beaming. It’s a very weary, tired and scummy beaming, but nonetheless….



Thursday, October 28th was the day we always wondered about – the day after the Boston Red Sox won a World Series. Like most of you, the constant good thoughts and random fist-pumping/fits of yelling excitedly/smiling for no reason have not left you all day and probably won’t for a while. This is what it’s like…this is what it’s like to realize a dream and become a winner.



This is what it’s supposed to feel like.



I work in an office that, despite being 45-minutes from Boston, only features five or so Red Sox fans. The others are a mix of Phillies, Indians, Twins and Cardinals fans who couldn’t even begin to imagine what was churning inside us today. It’s been said that if you’re not from New England and not a true Sox fan, you will never really understand. People may scoff at that notion, but it’s true. You just can’t. Watching everyone try to get stuff accomplished today (a normal positive in most offices) was an act of futility. Talking, laughing, sighing and even just sitting in silence with other Sox fans while drinking some Dunkin’ Donuts coffee? That’s what today was supposed to be about. Waking up and realizing that it wasn’t a dream? That’s what today was supposed to be about. Calling the guy that got you into the Sox to begin with? That’s what today was supposed to be about. Thursday, October 28 was not a day for work – it was an unofficial Red Sox Nation holiday.



This is what it’s supposed to feel like.



Between the game and the post-game festivities – seeing them celebrate, seeing the joy, seeing the images of heroes past that couldn’t accomplish the goal – it was like a movie, a great big beautiful movie. Everything just came together, 18 years after the Sox lost Game 7 in 1986. The signs were there and looking back, this was the way it was supposed to happen. We were supposed to lose that Game 7 to the Yankees last season…it set everything in motion. If you look at it, this season was perhaps the greatest story in sports. Seriously…

  • a great defeat (game 7) followed by a triumpant return (start of the season)
  • a strong beginning followed by all lost hope (middle of the season) only to end with an unexpected surge (August)
  • amazing characters (what don’t you know about this team?)
  • twists and turns (Nomar, free agents, Francona)
  • an emotionally draining final step against all odds to get to the promise land (THE Yankees Series)
  • a nation waiting (the fans from San Fran to Boston and beyond)
  • a dream realized

But what was it that didn’t seem right? Wasn’t it supposed to be harder than this? Where was the heartache? Where was the moment when we hung our heads and said, “Not again”? It never happened because of the best sign of all was that this team was really, really good.



This is what it’s supposed to feel like.



They told us this club was built for a World Series. We didn’t believe them. Lucchino, Henry and Epstein all said to Keep The Faith and that everything would be ok. We didn’t believe them. When the team went into a .500 swoon, Pedro started making waves and the Nomar situation reached critical mass, they told us it would be ok. And they were right. All along, they were right. No false hopes. No empty promises. The day after Game 7 of last season, they said we’d be back to win it. And we did.



This is what it’s supposed to feel like.



But with every ying comes a yang. What made it so special to be a Red Sox fan was that certain something that very few other teams truly have – passion. Through generations, the burden of being a Sox fan was handed down to us like a bad sweater. We learned about the game, learned about our players and over time, became the most knowledgable fans in baseball. We learned to eat, sleep, breathe and cry the Red Sox. This team did what is almost impossible to do: cross every kind of barrier (gender, race, age) possible. Men, women, kids, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, dogs, cats: everyone could get into the Sox. It became the glue that held so many of us together – a common bond in a world that is rapidly losing the few it once had. When they won, we’d rejoice. When they’d lose, we ached. Oh, did we ache. Sports teams aren’t supposed to make people feel like this, a few steps shy of mass hysteria. But the Red Sox did, but will that change?



While we’ve gained something big, Red Sox Nation has also lost something big – the only identity we’ve every known as the chasers and not the champs. What helped make that bond so strong was hope and faith that someday, it would be our time. It ironclad 86 years worth of fans who all wanted the same thing. Now, it’s all changed. We’ve won. That hope and faith has been realized and we can enjoy what we’ve wanted for so long. Will it feel the same next year? Will cheering this team onto victory mean the same now that we’ve experienced what it’s all about? Will being a Red Sox fan be any different now? It’s a scary thought, almost like losing a loved one. Next year will be surreal to say the least. This team deserves the same love, deserves the same following and deserves the Nation cheering it on for another title. We’ll have to wait until next year to see if it happens. Be careful of what you wish for…we now have it.



That’s what it’s supposed to feel like.



So after seven months and the past two fantastic weeks, it’s time to take a break from the Sox. Honestly, I’m worn out. But that’s not stopping me at 9:22 on Thursday night, trying to find anything reminiscent of 24 hours ago when just for a while, everything was right with the world. But that world is starting to move on, looking to shift our focus on an election, the NBA or anything else that is just plain ‘next’ even though all we want to do is have time stand still. Sadly, this feeling will go away with time – all strong emotions do. But I made a decision to have a copy of today’s headlines framed and keep it as a constant reminder that no matter what happens, life was never so good as it felt today. Ever.



And that’s what today felt like to me.



thanks for reading,

nason

World Series Game 3: Running Diary…

The running diary is back…it’s game 3 of the World Series. I’m excited…let’s dance!

–8:20-ish: The media is touting Cards pitcher Jeff Suppan as their best postseason pitcher, the same guy who sucked for the Red Sox last season and couldn’t even make the postseason roster. He begins by going deep into counts against Damon and Orlando before giving up a bliz-ast to Manny, who couldn’t have picked a better time to awaken offensively.

–9:01-ish: Unfortunately, Pedro starts out doing the same for the Sox. In what is the biggest start ever in his career, he doesn’t look good as the bases are loaded thanks in small part to another Bill Mueller groundball snafu. Seriously, what is the story here? By the grace of some god, Manny fires a strike to home to gun out Larry Walker on an Jim Edmonds flyball, avoiding even more criticism for being regarded as a ‘lazy’ outfielder. Not noticed is that Mueller jumped up to attempt to cut off the ball, thankfully thrown well over his head. I fully expect him to turn on the Sox and join the Cards any minute now.

–9:33-ish: Suppan somehow reaches on a squibber to 3rd and Edgar Renteria attempts to re-aggravate every injury Trot Nixon’s ever had as his double sends Trot on a watery ride reminiscent of Funtown USA. On another miraculous play, Suppan’s acid tabs kick in and he becomes afraid of home plate, deciding to skittishly retreat back to 3rd on a normal play that would score a run, getting tossed out by David Ortiz on a cross-field throw. The Sox continue to use the luck of the Patriots and have almost everything go their way. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Big Papi gets the second Sox honorable Defensive Player Expected To Be Worse award for this shot.

–For the next 20 or so minutes, Fox’s Joe Buck and Tim McCarver analyze and overanalyze the Suppan play. Buck is almost getting mad that his hometown Cards would do such a thing, making me think he might cry if the Sox can pull this series off. Suppan is shown getting pissed off in the dugout. He just seems like the kind of guy that is good at a lot of stuff, but is really arrogant about it. I don’t know what it is, but I feel that he deserves anything that will happen to him tonight.

–9:43 pm: Mueller’s on second and Trot’s up. Jesus, he needs to do….

–9:43 and 32 seconds: He did! Nixon lines a single to right, scoring Billy Swiss Cheese. The good thing is that guys like Manny and Nixon have yet to really come alive. If they do, this offense will be hard to stop.

Side note: I can’t stand the National League’s batting pitcher rule and this is why: Pitchers batting are a waste of time. While it’s cute when they get a hit or the occasional Mike Hampton blast, they usually strike out and look awful doing it. While I prefer the DH because I grew up with it, it just seems that you’d want to have the pitcher focus on throwing and leave the batting to the pros. Purists can talk about how you get more double-switches and more strategy, but don’t you get the same type of strategy when managers are looking to pitch around a DH and the batters he affects around him?

10:20: The second of two awkward Chris Myers in-inning interviews, Keith Tkachuk talks about how it’s tough to be a Sox fan and also play for the St. Louis Blues, all while getting heckled from someone a few rows back. This is almost as bad as the Larry Walker family discussion from an inning back, smack dab in the middle of a Sox offensive rally. A friend of mine at work today said Fox tends to attempt to make their games like movies with all of the drama and I’m inclined to agree. By the way, where is Scooter? He must be a Cards fan too.

Side note: These fans are almost dead silent, which was very important as these people are crazy about baseball. Two years ago, I got to see a game there and was amazed at how much St. Louis loves the Cardinals. Everyone wears red and very similar to the Sox Nation, you’ll find people wearing the most random players jerseys like Mike Matheny. My friend even got two ‘Sox suck!’ comments wearing a Mo Vaughn shirt of all things. I’d agree with the sentiment that St. Louis is the National League version of the Sox Nation.

10:25: Pedro is in cruise control. I’m not even giving next season a thought right now.

10:30: The third STL pitcher of the night tosses a walk to Pedro with Damon coming up. This game is about to get ugly. The close-ups of St. Louis fans have begun. ….seconds later, Damon hits into a double-play, so that will be the last of me saying things like ‘this game is about to get ugly.’

10:34: As Pedro continues his dominance by striking out Al Pujols to close out the sixth, the possible NL MVP starts griping at the umpire after the second strike and consequently, swings and misses at strike three. This team is frustrated and it’s showing. Their starters are being knocked out in less than five innings, their relievers are throwing a ton of pitches and their big guys can’t get started. I don’t think there’s a game plan for this type of stuff, but whatever the Sox are doing is working.

10:43: Bill Mueller is from Missouri! Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo…

10:46: Nice to know about that Taco Bell gave everyone in the stadium a plastic holder for their tickets. Other commercial notes:

—The Big Fat Obnoxious Boss show looks pretty good, at least for giving the bosses of American lines like “I think I could kill you” and “Knock knock…who’s there? Get the hell out of my office.” When you work in an office, someone that spills coffee on their shirt is cause for a laugh. Shows like Fox’s new Nanny 911 show actually make me scared of ever having kids.

–I’m starting to dislike Lebron James already.

–A Seed of Chucky movie? Were we demanding this?

11:01 pm: Martinez continues to crush the Cardinals’ hopes, retiring 14 men in order before closing out the seventh, fanning Reggie Sanders on a fastball. Alright, I’m thinking of next season for a second. If this ends up being Pedey’s last start, what an amazing way to close it out. There will be tons of words written on the Pedro Martinez Boston experience and whether he stays or goes will be one of the offseason’s great storylines. To me, he’s the second-greatest starter to ever wear the Sox uniform and should be remembered as such, not for the the antics that tend to follow him around from season to season. Will it be time to say goodbye if the impossible happens? It all depends. What the Sox should and shouldn’t will be saved for a better time, but tonight will always be remembered as a landmark night for a landmark pitcher.

11:07 pm: A really awkward interview with the guy who plays Leon in the Budweiser commercial, proving that great commercial characters should just stay in the commercials. Another bad choice by Fox, pushed by Budweiser I’m sure. And why was he hanging out in a party suite with a bunch of really young blonde girls?

11:10 pm: The first Nomar appearance! I can’t believe it! He’s back! He’s…oh wait, it’s only a Gatorade commercial? Thanks, beautiful.

11:25 pm: I’m physically shaking with excitement as we come to bottom of the ninth…

11:28 pm: Walker hits a homer off Foulke to bring it to 4-1 with the rest of the middle of the order coming up. Fox flashes that 18 years ago tomorrow, the Sox lost Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. What happened tonight? Well, that little Game 6 deal. They really, really hate the Red Sox.

11:39 pm: Foulke gets a strikeout to end the game, ending one of the more exciting games of the postseason. The Sox have won eight games in a row and are one game away from winning a title. One. Single. Game. You can talk about jinxes and curses and not getting too excited, but there’s something about this team that will not allow them to blow this. The whole ‘one game at a time’ attitude is actually happening and the Sox are showing that with a big team effort, anything is possible…even the impossible.

Now in less than 24 hours, another free agent-to-be will start another ‘most important game of his life’ situation, someone that’s pissed off he got looked over during the ALDS and ALCS, someone that turned down a lot of money that is no guarantee that he will get back, someone that wants to win this game worse than you could ever imagine and show the fans, media and management that he wasn’t as crazy and emotional as everyone thought.

That man is Derek Lowe. Prepare for battle. Prepare to believe.

thanks for reading,

nason

whoaaa…awwwwww…listen to the music….

Was I surprised to see that Ashlee Simpson was busted for attempted lip-synching during Saturday Night Live? No. Was I disappointed at yet another female pop singer proving the stereotype true? Yes.

What is most bizarre is the myriad of excuses her and Geffen Records have used: the drummer hit the wrong button to play a drum track, the band played the wrong song and she somehow couldn’t adapt and best of all, her severe acid reflux caused her to lose her voice and attempt to use a backup vocal track. Yikes. I’ve suffered with acid reflux (anyone that’s had it can agree suffer is a light word), but have never lost my voice. It doesn’t happen, but for some reason, Simpson is attempting to buck modern science. Her deer-in-headlights look and multiple excuses prove she was lip-synching and got BUSTED. Good for her…let this be a warning to other pop shams.

Music, to me, can be really good or really bad. If most of you are saying, “Wow Nason…that’s more obvious than the fact you’re good looking,” I agree. But think about it: when a song/album is good, it’s really good. You’re playing it in your car, computer and MP3 player at the gym. Good music makes you wonder how you lived without it before it was released and whether something this good could ever be released again. Then you hear another good song a few weeks later and the same feelings get churned up again. Kind of like love, so I’ve been told.

But when music is bad, it’s horrible. This can happen for a variety of reasons, setting aside the normal personal preferences we all have. We laugh at it, cringe at it and even ridicule the bands/singers enough that they start drinking Drano and go into rehab until they release an Unplugged album and find their way into our hearts again.

One of the big issues I have with the current scene is the situations like Simpson’s, the same that plague so many others in her field. Take Britney Spears, long hailed for being the newly-anointed queen of mouthing the words. The same with Madonna, Cher, etc. If you can’t perform a concert without actually singing, YOU SHOULDN’T BE DOING A CONCERT. I don’t buy this new-thinking ‘You’re buying the performance’ crap either that is supposed to mean that watching them dance is better than hearing them croon. Pop music is turning more into a looks-and-image contest than ever, which may be another obvious statement. However, there still must be a point where the consumer demands that the person they want to hear sing can actually do it.

Seriously, do we even know if the people we hear on albums are actually them? Sound crazy? Is it?

Almost worse is when you hear a band in concert that sound nothing like their albums. While some may say that the situations (studio as compared to live) is apples to oranges (by the way, one of those analogies I hate…they’re both roundish fruit), you can’t tell me that I shouldn’t expect some pretty damn good similarities between the two. Rock music especially lends itself to this problem as alt-rock bands are notorious for having great ‘studio’ voices, aided by more technology than NASA, who can’t perform in public to save their musical lives. I still remember how badly Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach sounded on a show I saw a few years ago, as compared to Aaron Lewis of Staind who was on the same bill. Same genre of music, completely different outcome. You don’t get this with the older artists as much, simply because a senior citizen who feels like they’re getting ripped off will complain until the singer is scared into (gulp) doing their own vocals. For some reason, Generations Y, X and beyond don’t expect as much.

Having said that, I was pleased to see a group actually sue Scott Stapp (formerly of Creed) of putting on a sh*tass performance last year. I don’t think they won, but a lot of attention was given to the case, which was refreshing. In this whole consumer/manufacturer world we find ourselves trapped in, bands aren’t expected to actually care about their customers. It’s bizarre when you get right down to it. Bands are really businesses, something only two groups (Rolling Stones and Kiss) have nailed out and practically patented. You push several products that move the brand along (albums), occassionally rolling out the new product line for show (concerts) with some other nice cross-promotional ties (any merchandising/endorsement deal) and voila! You’ve got yourself a nice little small business. Oh, the music? Forget it…if you’ve got a cool image and some nice products, the music will take care of itself. This would explain the last five-seven years of Aerosmith.

Inherently, modern music is based on these three following tenents:

1) No current music will ever be as good as the 1970s. It just can’t happen, but can die trying.

2) Lyrics are about two things: love and everything else.

3) A good marketing machine will do more for a band than musical ability will.

Take Lindsay Lohan, who I briefly mentioned last week with regard to actresses becoming singers in increasing numbers. Lohan has a new pop song called Rumors which is her weak attempt at raging against the machine that is the evil media. Let me brighten your day and strengthen your resolve by republishing the chorus:

“I’m tired of rumors startin/I’m sick of being followed/I’m tired of people lyin/Sayin’ what they want about me/Why can’t they back up off me/Why can’t they let me live/I’m gonna do it my way/Take this for just what it is.”

Number one, she’s 17. Enough said. Two, if you’re a celebrity or even a pseudo-celeb like The Miz from every single Real World/Road Rules Challenge show, deal with it. You being scrutinized and talked about is how the rest of the world gets even with you. Think you’re going to make a ton of money, live an unreal live and not have to deal with pressure from us? Uh-huh. I’m not a big proponent of the whole idea that every lyric should be meaningful since there are plenty of time when idiocy must reign supreme, but could we have done without another crappy song about absolutely nothing? I’m also at the point of wishing Exxpose, Rick Astley, Billy Ocean and Morris Day & the Time would come back to give us some sort of sanity.

But as long as the people keep buying it, they’ll keep cranking it out. Teenage girls and boys have changed the face of pop music with their TRL, disposable incomes and ability to swing trends without batting an eyelash. We’ve all contributed to it at one point or another, so we might as well enjoy watching the zeppelin burn and crash to the ground.

I didn’t even begin about music downloading, the Radiohead/Coldplay phenomenon of depression and how uber-trendy bands disgust me. Maybe nex time…

thanks for reading (and if you like it, tell a friend)

-nason

ALCS: Chapter 7….Believe.

I was visiting my buddy Clyde on a cold, almost frigid, night in Bangor, ME, over the winter. We entered a bar – probably our third of the night – and ordered a couple Captain n’ Cokes. As I took the first few sips, I turned and looked at the tv to see what was on. ESPNews was on and they were talking about Alex Rodriguez and how the Yankees were finalizing a trade for him. It felt like finding out they had put urine in my drink – putrid, shocking and ultimately, disappointing. The most expensive team in the sport had stolen arguably the greatest player in the sport from the clutches of the Red Sox. They had won again…

…but not tonight.

For the first time in a long time, we won. We beat the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS in their stadium in not just a win…a blowout win. I feel like someone dropped off $1 million tax-free on my front step. I don’t know what to do, how to think, how to feel. I’ve never been here before and I hope I never leave.

What feels so good is that for once, it’s the Yankees that have to answer the questions. They had us down 3-0 and on the ropes in not just one, but two games. But the Sox came back and got to within 3-2 in two of the most incredible marathon games you’ll ever see. Then Jesus Schilling provided us with one of those Boston Sports Legends moments in throwing a Game 6 that will go down as one of the most impressive efforts from an athlete period ever.

The great Yankees, not the Sox, now have to answer questions about their manager and his decisions. The great Yankees, not the Sox, will now have to answer to their fans about how a $190 million team could falter this badly. A-Jerk now has the offseason to stew about his karate chop, which doesn’t bother me a bit. Body language tells a lot and believe me, he is one of the most underrated a**holes in baseball. And best of all, the team that used its money and clout to steal Hideki Matsui and Jose Contreras from our grasp can now use that money for something useful – attempting to buy World Series tickets in Fenway Park on Saturday.

Some random thoughts I jotted down from the night:

–We had so many Dagger Chances – opportunites to drive the stake down the Yankees heart for good – that is made even a seven-run lead tense. Bellhorn, Nixon and Ramirez all had chances to put this lead to ridiculous proportions. Sitting here now, who cares? But then, even a 37-2 lead would be nerve-wracking.

–Derek Lowe was PHENOMENAL, perhaps making back some of the money he lost during the season. But when Francona decided to bring in Pedro during the seventh inning, I got Vietnam Vet-style flashbacks of last year’s seventh. When the Yanks hit back-to-back doubles? I developed a twitch.

(side note: It’s 1 am and I’m watching the coverage of the Boston post-game ‘get-together.’ They’re trying to basically take apart a McDonald’s near the park and the riot police are out. This could get very ugly.)

–When Bellhorn hit the two-run homer to give the Sox 10 runs in the top of the eighth, it was the first time I thought, ‘This could happen.’ However, I didn’t say it out loud and quickly scolded myself for such a ridiculous thought. Manny then popped up for the 20th straight time and quickly brought myself back to earth.

–A very high-ranking guy at work today said flatly, “You know they (the sox) are going to lose tonight…don’t you?” I feel like painting a giant B and the word ‘Believe’ on his desk.

–Timlin shutting down Jeter, A-Jerk and Sheffield in the 8th. A HUGE turning point. Granted there was a huge lead, but it’s the little things that put your mind at ease. The ohmigodohmygodohmygod feelings begin…

–Before the bottom of the ninth, obvious drama is involved. So instead of maybe sticking with the action and talking about what we’re about to see, Fox cuts to commercials, one of which is that stupid Wendy’s un-official spokesman having a random conversation with some curly-haired wise ass kid. I mean, there are times to accentuate drama and times to cut away. This was not a time to cut away.

–Timlin walks two with two outs in the ninth and Alan Embree has to come in. Is anything easy for us? If Fan Man dropped in and delayed the game, I wouldn’t be surprised. There’s nothing like that paranoia feeling to make you feel alive. I’m finding myself justifying how the Yankees could come back and screw the Sox again. Mind you, there’s two outs and the Sox have a seven-run lead. Yet, I’m still not convinced.

Finally, elation. F**k the curse, f**k 1918, f**k it all. We finally won and will now host Game 1 of the World Series on Saturday night. Surreal to say the least…

by the way, does anyone know what day it is?