Thursday, September 24, 2009

Baseball Love meets Book Love

I was just trying to catch up with my google reader list (467 items!) and came across a story on Paper Cuts (the NY Times blog about books), about Novel-T, a company that makes literary-themed baseball t-shirts.

The website has a clever fantasy team roster up, with Hester Prynne at first, Thoreau in right field, and Sawyer on second (you'd think he'd be convincing his friends what fun it is there and once accomplished, he'd nudge Huck Finn out of the shortstop position!).


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 23rd is a special day in my life.

In our lives, actually. Because it is the day that all three of us first (and last, in all cases but one) went to Fenway Park. It is the day that we fell in love with the Boston Red Sox. The day that we became diehard baseball fans.

So, today marks the 10-year anniversary of our family's being fans of the Boston Red Sox.

It's been a wild ride, as it has for anyone who's followed the Sox these years. From that 1999 postseason that first reeled us in, to the ever-painful 2003, to the elation of 2004, and the repeat in 2007 (which happened came at 6 am on a Tuesday morning for me), we've loved it.

And it keeps getting better. Even though a core part of being a Red Sox fan went away when they won, we wouldn't give that up for anything. Now we can take more pleasure in the little things - beating the Yankees, for example. Or having a couple of Oregonians, Washingtonians, and even a British Columbian on the squad. We still get those amazing come-from-behind victories and still expect to be figuring in the playoffs - but we'd stick with them till the end, even if we weren't.

It's changed us, too. The most obvious example, in my case, is that I speak Spanish mainly because I'm a Red Sox fan - if I had never gone to that game, I never would have worshiped Pedro Martinez, and then, I never would have lived in the Dominican Republic.

Let me take a moment to remember some of the Red Sox-y things we've done:

-Gone to Fenway Park.
-Seen the Yankees play the Red Sox at Fenway Park. (This only applies to Fran, sadly)
-Built a Johnny Damon snowman (before he went to the dark side)
-Gone to Jacoby Ellsbury's 2007 Welcome Home Parade
-Seen the Red Sox in Oakland - multiple times
-Seen the Red Sox in Seattle - many, many times
-Seen the Red Sox lose in 19 innings
-Gone to see "Fever Pitch" with the whole street, all fellow Sox fans, dressed to the nines in Sox gear and cheering
-Gotten autographs from Jason Varitek, Johnny Damon (before he was evil), Pedro Martinez, John Valentin, and several others
-Cried all night and skipped school the next day when the Sox lost in 2003
-Seen Johnny Pesky speak at Portland's PGE Park
-Watched or listened to Red Sox games at any and all times of day
-Moved to the Dominican Republic in search of the baseball life (this one only applies to me)
-And much more...

So I couldn't let the day pass without taking the time to reflect on the Red Sox and the past ten years.

Now that I have, I think I'll go curl up and watch "Fever Pitch", and relive that amazing year.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hometown Hero

Today, during the first game of the Red Sox's double header against the Rays, the broadcasters were talking about the emails they had received at Soxbooth. People from South Dakota and Wyoming invited them out to visit. They had heard from The Dakotas, Utah, Tacoma... even Portland, Oregon! "Of course," they added, "the fans in Portland are mighty proud of Jacoby Ellsbury."

True story! We ARE proud of our Jacoby! Of course, he isn't really a Portlander, seeing as he grew up in the town of Madras. But Oregon is small enough - and has produced so few Major Leaguers - that any connection with the state will do.

And Jacoby is Oregonian in a big way: Oregon-born, Oregon-raised - even Oregon-educated, as he stayed in-state for college (OSU). He's probably even more Oregonian than I am.

Oh, yes, we love him. Some members of my family - namely, the other "contributors" to this blog - went to Jacoby's welcome home parade in Madras in 2007.

Francesca took this picture. She was actually that close to Jacoby.

Apparently it really was a hometown affair; F and G say they felt a little out of place, like intruders. But what an experience.

Anyway, I thought it was time for a tribute to the guy who means so much to Massachusetts and Oregon - and all of Red Sox Nation. After all, he just had a birthday on Friday - he's 26 now.

So, Jacoby, this one's for you. Hope you have many, many more years of excellent baseball in your future.

And I hope they're in Boston.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Baseball on the Radio

Tonight, I'm listening to the Sox game. (As opposed to watching it.)

I used to listen to games all the time. That was mainly out of necessity: In Portland, before, there was only Gameday Audio and the occasional national broadcast. Other than that, if you were out of area, the Red Sox were not available on television. You could only listen to it over the radio.

In 2000, I spent summer afternoons, from 4 until dinnertime, upstairs in the stuffy study with a scorecard or my journal, listening to the Red Sox. Okay, not every afternoon, but a huge amount of them. It's a very pleasant memory. Sleepy warmth and good baseball - I especially remember a come-from-behind win on a double off the Monster by Nomar against the Texas Rangers. It was a sweet summer, except for all of the drama with Carl Everett and Pedro getting punched by Gerald Williams of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and barely missing a no-hitter against them.

Lately, though, I've been watching a lot more games. It gets cheaper every year on, and it's nice to know what players look like, to see how they run, how they catch, what their wind-up or batting stance looks like. I heard about Jacoby Ellsbury scoring from 2nd on a wild pitch, but didn't see it - didn't see him play - until months after it had happened. Since then, I've preferred watching to listening.

But there are other benefits to listening to the games. For one thing, I like the announcers better. For another thing, you learn more. The announcers talk more - there's more color commentary and therefore more background information. And I like the commercials, because they're local - to Boston. It makes me feel closer.

Coincidentally, I was surfing the web today, looking for updates about the Portland Beavers, and found this Dwight Jaynes post about building a casino by the Rose Quarter. At first I shuddered. Can you think how horrific that would be? Whenever there's a concert at the RQ the traffic is insane. Imagine having concerts at the RQ AND a casino? And those horrible lights? And the very idea... I kind of agreed with Gov. Kulongoski when he refused to let a casino in Portland to fund MLB, even though I really wanted an MLB team. He was right: baseball and gambling don't mix, as Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose know too well. It was... in bad taste.

But then, while thinking about baseball on the radio, I remembered my favorite commercial: The Foxwood's Casino jingle. "Take a chance, make it happen/roll the dice, fingers snapping/Spin the wheel, round and round we go-o/life is short, life is sweet/grab yourself a front-row seat/and let's meet, and have a ba-all/at the wonder of it all" and then the background people chant, "Meet me at FOXwoods."

Scary, the things we remember, but I loved that jingle, and I was sad when they changed it. I would pick that to sing in a karaoke bar for sure.

And then I realized: there's one casino-baseball connection that isn't so horrible.

Kind of tacky, and really not something you want to associate with baseball.

But I think I'd rather have a casino and baseball than no baseball at all.