Archive for the ‘Boston Red Sox’ Category


I was a kid. A 13 year old entering into some of the most confusing years of my life. Arm issues left me incapable of playing sports and a crippling shyness left my unable to do much else. At 43 it is weird to look back at 13 and say I was lost in the world. I had barely taken any steps at all in this world at 13, but somehow, that is what I felt. Lost. Confused. Lonely.

Then came the Boys of Summer…Mookie, Keith, Darryl, Doc and Nails. Ray, Jesse and, of course, Gary “The Kid” Carter. However, more importantly than all of them, there was my Mom…but I’ll come back to her in a minute.

As the Cubs and Indians take the field for Game 1 of the World Series, I’ll be quietly marking a very special day for me. A day that I think about every year at this time, especially, but also a day that I think about year round. For those that know me well enough, they know it is a sacred day for me.

It has been 30 years since a ball hit by Mookie Wilson rolled through the legs of Bill Buckner, allowing Ray Knight to score and giving the Mets one of the most improbable wins in World Series history. It’s a game known simply as Game Six to Mets fan and every year, when October 25 shows up on my calendar, I pause to reflect on the impact it had on my life.

While it would be my dad that would teach me about the nuances of baseball and it’s history, my passion for the game came from my mom. She was the one that turned on the radio in the car just in time to hear Shea Stadium in bedlam just after Darryl Strawberry hit a home run against Bob Knepper and the Astros during the NLCS. It was my mom who would come running out of the house, yelling and screaming, later that day to drag us in the see the Mets celebrating after Lenny Dykstra hit a two run home run to give the Mets a walk-off home run. It was my mom who still insisted that we watch game three of the World Series from the very beginning, despite the Mets being behind two games to none and in Boston, and boy did she cheer when Nails led off that game with a homer.

When Dave Henderson hit that home run to put the Mets behind in the 10th inning of Game Six, my heart absolutely sunk. When another run crossed, I knew I didn’t know much about baseball at the time, but I knew that was not good. When Wally and Hernandez made their outs, I think it was just my mom and I left watching in the living room. I sat in the corner of the couch, with my fist over my heart. I could feel it beating quickly and I could feel my palms sweating. However, at this point, a calmness had washed over me. Sometime while my first childhood hero, Gary Carter stood at the plate, I got a sense that I just knew the Mets were going to win. I am sure there are millions of fans in Boston that felt they needed the Red Sox to win, but I knew I needed the Mets to win and I knew they were going to win. Maybe it was ignorance of the game or maybe it was just the Mets fan waking up inside of me, but I had no doubt the were going to win. And, certainly, the Kid wasn’t going to make the last out.

And when that tricky little roller down the first base line went past the bag and got by Buckner, I sat quietly still with my fist still over my heart thanking God for this miracle. My mom, on the other hand, literally was standing on the other end of the couch, jumping and dancing and yelling.

To most, it is simply a baseball game. To older Mets fans, it was the second greatest thing to happen to this team. To most of us post-1969 Mets fans, it is still the single greatest moment to ever occur in a baseball game. To me, it was a moment that changed my life forever.

It is a moment that cemented my love of baseball and the Mets. Other moments earlier in the playoffs were the sparks, but that moment was what locked it in. The whole course of my life was tied to that crazy bouncing ball. If the Mets lost that game, the heartbreak likely snuffs out the sparks of the earlier moments and I don’t fall in love with baseball. If I don’t fall in love with baseball, I am left still looking for my passion. If I don’t have my passion, I don’t become inspired to write. I don’t write and I never find my confidence and I don’t find a sword to battle my shyness. High school becomes more difficult and lord knows where I end up in college, but I doubt it would have been York college, and even if it was York College, I likely drop out after a semester because I never find my voice to continue to battle the self-doubt that gnaws at me constantly. Without York College then I have almost nothing that I have now…Andrea, my two boys, my job, my life as I know it.

Without that rally 30 years ago, there is no doubt I become a different person. One that is more skeptical and less full of hope. I am an eternal optimist in all aspects of life as a result of that night, believing that miracles can and do happen every day. I have wonderful memories of great friends and moments from the days when I worked for the Orioles and Mets. I have a NLCS Championship ring. I have a completed first draft of a novel based on my love for this game. I have Andrea and the boys and a job I like. Without Gary Carter, Mookie Wilson and my mom dancing on the end of the couch, my life would be very different than it is now. And while there are so many other moments that steered me to this moment, it was Mookie Wilson’s ground ball that put me on the road.

So, on Tuesday, while I’ll be disappointed that it isn’t my Mets playing in game one, I’ll frequently remember how Game Six forever changed and I’ll make sure to say a prayer of Thanksgiving for all the blessings in my life the began somewhere behind the bag at Shea Stadium


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by Sean Lilly

I have a friend (we’ll call him Adam) who often gets premium tickets to Red Sox games, and he loves to tell me about them. I am a Mets’ fan, but I’ve lived in Massachusetts long enough to know the sublime pleasure of sitting in the stands at Fenway of a summer’s afternoon or evening. So I suppose the idea behind the calls was to make me jealous.

Red Sox TicketsIn fact, it did bother me that Adam was there, but not because I wished to be there in his place. What did gall me about Adam’s presence was that he has known for roughly forty-five minutes that the Red Sox were a baseball team that plays in Boston. As friends around him became excited about the Red Sox, as he observed the important business contacts he could cultivate by being a “fan”, as he saw how being a Red Sox fan was like being the new it girl, he suddenly became an avid Red Sox national. In and of itself, none of this was enough to rankle me. What burned me was the thought of who else might’ve had Adam’s seat.

All I could think of with each of Adam’s taunts was of some old-timer from the South End or maybe East Boston. Someone for whom being a lifelong Red Sox fan was a profound undertaking because “lifelong” meant upwards of eight decades. Someone who remembered Ted Williams’swing as more than just archival footage. This guy had been at Anzio and the one thought that kept him going as he clung to the ground next to his buddies as the shells exploded around him was the thought of getting home and taking his best gal (who would go on to be his wife of over 40 years until she passed on) to see the Sox from the bleachers some summer Saturday. What kept him going now was the idea of sitting with his son and his granddaughter at Fenway once or twice a season. He had seen a depression, a world war, the civil rights movement, and 9/11, and all he still longed to see his was beloved Old Towne Team finally win that ring that eluded them for literally his entire life. Then finally there was that magical night in the den of the house he and his wife had bought on the South Shore back in the fifties, his son by his side, his granddaughter asleep in his lap, when he saw Foulke underhand it to first for that final out that had been so long in coming. He clasped his son’s hand and hugged his granddaughter close to him and tried to fight back the tears as he thought of his wife, his buddies back at Anzio, all the people in his life who were gone but he had this, he had his family and this house and his beloved Red Sox, and look at what he had lived to see.

This guy– in my head– could not go to a Red Sox game because Adam had his ticket. This son of the city, this solid family man, this patriot who had given so much to his country, couldn’t go see the team he had held close to his heart for an age because this baseball fashionista had clients to impress.

It infuriated me. Was there at long last really no justice in this world? Did God not in fact keep the score I always imagined he had? How could the forces that set the stars in the heavens really look at Adam sneering into his Blackberry at me and that marvelous old gentleman sitting in his den and be okay with this? How could this be let to pass? How could this be right?

Obviously, one of the morals of this story is how much more interesting your life can be when you have an overwrought imagination. But the other lesson is this: not everybody who goes to a Major League baseball game deserves to go.

That’s right, you read that correctly. Deserves. When you’ve been watching baseball as long as I have, you tend to think that not everyone has earned their place in the stands as you have. See, to be allowed to go to a baseball game, you need to be qualified. We have to know how much of a real baseball purist and lifer that you are. There has to be a way to determine that you’ll truly appreciate and understand what you’ll see. Obviously such exacting standards are not expected of everybody. Anyone who is still just learning the game—children, European immigrants, wives and husbands who were not raised on baseball and are trying to figure out a way to put up with you from mid-February through October—are exempt from such testing. But if you’re going to call yourself a lifelong fan, if you’re going to really make a serious go at being with baseball, if you’re going to be so presumptuous as to take a seat away from the likes of Jimmy O’Donnell (the octogenarian hero of Anzio from before; yes, I gave him a name), you need to meet certain standards. Standards that I, as the quintessential baseball purist and lifer, am only to happy to articulate. So before you even think of logging on to Stub Hub, submit yourself to the following test—and you’re darned right there are correct answers.

1. Pick a year from your favorite team’s past (at least five years ago) in which they finished with a losing record and out of the pennant race. Name at least ten players from that team.

Real baseball fans make absolutely ideal husbands and wives. We actually started training for marriage the day we became fans. Long before we got married, we were well-practiced in some of the key ingredients to a successful marriage: being supportive despite adversity, loving someone even if they bring you to medication-worthy levels of exasperation, patience, loyalty, staying with someone through good times and bad, for richer or poorer, till death, do you part, because that’s your very own someone, always has been, and always will be. Marriage is of course by far the more important commitment but in terms of longevity, being a baseball fan is an entirely comparable one. In either case, the one you choose is the one you stick with for life (something philanderers don’t understand) even if things get tough sometimes (something Yankees’ fans do not understand). If you became a Red Sox fan after 2004, a Phillies fan last year, or suddenly realized you were a die-hard Dodgers’ fan this year, you need to realize it wasn’t always like this. It’s easy to wear your cap and brag about your league-leading hitters and pitchers this year, but do you remember what it was like when everyone was cackling at how lousy they were? What if that should happen again next year, five years, ten years from now? Will your cap still be on your head then? If the answer to that is anything other “yes”, Jimmy O’Donnell and I better not see you in our seats.

And for the record: Charlie Puleo, Craig Swan, Neil Allen, Doug Flynn, Tom Veryzer, Hubie Brooks, Wally Backman, Dave Kingman, Ron Hodges, George Foster, and Rusty Staub were all members of the 1982 Mets, a team that went 65-97.

2. It is the 8th inning and the score is tied. The first man up for your team reaches base. The next batter isn’t necessarily a weak hitter, but he’s certainly not one of your big run producers. He squares up to bunt on the first pitch taps the ball gently between home and the mound. The catcher throws out the batter at first, but the runner moves up to second. Do you cheer?

I only ask this because there was an instance a number of years ago in which a hitter in Montreal was booed for doing this. It’s called a sacrifice bunt. It may look like the easiest of outs, but if it’s done correctly it’s a great way to move a runner up into scoring position, so that a base hit can bring home a run. If all you need is one run, say to break a late-inning tie or to score the winning run, it’s can be absolutely…

Who am I kidding? If your answer to the initial question was anything other than “yes”, you can’t possibly have the faintest clue as to what “scoring position” or “the winning run” is. And therefore you to do not get Jimmy O’Donnell’s ticket.

3. Is the designated hitter an abomination before the Lord?

If your answer to this is anything other than yes, go find yourself a cricket game. Baseball isn’t for you. That’s because if you’re all right with the designated hitter, you’re all right with a game that looks remarkably like baseball, but isn’t actually baseball. See, in baseball everyone who hits also fields and everyone who fields also hits. You don’t get to skip out of one of those responsibilities because you’re really bad at it. In baseball, the pitcher hits. Not like that quasi-baseball they play in the American League because a few decades ago owners were stupid enough to think everyone got this next question wrong.

4. Pitchers duels or slugfests?

God, this is so boring! No one is hitting any home runs! There’s no scoring! Why doesn’t somebody do something?

Someone is doing something. Two someones are doing something and it’s actually a mesmerizing work of art. You just don’t get it.

If you like suspense thrillers, you do get it. Because you’d probably love pitcher’s duels. The same knife-edge tension, the same can’t-bear-to-watch anxiety about one little mistake meaning the end, the same fascination about what might happen next is at work. And if you have even the first idea of how hard it is to pitch a shutout, even just a complete game, you know what a wonder it is to see not one but two pitchers throwing zeros at each other, daring each other with each scoreless inning to top that, to keep up with me, to weave as flawless a work of art as I am because if you can’t, you lose today.

If you can’t appreciate that, stand to one side and leave baseball to the grownups.

5. The manager is a moron. Explain.

This one of the most treasured complaints of both the novice and experienced fan. Everyone knows better than the manager. Sometimes it’s actually true. Sometimes it’s not. If you say “the manager is a moron” at the game, that’s fine. You may be right. That’s not what really matters though. For the purposes of getting Jimmy O’Donnell’s ticket, you just need to say why the manager is a moron. Tell me. Is it a bad idea for him to be sending a left-handed hitter up as a pinch-hitter with a lefty on the mound? With one out and a speedster on first and the team down a run, is the situation just crying out for a steal attempt? Is it too early to be bringing the infield in? Can you not fathom why this starting pitcher is still in there when he’s clearly struggling and you’ve got a reliever in the bullpen just standing around waiting to come in? Does it baffle you that this guy refuses to think about putting on a squeeze play even once?

Did you go cross-eyed just now? Then you’re not allowed to say the manager is a moron. I know you’ve heard other people call this manager a moron. You may even be hearing other people call him a moron right now. They’re not a good reason for you to do the same. You need to come up with good reasons to do the same all by yourself. If you can’t and you say the manager is a moron anyway, that seat you’re in doesn’t belong to you.

So there you have it. If you can handle those five simple questions, Jimmy and I would be proud to have you sit between us. If you can’t, we’d still love to see you there. We absolutely love teaching people about baseball. If you’re not interested in learning, you’re still most welcome—we realize you’re only there because you love at least one of us and we appreciate you being supportive. You can still expect to not get a word in edgewise for the next three hours or so, but we do appreciate you.

Everyone else? I suppose you can remain—so long as you remain silent. If you talk, you’ll probably try to tell us what a die-hard fan you are. You’ll probably try to demonstrate your baseball expertise. You’ll probably try to impress just about everyone around us in these fabulous seats you snagged.

Jimmy O’Donnell and I don’t care. And neither do the security personnel that in my world will now escort you out of the park so that someone who deserves your seat can have it.

Sean Lilly went to his first baseball game on July 4, 1980 at Shea Stadium and has been driving everyone he knows bonkers with the Mets ever since. After writing and performing with Committee for Creative Enactments as an undergrad at Boston College,  he worked as a sketch comedy performer and stand-up comic and now teaches elementary school (he’s as surprised as you).  He currently lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts with his with his wife Kelly and they are expecting their first child in October.  He has promised his father-in-law that he will raise his child a Red Sox fan, but has duly warned him that we all tend to follow our fathers in these matters no matter what.

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YankeesOkay, now that I have spent my weekend as a Yankee fan and my appetite is finally coming back, let’s talk a little bit about the Yankees.

My grandfather was a Brooklyn Dodger fan.  My father was a Brooklyn Dodger fan.  I grew up as a Mets fan.  I worked for the Baltimore Orioles in 1996 when they lost to the Yankees.  I worked for the New York Mets in 2000 when they lost to the Yankees.  So, let me not mince words…I hate the Yankees.  It’s in my genes.  It’s in my broken baseball heart.  It’s in every baseball breath I breathe.  I hate the Yankees.  Navy blue pinstrips chaffe my eyeballs.  John Sterling’s voice makes nails on a chalk board sound like Mozart.  Derek Jeter at the plate gives me hives.  And thank God Paul O’Neil retired.

I hate them.  Go ahead, all you Yankee fans, and say it: “You are just jealous.”  You are absolutely right.  The Yankees are an outstanding team and you cannot argue the numbers.  They have won 26 World Championships.  26!  That’s nine more Championships than seasons the Marlins and Rockies have existed…14 more than seasons the Diamondbacks and Devil Rays have existed  (although, it is nice to know the Yankees have lost the World Series to both the Marlins and Diamondbacks since they last won it).  That is one out of every four World Series every played.  That’s 26 more Championships than the Cubs have won since the Yankees came into existence.

And the numbers just get worse from there.  There have only been 95 World Series played since the New York Highlanders became the Yankees in 1913, meaning that the Yankees have won 28% of those.  On top of that, they have won 38 American League Championships meaning that they have played in more than a third of all World Series ever played.

So, Yankee fans, I am a well educated baseball fan and I know that the Yankees are a great team.  And yes, I am jealous of that.  Yes, I wish the Mets had 26 World Championships under their belt.  Yes, I wish that the Brooklyn Dodgers had won more series against the Yankees and been given more of a reason to stay in Brooklyn and not break my father’s heart (and, I guess I would be a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and never know the Mets).  Yes, I wish that my 2000 National League Championship ring was a 2000 World Championship ring.

However, I don’t wish I was a Yankees fans…Never have.  Never will.  If I were a Yankees fan, I would sleep more hours in a night and live the easy baseball life…but, I would be, well, not a Mets fan.

Now that I have paid the Yankees the respect they deserve, let me take the gloves off, like Jeffrey Maier should have in 1996. I have friends that are Yankee fans, and I respect them and their misguided opinions.  But I still think the Yankees suck.  And so do their fans.  Okay, not all their fans and not at a personal level.  I just think how they go about being a Yankee fan sucks.  There are plenty of Yankee fans out there that followed that team through the 80’s and early 90’s.  They wear their Yankee hats during the spring and summer and don’t just dust them off in October and don’t wear them as fashion accessories.

It’s the millions of new Yankee “fans” that mysteriously appear every October that drive me nuts (although not so much of late).  They don’t follow the team day in and day out throughout the season.  They barely are aware that spring training has started and probably don’t even know where the Yankees hold their spring camp.

To weed out these fans, I have what I call the “Manager Test”.  I simply ask an alleged fan who managed the team before Joe Torre.  If they manage to get Buck Showalter correct, I then asked them who managed the team before them.  That is usually a real Stumper (only true Yankee fans got that reference) and the real fans shake out.

Granted, every team has fans like this when their team is doing well.  It’s just that with the Yankees, it is 10 fold and, well, they are more obnoxious and sort of ugly.

Babe Ruth’s curse is not limited to the Red Sox and really isn’t a curse at all.  The Bambino’s “curse” is spread thickly throughout the rest of baseball like George Brett’s pine tar. It’s actually a simple explanation.  In 1918, the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, a team that had never finished higher than fourth place and who took the back seat to the New York Giants.  Ruth went on to dominate his era like no other player ever had.  He put the Yankees on the baseball map.  He was exciting to watch and fans wanted to come out and see him.  They filled the stadium and the money machine started rolling and snowballing and so did the Championships.  With that money the Yankees could build Yankee Stadium, scout better and higher the best personnel out there.  And the rest of baseball can do nothing else but look up at them…And that is Babe Ruth curse or legacy.

The Red Sox probably haven’t even paid the biggest price for the curse.  You might be able to make the case that the fans of the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers paid the biggest price.  Yeah, a lot of factors lead to the Dodgers leaving town, most importantly, their inability to pay for a new stadium on their own.  Perhaps, if Ruth never went to the Yankees, maybe the Dodgers and Giants win more championships and stay in New York.  We will never know, but it’s my opinion that their fans have paid the biggest price.

However, perhaps without the Yankees, baseball never becomes as big as it did.  Maybe football jumps out ahead, sooner.  Maybe basketball or hockey becomes the national pastime.  I can’t downplay the benefit of the Yankees to baseball, but they also hurt baseball dramatically in the small markets.

Maybe I am just a bitter Mets fan.  Maybe, I just hate that the Yankees aren’t stuck at 25 championships (meaning that the Mets would have won in 2000).  Maybe, I wish the Orioles had beaten them in 1996.  Maybe I wish the Yankees had moved to Taiwan.

However, my point is, Yankee fans and media outlets need to know that baseball does not equal the Yankees and the Yankees do not equal baseball.  We don’t need constant updates on A-Rod.  We would like to see news on our teams, even when the Yankees are playing the Red Sox.  Our teams’ histories matters, also.

And, boy, was the 2004 ALCS great, or what!

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by Tom Keenan

Yankee StadiumWhen I check baseball scores, the first thing I check is the Mets score (if I am not already watching it) to see if they are winning/won. I then check to see if the Phillies are losing/lost. And then I check to see if the Yankees are losing/lost. Then I may check the scores of some of the other National League East teams (in the past, the Braves would have been the second score I checked). Sometimes, I even check to see how the other American League East teams are doing, specifically, the Red Sox. I feel a certain connection with the Red Sox…I think it’s the whole “an enemy of my enemy is my friend” thing. My ideal day in baseball would see the Mets winning big, preferably over the Phillies, the Phillies losing, the Yankees losing, preferably to the Red Sox, every other team in the NL East losing (although, I could be happy for the poor Nationals if they got a win from time to time, as long as it isn’t against the Mets) and the rest of the AL East wins.

This weekend, however, is bizzarro weekend. The Mets head up to Fenway to play the Red Sox and the Phillies head into New York to play the Yankees (something seems odd about the Phillies playing in the new Yankee Stadium before the Mets). Obviously, I have no problem picking sides with the Mets/Red Sox. However, on first glance, what in Jeter’s (I’m starting to feel a little woozy) name do I do with Yankees/Phillies?

Well, for me, it’s simple…LET’S GO YANKEES…(damn, I just vomited a bit on my keyboard).

For many Mets fans, it is not that simple. Some could justify that it is early in the season and that it won’t be too bad if the Phillies swept the Yankees. The Mets can make up any ground they lose. No big deal. Plus, what complicates the matter is that the Yankees have a nine game winning streak heading into this series. For most Mets fans, any Yankee winning streak beyond two consecutive hits is unacceptable. The thought of a twelve game winning streak…well, that is just evil visiting the earth.

The more conservative among us would pull for a split of the first two games and a rain-out on Sunday. The status quo is preserved and everyone goes home happy. Honestly, not a bad thought, but wins and losses is all that matters when it comes to deciding who goes to the playoffs. The Mets missed the playoffs in 2007 by one game. In 2008, they missed it by three games. The Yankees winning, in terms of the big picture, just doesn’t matter.

Mets fans know that the Yankees are the sports news of New York. When they win, it’s the only thing that matters to the media. When they lose, it’s the only thing that matters to the media. When A-Rod goes to the bathroom, it’s the only thing that matters to the media. It is something all Mets fans have learned to expect. It’s just the way it. So, in the big picture, a Yankees win can be no different than a Yankees loss.

That said, here is what I hope happens this weekend…I hope that on Friday, the starting pitchers trade perfect games through nine innings, then, in the top of the tenth, the Phillies score 12 runs against Mariano Rivera. In the bottom of the 10th, the Yankees score nine runs against an assortment of Phillies relievers, before Lidge gives up a game winning grand slam. In game two, I hope to see each team scoring in every inning and then, in the 7th, Rollins collides with Jeter on the basepaths, forcing season inning injuries to each other’s pinky toes. Yankees eventually win in 33 inning. In the third game, Sabathia gets hammered for 5 runs in the first before the umpires discover that the balls are being doctored with some clear sticky liquid. Upon further inspection, they discover a mostly eaten glazed doughnut under Sybathia’s hat and he is promptly ejected. The Phillies proceed to get the go-ahead run taken off the board after Howard misses third base after hitting a home run (I need to even things out a bit from the Mets side). The Yankees go on to win.

So, officially, I am a Yankee fan…and I need some tips. I already feel a certain sense of entitlement coming over me…it’s a wonderful feeling, but how long do I have to wait before I start feeling like I am a better person than fans of all other teams? When do I start feeling pompous? Is it okay to go ahead and assume that every player wants to be a Yankee? Should I just pretend to only be able to name Mattingly when someone asks me to name any Yankee that played for them between Reggie and Pauly or will knowledge of anything that happened between Torre and the last championship before him automatically disappear? When can I stop caring about any other baseball team’s history?

Okay, yeah, I am bitter when it comes to the Yankees and Mets, and I apologize to any of my friends or readers who are Yankee fans…You can’t help it if you inherited a faulty gene from your parents. It’s just that we have been through so much since 1986, and being forced to root for the Yankees is just another blow…Well, at least I can take solace in the fact that the Yankees are forced to route for the Mets for the weekend.

Anyway, I’ll be writing more about this over the weekend as these two series go on. For now, I need to go take a hot shower…I feel so cold and nauseas.

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