The Wackiest Bunch of Barnstormers
"Kazmir ejected while pitching a no-hitter? His hapless replacement immediately shelled for two nodoubter home runs to give the Sox a postseason berth? This team cursed? You have to be kidding."--commenter James
The wackiest bunch of barnstormers in 21st century baseball, the renegade Red Sox last night played their way into the postseason promised land amid the adulation of a traveling jamboree of fans, none more striking than a flock of bearded, white-robed disciples. --Globe
This morning a soft rain is hushing over Eastern Massachusetts, the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne. The Red Sox dodged the raindrops just in time.
Rain is my favorite weather. It makes me contemplative, suddenly aware of walls around me, a roof over my head; somehow, rain outside the window makes me feel more snug and secure where I am.
Today I am thinking of those twenty-five men with so much love. I'm thinking of Pedro and his little friend; Johnny Damon saying "um" every fifth word, Billy slowly chewing his cud by the baseline; how Curt completely subsumed Pedro in a bear hug yesterday and how ridiculous it looked; David and Manny smiling and pointing to each other; and especially Orlando Cabrera simply pointing to the sky.
Orlando Cabrera has never--I repeat, never--been on a post-season qualifier. If it weren't for the hand of fate plucking him up out of Montreal mid-season, he might never have been, either.
Seriously. Think about it. If the Red Sox had not traded away Nomar Garciaparra--and really, what were those odds?--Orlando Cabrera might never have seen October baseball. Not even once.
How do you even keep playing in those circumstances?
No wonder Cabrera's been grinning like an idiot, not to mention gunning down runners left and right in the infield like a man possessed--this, this right now, no World Series, not even a single pitch thrown in a post-season showdown, just this feeling of qualifying, of being on a worthy and winning team, must be a miracle for him.
And what about Bronson? Mr. Cornrowyo has been a solid starter for a high-profile team in his first year away from a bullpen of some sort since some disastrous outings in Pittsburgh. I wish I could be inside his li'l braided skull for even a second to know what that feeling is like.
Or Kevin Youkilis. Screw being featured (as is endlessly brought up) in Moneyball. Ever since his home run to announce himself in Toronto wayyyy back in the misty days of June, Youkilis has been on the bench, off the bench, on the bench, off the bench, on the bench, off the bench, hurt, on the bench, off the bench, on the bench. Youkilis has been on the express shuttle back and forth from Pawtucket probably more times than you or I would like to imagine. And yet just to be around this team, to be a part of this clubhouse, just to get a single at-bat every once in a while...
Think of the way these guys have battled back from injury, played through pain, gritted their teeth through grief and frustration and loneliness perhaps not worse, but quite unlike anything you or I will ever experience, just for the privilege of walking out onto the Fenway grass and playing ball and letting us live vicariously.
This team cursed? Not on your life. They've sweated and persevered and earned this season, righting what seemed a doomed ship time after time.
How can you not believe?