Me: (After watching the White Sox' closer have a shaky ninth, but earn the save) So are people in Chicago going to be calling talk radio bitching about how this guy gave up hits?
My Dad: No. They won.
Me: But...ok, so it's not like Boston, then.
My Dad: No place is like Boston.
During the pre-game show before tonight's Devil Rays game, NESN did a nice little segment about Wade Boggs in which they interviewed Boggs about his time with Boston, and also other old timers such as The Eck on Boggs. They also showed a number of clips of him hitting and provided some good analysis on his playing style and strengths.
"Fenway Park was made for me," Boggs said, speaking about all his wall-balls.
He also had an eminently rational response to (I guess) the Boston contention that he didn't drive in enough runs - as a leadoff hitter, he estimated he came to the plate about two-thirds of the time with no one on base.
"It's kind of hard to drive yourself in 158 times," he said. His manner in speaking about it was not nasty, just matter-of-fact. "I don't think anyone's ever hit 158 home runs either."
It might be easy just reading the words to think Boggs said that with a chip on his shoulder. But, really, watching him actually speak the words, he was amiable. He smiled.
I am of two minds about Wade Boggs.
One mind is my mind at age seven through eleven, when I used to go to the park, and it seemed like every time I went to the park, Wade Boggs would get a hit. I distinctly and visually remember a Wade Boggs home run in the netting above the Monster, with the Moose Head sign behind it. I also remember the vague but solid sense that Boggs was a good third baseman in the field, as well, though I have no specific memory about that part. I also liked his mustache.
The other mind is the mind of a twenty-three through twenty-five year old, one with access to the Internet and the media and everyone's opinions and gossip about this player, bitterness about his ensuing stint with the Yankees, all the Access Hollywood! stories about chicken and infidelity.
And, of course, the repeated dusting-off of the film clip in which Wade Boggs cries in the dugout apres Buckner.
In fact, until I watched those old highlights tonight, the second had all but erased the first.
In the recent past, when asked who my favorite players were as a child, I'd always answer, truthfully, Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, and Dewey Evans. But then, at least with the first two, I'd be quick to add some sort of equivocation about having been a little kid, or about confining my affection for them only to the field of play, or of having not known a thing about baseball at the time. Essentially, I'd answer truthfully, then apologize for it.
But things are coming out in the wash, aren't they. Roger Clemens is all but solidified as one of the greatest pitchers the world has ever seen, and I got to see him, as that naive little girl, in his youth. Wade Boggs has been elected to the Hall of Fame and recognized as one of the game's great third basemen.
Maybe I knew more as a kid than I give myself credit for. In fact, maybe anyone not constantly bombarded by media spin, hype and messages in this town sees baseball more clearly. That's what I'm thinking now after watching the special on Boggs.
I'm not going to give those apologies anymore.