On a night drenched in honey-gold sunset at Fenway Park, a familiar figure crossed the warning track, in a white jersey with a scarlet number 5 on the back.
Am I being manipulated as a fan, for whatever reason? I guess. Is the whole thing a little awkward, like seeing an ex while out somewhere, and making polite conversation even as you remember how bitterly things ended? Sure.
And honestly, I thought I was over it. I really thought I was over the schmaltz of welcoming Nomar back, when trading him was what led to the championship in 2004.
The thing that made the whole Nomar situation so painful was the lack of closure. The last time we saw him, he was walking out of the clubhouse in Minnesota in that white dress shirt. The next time, he was in an Oakland uniform, and by then it was all water under the bridge. The fans of Fenway never had a chance to know they were embracing Nomar for the last time. We can try to re-create that moment, and have in the years since, but it won't ever be quite the same.
And it wasn't just Nomar, it was Trot, it was Wake and Tek, it was all those guys of approx. 2003 - 2004 back together again on the field. We'll never go through what we went through with those players again, and I suspect those faces will always have direct access to my heartstrings. And I guess tonight stirred all that up. Which was probably the idea. Sigh.
Dustin Pedroia continues to fling himself around the field like his ass is on fire. And like his teammates' asses are on fire, and he's launching himself over there to single-handedly save the day. He's just a ball of furious, relentless energy, and I absolutely adore him.
John Lackey was brilliant tonight, surrendering just one run against his former team.
David Ortiz hit an opposite-field home run that was greeted with an audible gasp from the crowd, followed by a thundering standing ovation.
Daniel Bard was FILTHY.
Adrian Beltre hit a bomba gigante to dead center, his second homer in three nights and made a nifty play at third. Scooter made another nice pick at short.
Also, vintage Papelbon was in the house tonight.
I really, really hope May is going to be "The Red Sox Make Us All Look Like Assholes for Ever Worrying" Month.