My Mum called from Asia last night… it’s funny, I forget how extreme the time difference is. I was referring to “the game yesterday” (Tuesday EDT) and Mum kept talking about how badly it went. It finally registered to my tired brain that, for her, it was “the game the day before yesterday.” I suspect we’re going to get a lot of this for the next couple of years.
After the customary and obligatory “How’s grandma and grandpa” updates, the conversation gravitated back towards the Sox. That is how I know the season has started for real. It hadn’t felt like it, really. I’m not all too enthusiastic about the two games taking place in Japan. It’s the season opening and the relocation disenfranchised the majority of the major league fans who are located primarily in America. Yes, Japan is an extension of the Red Sox Nation and Taiwan of the Pinstripes Nation, but what about the A’s?
The most dedicated fan in our family, really, is my mother. Imagine a small Asian woman in the 50’s, wearing a cooking apron, waving a huge long pair (2-foot!) of cooking chopsticks in the air wildy but pointing the general direction of a 40″ plasma tv screen, with fragrant cooking smog wafting out from the kitchen behind her, screaming insults blended into three languages, face so red you wonder when she’d start frothing in the mouth. Yep. My mama and the Sox.
And, boy, did that negativity and depression really seep through the telephone line last night. It was so thick I could have bottled up the syrup pouring from the earpiece. No Beckett, Dice-K still iffy, two young’ns still iffy, Schilling over with, Papelbon not sharp enough, Timlin problems, the pitching staff gone to heck in a handbasket, etc etc.
Indeed, the season has started.
During a drive home from the airport, Mum and I engaged in a rather lively discourse over Lowell. By this point, we knew he had a deal and was, well, pretty much a done deal for staying in Boston another three years.
A player like Lowell had a couple of fantastic years, especially once he was traded into Boston. One has to remember, though, that he had been considered by many as a “throw in” in the deal for Beckett. While a great gain it turned out to be, it hadn’t been Lowell’s reputation at the time. He doesn’t have a long streak of being the best of the best, as some of the “older” players like ARod, Schilling, which, while he is hot at the moment, make not make his as valuable in the free agent market as he’d like. Or as many of us like to think of him.
At this point and age, moving from team can be detrimental. He’s a valuable player at the moment, but he may not remain so for long. When how much of a career he has left, is anyone’s guess. For a player like him, a move can potentially lead to the difference between mediocracy and a homebase star. I thought of how staying in one city provides a player some stability. What I overlooked was how creating a home fan base can boost a player’s popularity and branding.
Compare the case of (*gulp*) Johnny Damon. He was a popular Red Sox player for the fans. He was a terrific player with a huge fan base. Looking past his betrayal to the fans, where is he now? With the Yankees, and not with as much fanfare, popularity, or playtime as he may have been able to secure if he had stayed on with the Red Sox, especially immediately after being a member of the core team of a World Series win.
A new team means being given a different role. I don’t mean role as in defense position. I mean a dynamic of being a newcomer in a completely different team that has a completely different style, pattern, and history. Lowell, Damon were key members of a core team that won the World Series. Imagine if the Red Sox were to bring in a new player to the team now. Even if this hypothetical he is replacing a major gap, he has to work with who and what are the status quos, Francona’s existing perspectives and biases of existing players, and just the face that most of the players have a strong bond already, as a well-oiled team that won. It would be the same for a player leaving this team for another.
tessa was right. Boston has been good to Lowell. And his decision to stay highlights his appreciation of that. To quote him on his interveiew: “I have financial security so I’d like to believe I’m not all about money. I feel like I’m more of a baseball player than a businessman. I kind of weighed where I felt comfortable, where I thought I could produce the best with the team that has a chance to win a world championship, and it was Boston. On top of that, we just won and I think I played with a set of teammates that are unparalleled and with a manager the same way and with a fan base that’s unbelievable.”
Welcome home, Lowell. It good to have you here.
… tomorrow. A post on Thanksgiving, homecoming, and giving.
Aside from life catching up, there simply has not been much Red Sox news that has interested me as of late. So I’ll return to sharing more inexplicable moments of this fan’s being a fan.
Recently, in an email from my father:
Do you know that the Yankees new manager, Joe Girardi, is a Northwestern graduate with the engineering degree. I don’t mind you cheer Yankees a little bit because of that.
An immediate email that my brother fired back in reply, so fast my computer is still in the process of opening the original message:
I mind if you cheer for the yankees. Please don’t.
The funny thing is my brother is never polite to me. “Please don’t”??? Either very out of character or desperate. Or both.
Really, this issue is a no brainer. I can’t believe my own father, who taught me to be a die hard fan, even broached the topic. Besides, if I remember my facts, he majored in imaginary engineering. The rest of us had to tough out the hardcore stuff. OK, yes, you’re right. It’s just another excuse to pile on.
However, having Loretta on second last year made watching the game fun, although more of the entertainment came from the family. Every single time I was home to watch a game, and every single time Loretta popped up on the tv screen, Dad would gleefully shout “LORETTA!!” or “NORTHWESTERN” and elbow me or aim a playful shoulder punch. Even if it meant several times each inning for all nine innings. Good thing I don’t live at home. Dad still can pack a punch and lose track of how much power he’s putting when he gets super fired up.
The playoffs have accentuated the different personalities in my family. Mum, the ever pessimist, has yelled at the entire Red Sox team on the tv all season long and gets discouraged from the slightest missed opportunity. Dad, the optimist, has been counting down on wins needed for the World Champions trophy pretty much since June. I am in the middle, a hoper who’s afraid to predict anything before it actually happen. My brother, just plain cheers.
JD Drew just made himself the most popular man in Boston. It’s ironic give how fans have been boo-ing him for so long. Which brings to mind of fan behaviour.
I’m as guilty of criticising players as any. For 7-8 figure salaries, these guys need to play at some minimum standard. But I can never understand loudly and actively booing a player at the stadium, especially at the player’s home turf.
Drew and Gagne has been getting that treatment from the Red Sox fans. I agree both of them have had disappointing seasons. I’m still uneasy when Gagne pitches because he has actually cost us games. I didn’t mind Drew not hitting as much since it’s just not taking opportunity to make offense and feels less costly.
Red Sox gains nothing from being boo-ed by its own fans in the stadium, no matter how annoying their players are. Ultimately, whether we approve or not of a coach’s or manager’s decision, we want our team to win, right?
Tonight. One last game to the ALCS. I’m excited that the team came from a 3-1 deficit. Now, it all comes down to one single game. Nerve-wrecking enough for me. I’m comforted that the last game is in Fenway. I’m bummed that I am not there. I wonder what’s in store for all of us…
I will say this. The Indians have been tough. They’ve forced the Sox to put their best game forward and didn’t let them get away with anything less. It has been a good match between two good teams. It’s made a good series and good baseball. I still expect the Red Sox to gun it and secure a win, but, thank you, Cleveland, for making this a great series to watch and to fret over.
Watching the Sox win at Camden Yards tonight was truly gratifying. I confess: my father planted a little seed of doubt in my mind when he commented that our family doesn’t have much luck in attending a winning game and we may be bad luck. I refused to believe that and wanted to watch another game to prove his theory incorrect. The Sox are on the top of the league! How can they not win just because a little fan like me is present?!?
We had to leave at the end of the 8th; I was to drop off a friend at the airport. Good thing, too, because we got stuck in traffic and barely made it. We stuck around long enough to watch Drew run in to break that 2 run tie that seemed to stick like gum on the bottom of your favourite shoes.
I jokingly told Mum if the Sox lost that lead in the last inning; it’s not going to be my fault!!