Thursday, September 29, 2011

The not so Joy of Sox

After the Red Sox won the World Series in 1918, their fans were prepared for an annual appearance in this great American classic.  However, shortly following that fabled season, "The Babe" was sold to the New York Yankees, and thus began the "Curse of the Bambino".  For the next 86 years, Red Sox nation had to endure watching other major league teams reach the promised land of a world champion while we collectively watched our boys of summer disappoint us sometime before a fourth win in the world series.  However, that all changed in the post season of 2004 when our team went on an 8 game winning streak and captured the world championship trophy with what seemed like relative ease in the end.  Life was good again for the Boston faithful, and who would have predicted, but that magic was repeated again in 2007.

For the young recruits to Red Sox nation, winning it all became a simple formula:  start the excitement with spring training, play the regular season to get to the playoffs, and expect to win it all in the postseason, right?  Well, for those of us who have enjoyed more than a handful of birthdays, the experience of those years from 1918 to 2004 prepared us for most anything that our beloved team could deal us, and allow me to recap.

After the 1918 campaign, the Red Sox would not make it back to the post season until the great Ted Williams led them in 1940's.  Unfortunately, there had been all those years of disappointment beforehand, and the hometown team faltered against the Cardinals.  The Sox met up with Cardinals again in 1967, the same year my passion for "the Sox" really began.  The Cardiac Kids pulled it out on the final day of the season when Rico Petrocelli recorded the final out against the Twins.  However, even with the triple crown winner, Carl Yaztremski, the Cardinals emerged victorious.  They ran into a pitcher by the name of Bob Gibson, end of story...another disappointment for Red Sox fans.  Then came 1975 and Carlton Fisk's homer, 1978 and the Bucky Dent homer, and then the 1986 series against the Mets and the Bill Buckner error.  Each of these events created an emotional high or a precipitous blow to the spirit of Red Sox fans.  How could this all happen?  It was all part of being a Red Sox fan.  In fact, this phenomenon is so well known, the folks in Hollywood made a movie about it..."Fever Pitch', and even that ending had to be changed because of the events of 2004.

Now, we have the 2011 Red Sox, and with them, we have had yet another season of heartache.  However, this time it's different.  The Sox "completed" an historic  meltdown, unlike any other team in history.  Why not?  They are the Red Sox, and they have been preparing us for generations.  In fact, my older brother quipped, "it kind of feels like the old days before 2004, and it's kind of nostalgic!"

Well, I'm not disappointed.  In fact, the team's demise has restored my faith that there are no guarantees in this life, except that games will be won and games will be lost.  However, for me, I was able to watch many of those games with my dad and talk about baseball, as if we were managing the team.  We'd ask each other questions, talk about different strategies, but that paled in comparison to just having time with my dad talking about the game and life.  Yes, the Red Sox may have disappointed their loyal followers, but they provided their fans with stories for a lifetime.  For that, there is joy in "this" Mudville tonight, and I, for one, look forward to another season talking about baseball and life with my dad.  Who couldn't find joy in that?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

65 and counting

For many people, 65 is a very important number.  It's the age that we become eligible for Medicare, and historically, many individuals face retirement.  However for some, the number 65 represents something far more significant, and in the case of my parents, it reflects the number of years since they committed themselves to a lifetime together.

After meeting in Boston during WWII, the two were married on September 7th, 1946, and what has transpired since has been legendary.  They have 8 children, 19 grandchildren, 1 great grandchild, over 40 nieces and nephews, and countless friends who have all been touched by their boundless love and generosity.

To my parents on this momentous anniversary, congratulations on achieving such a milestone.  Your family and friends have been richly blessed by the love you share for each other.  May God watch over you and keep you well.  We love you!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Proof there is a parallel universe

Recently, I was out for an early morning run and looked up at the last vestiges of the night sky in the west and the rising Sun in the east.  In spite of the effort spent getting my heart rate into my aerobic training zone, I often find that it is under these circumstances, that I do some of my most important thinking.  The pressures of life seem to melt away when one is distracted from it, even if it's just for awhile.  This particular morning was no different than any other day, but my thoughts had me thinking about the possibility of other life forms.  Could there be another group of individuals out there engaged in an exercise routine much like mine?

Years ago, I realized the benefits of regular exercise, but what I under appreciated was just how supportive doing that exercise with a group was to the consistency of training.  It was, and still is, far easier to get up each morning knowing that there is a group of equally "insane" individuals willing to brave the morning elements with you.  Of course, when you don't have such a connected group, then the motivation to get the exercise juices going comes down to pure self discipline.

Over the years, I have engaged in a variety of exercise routines, from running only, to running twice daily, and as my interest in triathlon grew, cross training with swimming and biking became an integral part of the schedule.  A typical week might go as follows:  swimming on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday;  running on Tuesday and Thursday; and a nice bike ride of Saturday morning.  More recently, however, the morning schedule was modified due to the lack of "water" for the morning swim, so spinning became a substitute.  Now, spinning is the Monday, Wednesday, Friday routine, with running on the alternate days.

What, you may ask, does all this mean?  Well, I have concrete evidence that, while I am engaging in my exercise program, I believe that there is another disciplined group of souls out there engaging in very similar activities at the very same time, proof positive that there is a parallel universe.  In fact, I am sure it exists because have seen them and have been included in their workouts, and they are just a great group of individuals.  However, there are some differences between the two worlds; after my workout I sit down to a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee, while I am willing to bet that my comrades are sipping a hot cup of Tim Horton's brew, and it tastes just fine, no matter where we are!