Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Red Sox are 35-15. They have an 11 1/2 game lead over the second place team in the American League East. As I write this, Josh Beckett is on the mound. If the Hose win and he gets credit for the W, Josh'll be 8-0. And it's still May.

This is the best start in Red Sox history. There's some kind of magic being perpetrated on the manicured lawns on which these boys are playing. Reminds me of 1986, the year my father died. We buried him on opening day of the Red Sox season. Sox played Detroit. Bruce Hurst was the starting pitcher for the Sox, who lost that first game. But went on to win the pennant.

That was a magical year, and Dad just missed it. Or maybe he didn't. Maybe he was there, sitting in the skybox seats. The only one up there not fingering the strings of a harp.

The Sox are fun to watch this spring. Take last night for example. Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who has a hit streak going ( Not just any streak; he gets two or three hits a game! ) hit an inside the park homerun.

That's a magic trick rarely performed in big league parks like Fenway. Youkilis hit a line drive to straight center. It bounced off the fence. ( Off the fence? Yes, Off the Fence. Attach whatever meaning you will to that, dear reader ) )

The Cleveland outfielders looked like city slickers chasing a headless chicken in a barnyard. By the time they caught up with the ball, Kevin was rounding third, heading for home.

How can you not love a game in which the ultimate reward is going back to the place where you started - home.

Youkilis crossed the plate standing up. Didn't even need to slide. Youkilis of all players, notching an inside the park homerun on the bed post of his career. He has a busload of talent, speed not being among the skills on his resume. But he did it.

Most homeruns are hit by guys who stand at the plate and watch the ball's parabolic flight. Like golfers standing next to the broken tee. They watch as the ball leaves the park. Then they trot slowly around those bases, heading slowly for home.

Youkilis, the slow guy - he ran!

Giving the homerun the meaning it deserves.

It was magical. My father? The guy who brought me to my first Red Sox game back in the 1950s? The guy who introduced me to that green cathedral in which I have worshipped so many times.

A quiet man, a typical Irishman, he would have had a difficult time showing what he felt about what this Jewish guy ( Name of Kevin ) did with his turn at the plate.

Then again, maybe not. Maybe he would have done what he did back in 1967. I was 20 and a month or so from being shipped off to Lackland Air Force Base for basic training. The Tet Offensive ( An inside the park homerun hit by an AA farm team called the Viet Cong ) was coming soon. Dad and I were watching the Sox on TV. This was long before NESN. Televised Sox games were as rare as Red Sox wins in previous years. A Sox game on TV was an event ( A word that has lost all meaning, now that the weathermen are calling " drizzle " an event. )

The Sox won the game they had to. They were on their way to the World Series. Dad sprung from his perch on the couch and started waving his arms. Started yelling, " They did it. They DID it!!! "

It was the happiest, and most animated I'd ever seen him. A close second was the day I got married, ten years later.

Youkilis hitting that inside the park homer? Damn! He woulda loved that. And I have a feeling he'd be happy with the way this season is going. And might go.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. I'll be looking for you when I watch the next Sox game. Looking up I'll be, at those skybox seats where you'll be. Sitting next to the guys with the harps.


Terrance Collins said...

I'm happy you didn't put this nice piece into a rap. As an aside, it makes me a little sad that I have given up baseball. Do admit I take a quick glance daily at the AL East standings, and only the top, to see if my once beloved team is still there....but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

Able 66 said...

I have a picture on my wall of the 1957 Euclid Braves from Cleveland. My Dad was a coach and my two older brothers played. I was 8 years old and the bat boy. It's funny how sports plays such a big role in growing up. To this day I will always play with team spirit and the will to win. Ask old Mr. Able Comm. himself. My Dad has been gone for 12 years now but I have passed his message of teamwork through my son. Fred

Terrence said...

I was going to write " Youkilis rapped it to deep center, then hip hopped all the way homme. "

But thought better of it.

And c'mon. Watch a few games. The Sox are playing the Yankees this weekend ( 8 pm ESPN Sunday ). The YAnks lost last night and are now 14 1/2 games out. And Clemens, who's getting a million bucks a start, isn't starting this weekend. And the rumor is Torre's safe. Because Roger signed with a clause in his contract. Torre must be there if I'm there.

How can you not want to invest at least some interest in the epic poem, the long novel, whatever...

That is the 6 1/2 month long major league season.