All week we've been recovering, trying to catch up on sleep and our day jobs and all the things we've just straight up neglected since postseason baseball began, lo, a month ago. Doesn't it seem like it took forever in a temporal sense, but also like there wasn't nearly enough baseball? Shouldn't Josh Beckett be warming up for something right now, and wouldn't we all brave the newly chilly weather to watch him throw one more game? Shouldn't Jason Varitek be strategizing with his binders while Mike Timlin strategizes with his parrot? Can't we play three more games and keep the World Series sweep at the same time?
No? The laws of physics, baseball, and Suffolk County prevent it? Damn. It's going to be a long cold winter. But we've got our love to keep us warm.*
And you know who we love right now? Yeah. Him. And everyone else.
How about two guys not on the World Series roster: Tim Wakefield and Julian Tavarez? Polar opposites, right? The journeyman and the elder statesman. The Red Bull-chugging rubber arm and the reliable starter with the crazy knuckleball. The guy who lets Manny pet him on the head and the guy who keeps Doug Mirabelli as a pet. In spite of their shaky moments, we wouldn't have had much of a season if these guys hadn't been regularly reliable and occasionally spectacular--think of Wake's slick eight-inning outing against Rockies 1.0, or Tavvy's gorgeous relief innings on September 12th. We're delighted the club's picked up the options on these two. Imagining the team without Wake breaks our heart. And Tavvy may just be trade bait, but if not, well, our two baby starters could probably use the backup.**
Speaking of baby starters, we really love Jon Lester right now. We hope he's kickin' back on a couch somewhere, working on his fantasy football team, enjoying the first days of a pain-free, laid-back, regular-guy offseason. He'll have fun shooting deer with Bucky and Becky, and do some running and some weights and whatever it is pitchers do to hone their control. And that's it. And that makes us every bit as happy as knowing he'll come back to a ring ceremony.
How great is it gonna be, when spring rolls around, to see the eight 2004 veterans doubling their bling and their fun? It'll only be topped when Pedroia struts up from the dugout. We loved that boy back in April when he was barely hitting his weight, and only that much because he's a midget. We used to call him the best Little League 2B ever, then JV, and finally a varsity letter man. Now, having proven that he's more talented than he is cute and gritty, our Petey will get a shiny new band of gold to symbolize his triumph. He'll immediately pick a fight with Youk about whose is bigger.
We love Bobby Kielty, too. It'll be good to see him back for the party, and sad that he won't be in a Sox uniform.
Do we really even need to note that we've been breaking into spontaneous "RE-sign LOW-ell" chants*** all week long? We didn't think so.
When we look back in a year or two, this Series, and this season, will seem like they went pretty smoothly--a first-place team for more than five months rolled to a dominant and decisive World Series victory, stalwart veterans and shiny rookies and all. But we watched more closely, and know better. We had Eric Gagne ruin our birthdays. We watched a weakened lineup**** play down the stretch in September while the Yankees were mashing the ball all over the boroughs. We endured three miserable games in Detroit after the All-Star Break and three in Toronto in September, lost to Texas and Baltimore and Tampa Bay, suffered scoring droughts, costly injuries, and a fatigued bullpen tossing batting practice to Cleveland in the 13th inning of Game Two. We should remember all those things. Remember the headaches--our own and Papelbon's--and the ulcers we developed every time Daisuke Bat-suzaka walked the bases loaded. We should remember that the honorable Rockies fought to within one run in three of the four World Series games, making for a little bit of old-fashioned New England pearl-clutching before the town's best Irish dancer slammed the door.
Why hold on to the stress and pain along with the love and glory? Because it all goes to prove the point: our team could make all those mistakes, from the front office to Manny throwing his helmet, and still post dominant numbers across the board. Our team didn't quit until the last out, didn't fear momentum shifts, didn't panic, and David Ortiz made sure they never forgot their bad motherfucker-hood. Don't lose sight of how close they came to falling apart--that's how strong they were, to face that down and lock in and succeed.
This year, they were just that good.
Thank you, Red Sox. Don't stay away too long. What will we do without you?*****
*And T-shirts. T-shirts to keep us warm AND express our love. Thanks for letting us know you're interested--you guys rock, and they will be here very soon.
**Kind of hard to believe that six months ago we were freaking out about Josh Beckett's "avulsion", no? And did they ever define that made-up word to our satisfaction?
***We hope that by this point, Theo is hearing those chants in his head even when it's silent. "Sky Cries Lowell." "I Dream of Mikey with the Crooked Brown Goatee."
****Seriously, we'll miss Eric Hinske but we won't miss seeing him at first base. Maybe he and his awesome tattoos will turn up on a TLC reality show.
*****Next on Respect the Tek, a conversation between Todd Helton and Peyton Manning:
"I know, right? Fuckin' Boston!"