And the biggest change, the change that will probably impact your life as much as mine, was the creation of my very own Babbling Bostonian website. The picture of me is terrible, the HTML is brutal, the mailbag is empty, but damnit, the articles are extraordinary! The address is listed at the bottom of the column, so check it out.
Now back to my regularly scheduled column
The sports world really isn’t the same as it was four months ago. To borrow a line that Mase coined this summer, “The game ain’t the same since I left the house.” So much has happened, I don’t even know where to begin.
Who am I kidding? There’s only one sport and only one team to begin with this week: the red-hot Red Sox. Just a few weeks ago, people began talking about what a wasted season this was for the Red Sox. They were playing .500 ball, stuck just behind two teams almost surely ready to break out and pull away in the wild card race and had a double-digit deficit against the Yankees in the AL East. Worst of all, the Sox had not improved at all since the return of Nomar Garciaparra and Trot Nixon.
Then the trade deadline arrived. Garciaparra was shipped to Chicago. In came Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz to bolster the defense. In came Mike Myers, Terry Adams and surprise, surprise, Ramiro Mendoza, to upgrade the bullpen. All of a sudden, the Sox came alive. Derek Lowe looks like the Derek Lowe of old. Bronson Arroyo has emerged as a legitimate number-three starter. And the big three of Schilling, Martinez and Wakefield looks unhittable and unbeatable.
It’s all coming together and let it be known: I predicted this months ago. Months ago I exclaimed that this was the year for the Red Sox. The chosen year (2004), the chosen team (the Red Sox) and the chosen one (me) to complete it all. It was almost easy to see developing. Young Theo, as Dan Shaughnessy loves to call him, must have seen it as well. He wasn’t smug when the Sox busted out of the gates racing toward a division lead, and he didn’t panic when the Sox settled into a .500 stretch for 90 or so games in the middle of the season. Young Theo knew it all along, just like I did.
The Red Sox are a team on a mission. The Sox are a team hungry to prove critics wrong, hungry to showcase their talent and hungry to win a World Series for the city of Boston. The current Red Sox players and ownership know how much baseball means to the city of Boston. They know that a World Series would elevate their status as professional athletes and celebrities to super heroes and legends. Not only would the city and probably even the state shut down for Red Sox Day, Week and Year, but the players would get their own days as well. Rosh Hashana in Boston would be renamed Gabe Kapler Day and Yom Kippur would be Kevin Youkalis Day. Independence Day would be Manny Ramirez Day since he’s a recently converted American citizen. The whole month of February would be renamed Mientkiewicz since it’s the hardest month to spell and most often mispronounced. I could go on forever, but you get the point.
Just a month ago, people were starting to talk about the Patriots’ preseason. The talk shows were getting bored of the Red Sox and listeners and callers were beginning to ask for more Patriots talk. After all, the Patriots are the defending Super Bowl Champions. People were even suggesting that the Patriots were Boston’s new favorite team, surpassing the Red Sox just this summer.
I think that’s when the Red Sox woke up: When the people of Boston began suggesting that the Sox were no longer the apex of Boston sports. How foolish, or how brilliant! Maybe that small admission, that kick in the butt, was all it took for the Red Sox to start playing some good baseball. It worked, and the Red Sox are playing the best ball in Major League Baseball. They have the best offense (based on the numbers), the best pitching staff (based on the numbers) and the best chemistry now that Nomar is gone.
With Nomar in Chicago, everyone wants to see a Red Sox-Cubs World Series. Not me. I want to see a Red Sox-Braves World Series. Here’s why: The Braves and Red Sox are the two hottest teams in baseball, both on and off the field. Both teams have fans nationwide and are the two most likable organizations in the league. Despite the Braves’ incredible streak of division titles, everyone is always counting them out, yet rooting for them at the same time. It might not have the aura of a Red Sox-Cubs series, but it would definitely have the history and the fan-appeal necessary to make the Red Sox World Series one to remember forever.
Not Guilty? Or just dismissed?
In five years, people will not remember that the charges were dropped against Kobe Bryant. They will not remember that Bryant’s life and image were dragged through the mud for over a year. What they will remember is that Kobe Bryant was proven innocent.
But wait … Bryant was not proven innocent. In fact, we will never know whether or not Kobe Bryant committed sexual assault against a white teenage girl from Colorado. We will never know what actually happened until Bryant’s biography comes out well after he retires to a gated community in an exclusive neighborhood and LeBron James Junior is scoring 50 points per game for the new NBA (or IBA) team in Russia. Just think about Bryant’s character and his actions before openly declaring his innocence. Drop does not mean innocent.