Once again, for the third time in the last 10 years, fans of the Boston Red Sox watched their beloved team win the World Series. I learned to be a Red Sox fan in utero and the pain and sadness of so many years of disappointment, close calls and missed opportunities have faded away in the glory of not one, not two, but 3 world championships.
There was no season like 2004 when the Red Sox came back from being down 3 games to none to the Yankees and winning the pennant. A week later the Sox won their first series since 1918. How could anything compare?
Well, I honestly believe that this one does and in fact, this victory just might be even more special. I say that for two reasons. First, this team’s personality, quirky nature and ethic of hard work and teamwork was so captivating, so enjoyable, so indescribably exciting. Coming back from a horrible season last year, they confounded all of the pundits and experts by winning 97 games during the regular season and beating three very good teams in the playoffs. They weren’t perfect but they got key hits at the right time, fantastic pitching performances, some clutch fielding to make up for some rather silly errors and had all of the baseball world admitting they were, after all, the best team in the major leagues this year.
But, there is one other reason why this one was special and it has to do with the tragic bombings during the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day in April.
From the day of that horrendous event, the Red Sox took it upon themselves to lift the spirits of the city and remind people that no one was going to take their city away from them. Team leader David Ortiz said that in rather blunt fashion when he said to a stunned national tv audience before the first game played after the bombing: “This is our _____ ing city” But, beyond all of the symbolism of the “B Strong” logo and the frequent honoring of first responders, it was the attitude of the players that made the strongest statement.
I love my home here in Ann Arbor. It is my home as an adult, as a husband and a father and I love Michigan and have no desire to pack up the car and move back to New England. But, twice this year, on Patriots’ Day when I heard the news and last night when the Sox won game 6, I really wanted so badly to be standing on the streets of my birthplace.
Thank you Red Sox for what you did for Boston and for all of us fans. Below, I am reprinting the blog I posted in April. I feel those words even more strongly today.
TO LOVE A CITY
The tragic, uncivilized act of terror which took place in Boston on Monday has left us all shocked, saddened and angry. And, it should leave us determined to continue to live life as we want to live it in this country in defiance of those who wish to undermine our hope, our freedom, our optimism for the future. We grieve for those who have been killed, reach out in compassion and comfort to their families and to all of those who have been wounded. And, we are once again filled with awe and appreciation for those who have bravely and tirelessly done all that they can do to protect and to heal. May we learn from the courage and compassion shown in the last 48 hours.
So much has been written and spoken over the two days about the attack and I have found myself listening less and less to the endless news stories and reading the paper more quickly than I usually do. As the hours have gone by, one thought keeps coming to my mind and it is that thought that I want to write about. It is not about violence, terror and pain or even about the uplifting actions of the brave law enforcement and medical personnel. It is about love: the love of a city, the love of this city.
I don’t question for a moment that any city can inspire love and dedication among those who were born there or lived there. Hopefully, all of us feel a strong, inspiring connection with the place of our birth or the place we call home. But, I also believe that there are some cities which inspire a greater sense of connection: a pride, a uniqueness, a more intense sense of belonging. And, Boston is one of those cities.
If you’ve never been there, if you’ve never lived there, you might pick up some of that sense by listening to the incessant ramblings of Red Sox fans or picking up on the elitist academics who talk about the intellectual environment of the city. But, if you have lived there, and even more importantly, if you were born there, you know that it goes much deeper than that. To be a Bostonian means to believe without apology that you were truly privileged to call such a place home.
So, over the last couple of days, I’ve asked myself why we feel this way.
It is not because the city is perfect. While I was growing up, we saw more than our share of racism and bigotry in this “Athens of America”. There is poverty such as you would find in any city. On a lighter note, the accent can be maddening and the drivers can cause you to want to leave town immediately (but you wouldn’t be able to find your way since the roads are impossible to follow). Still, there is no place like Boston.
Maybe it’s the mixture of history and contemporary life. The “Freedom Trail” which features revolutionary war era graveyards and buildings winds its way through the middle of the main shopping district. Maybe it’s the beautiful views like the one from Storrow Drive coming out of town when you come out of a “s” shaped curve and find yourself for a moment looking right down the Charles River. Maybe it’s the many institutions which are the “oldest” this and the “first” that that are all over the city from the world’s oldest subway to the nation’s oldest public school (yay Boston Latin!) to the oldest ballpark still being used in the Major Leagues. Maybe it’s the way everything has to be just a little different than the rest of the civilized world- candlepin bowling, milk shakes made without ice cream to name just two. Maybe it’s because one of the greatest attractions in the city is taking a ride on the Swan Boats in the Public Gardens, the most “low tech” and least exciting ride you will take in the 21st century but one you will never forget.
Why do I love this city so deeply?
Maybe it is all of these things.
Maybe it’s one I haven’t mentioned.
But, maybe it just is because it is home.
That’s the most important reason of all.