For Fans, These Sox Were the Feel-Good Bunch

  • Boston Red Sox fans cheer during a parade to celebrate the team's World Series championship over the Los Angeles Dodgers, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Boston Red Sox's pitcher David Price reacts after ending the seventh inning in Game 5 of the World Series baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

For the Valley News
Saturday, November 03, 2018

The World Series concluded with Manny Machado of the Dodgers striking out and crumbling like a vanquished gladiator. Dede and I vigorously clapped (she may have called out “whoo-hoo!”), and I commenced a brief, but spirited Bacchanalia with a half bottle of beer.

Although the word fan is derived from fanatic, we are low-key zealots. It was closing in on 11:30 Sunday night, well past bedtime. Hail to the victors! Now turn out the lights and off to bed.

We awoke Monday morning eager to chat about how much we enjoyed this Red Sox squad. “They seem to like each other,’’ my wife said. “They also seem to be having fun.”

A photo of Boston’s three youthful outfielders running in at game’s end suggested that’s true: They ran with delight, beaming like high-schoolers who’d won a state title against all odds. Victory was theirs and a charmed life awaited. Or so it seemed in the moment, anyway.

Dede was caught up in the redemption story of David Price, the high-priced pitcher who up until this year had a sorry record in postseason games. She was taken by how he labored, sighing deeply before each pitch, seemingly with the weight of the world on his thin shoulders. But he left the mound in the deciding game with a warrior’s yell, screaming something not fit for a family newspaper. “Good for him,’’ she said. “Good for him.”

We talked about how we liked Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Dede thought he seemed humble and nice; I thought he was decisive. Dede is more about relationships. “I think the players really like him,’’ she said.

I know that many players have hated, loathed or despised their managers in baseball history, and were nevertheless able to perform well. Casey Stengel is reported to have said the secret of managing “is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.”

But I understood Dede’s sentiment. In these times, there is much to say for a leader who treats those around him with respect and is in turn respected. Cora met controversies with aplomb, carried himself with an easy dignity.

A certain unavoidable national figure could learn from that, but he won’t.

Despite a natural inclination to fret, I had no good reason to doubt the Red Sox. Through the long season they proved themselves again and again, chalking up 108 wins. I’d go to bed with them trailing 5-2, looking listless, only to awaken with them winning 8-5, looking heroic. This happened so often you would think I would be scanning the skies for rainbows when dark clouds appeared, but no, I still looked for bad omens. Events were to prove me wrong, in the best of ways.

The Red Sox bested the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs and then the Houston Astros, both very good teams that had 203 victories between them in the regular season.

It’s not for me to recount all the World Series highlights. One of the best was me giving Dede a scouting report about Rafael Devers, the third baseman who turned 22 during the series. “Devers can be fooled, but has a quick bat. He can hit the fastball,’’ I told Dede, and then he did — over the fence.

It’s good to be an oracle.

I was Nostradamus in the finale. I said J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts were both due for home runs, and they came through. I was on a roll. I might have been less accurate, of course, if the Sox were not on one as well.

But we fans have lots on the line, even in the throes of good fortune. My Fitbit tracker reported that my heart rate during World Series games ran 10-15 points higher than normal. When it comes to sports stress, even in the comfort of my easy chair, there is something of the squirrel in me.

I am not as devoted a Red Sox fan as one who recently posted on an online message board I follow — Sons of Sam Horn — that he was in the midst of building an addition to his home. He wrote that it was unlikely that Red Sox hero David Ortiz, Big Papi, would ever visit him, but if he did, he wanted him to be comfortable.

Another tried to top him. He said he had stopped drinking years ago, because if Papi ever needed a liver donation, he wanted to be there for him.

As for me, all I have to offer are blood, sweat and angst. For that, I have been amply rewarded in recent days: I am content to bask in reflected glory.

But if the Sox team bus ever rolls up in front of my house for a quick stop, I would gladly share the rest of my six pack. It’s Guinness, and the World Champion Red Sox are welcome to every last drop.

Dan Mackie lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.