Thursday, June 29, 2006

Passing of the torch

Photo by Jim McIsaac (AP)
I think we witnessed the end of an era last night - and the beginning of a new one. Pedro Martinez returned to Fenway Park to pitch for the Mets against his former team. Up until the first pitch was thrown - and maybe even for a bit after that - it was a love-fest. Pedro got a standing ovation at Tuesday night's game - a warm appreciation from the fans for all he contributed to the Red Sox for seven years. He was warmly cheered coming in from the bullpen, and when he took the mound. And that's when the adulation ended...

For the Red Sox responded with four runs in the first and four runs in the third. When he left the mound at the end of the 3rd inning (above photo), Pedro was done for the night. He said later that he was a bit undone by the warmth of the reception, and that he didn't have his "stuff." For the RS fan, it was a bittersweet moment. We weren't sure what we hoped for - part of you wanted him to have a great outing, to stick it in Lucchino's face a bit. Part of you wanted him to get shelled. But mostly you wanted a great game - a pitcher's duel, or maybe just tons of offense. Instead, it all was anti-climactic. It was almost embarrasing. Mostly you felt sorry for Pedro...

And then...suddenly, you noticed. Hey, Josh Beckett is pitching pretty good tonight. Hey, wait, his stuff looks (as Eckersley would say) "filthy." Electric. Almost unhittable. Hmm.... Somehow in the midst of the Pedro-lation, Josh got ticked. Hey, you can imagine him thinking, I'm pitching in this game, too. Let me show you what I can do. Hey, my personal life coach, Curt, says I can be electric, too. Come watch me.

And watch we did. It slowly dawned on me, that this is the new age. We loved Pedro, he was part of that 2004 team that we will never, ever forget. But look at what we've got going this year. Heck, we've won 11 games in a row. Our defense has the AL record of 15 games without an error.

And they might not have the charisma of '04, but I am growing to adore this bunch! Mikey Lowell - who'd have thought he'd be tied for second in the AL for doubles. And the way he works that leather - ooh, it must make Berman's head spin! Plus the sexiest salt-and-pepper look in MLB. Alex Gonzalez has gone 55 games without an error. (Edgar who??) And he's hit homeruns in the past two games. Youk - finally given a chance to play every day and making the most of it. A healthy Trot in right. Coco making his way back to health - did you SEE that catch Coco made! Sweet Mark Loretta - wow. He almost makes me forget my favorite Mark. Manny being Manny, but a little less loony, a little more focused. Our Tek - the guy is a wall at home. All those young pitchers - especially Papelbon. What a fantastic surprise he's been. And our big man, Papi - who could not love him? I love to watch him as he's waiting on the pitch - he scares me with his intensity. But in an instance, he's grinning and cutting up with the guys in the dugout.

Yes, we are witnessing an interesting year here. And to think I helped kick off their winning streak in Atlanta!

And so take your bow, Josh, you and the rest of this '06 bunch. You are truly OUR RED SOX!

Photo by AP