Hopefully Bobby Valentine has many lasting images during his time in Boston. (AP Photo)
How I Got Over
By Kris Chandler
It has been two hundred and two days since I last wrote a piece for this blog. The world, particularly the sporting world, has seen some strange s**t go down. My last piece was coverage of the annual Charity Wine event the Red Sox host to promote their various player-inspired vintages. I met Jon Lester and got the chance to watch him and Clay Buchholz talk about what it means to be a part of a charity, and to see the time one volunteers bring happiness to someone's life. How quickly things would change. Buchholz would only pitch in fourteen games in 2011, and would not see the mound after June. Lester's season ended in mediocre fashion with three losses and a no-decision as the Sox collapsed in a rather epic manner. And, of course, we all know what happened next - Theo fled, Tito was run out of town, and Red Sox Nation began to take on the pall of one of the walkers from The Walking Dead.
But as the old saying goes, time heals all wounds. And it will. At 5:30PM last night, the Red Sox officially announced the ascension of Bobby Valentine to Manager of the 2012 Red Sox. In conjunction with the promotion of Ben Cherington to General Manager earlier this fall, the 2011 Red Sox were finally laid to rest, and the organization took the first step toward replacing this past fall's collapse with some fonder memories. While it's a little anxiety-inducing at the moment, I think the changes will herald a new era in Red Sox Nation. I'll reserve speculation about their chances in 2012 and beyond until the new year but, suffice it say, I'm excited. As sad as I was to see two of the cornerstones of the franchise for the past decade leave, I'm equally thrilled to have some new blood to revitalize a stagnant ball club.
I've been considering a post on the Patriots for some time now, but I just couldn't get a handle on who they are this year. They've played brilliantly at times, but have also shown some major flaws, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Brady and Co. have blistered opponents with an aerial attack we've come to take for granted, but have allowed some of the most inept teams in the league to score, seemingly at will. Recently they've begun playing professional defense, but I wonder how far that will take them in the post-season. Their secondary is young and inexperienced, but it has the advantage of being held up by Mr. Handsome and his armada of pass-catching receivers, backs, and tight ends. There is also the distinct boon of playing for one of the greatest football minds the NFL has ever seen. We're entering the final month of the season, five games left to play. If I had to lay a bet on how they'll fare come January, I'd put my money on them making it to the Super Bowl. Just don't ask me if I think they can handle Aaron Rodgers and the Pack.
Apparently, there will be basketball this year. I'm maintaining my role of jilted lover until I see just how the 2011-12 Celtics shape up. I won't get into a big rant about how both the players and the owners are self-entitled pricks with their heads up their asses. I will say I'm glad they finally figured out a deal that allows them to play the game again. Because, for all of the talk about who's taking money out of who's pocket, it's really the fans who've been paying the price all along. The fans, the concession workers, the bar owners who've lost countless business with no games being played to bring people out on game nights. Canal Street here in Boston is a graveyard on nights when the Bruins aren't playing, and it's costing the local business owners dearly. Let's hope they can recoup some of their losses later this month when the shortened season begins.
I've been thinking a lot about sports, and fandom, and what it really means to follow sports in this day and age. I'm an ardent sports fan, and anyone who knows me knows that. I love every facet of sports, from the actual games to the coverage to the aftermath. Some of my fondest memories are of playing sports, watching sports, and writing about sports. I've written before about how athletes are our modern gods, their deeds equaling the feats of the gods of lore. About how we project our own hopes and fears onto them, and allow our own fantasies to play out as we watch them strive to succeed on the world's largest stages. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, like being a sports fan. We take for granted every day just how lucky we are, especially here in Boston. Not just to have the titles and rings our local boys have accumulated over the past decade, but to live in a town so thoroughly populated by sports nuts. We're all brothers and sisters when the Sox take the field, or the Bruins take the ice. We collectively raise our voices and clap our hands when the decibel meter appears on the Jumbotron at the Garden, and we all leap out of our seats when the Pats score on a pretty pass play from TFB to Wes Welker. If that isn't the very definition of camaraderie, I don't know what is.