Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Red Sox - World "Serious"

World "Serious." It's one of the last little-kid-isms my 6-year old son has left in his vocabulary, but it's so absolutely perfect in describing how fans feel when their team makes it to the championship game. In fact, my wife, oldest daughter and I have all told Matthew's 8-year old sister Riane that she is to stop correcting him on it. We're not too sure that she understands why, but so far she's willing to go along with the rest of us on this.

Down 3 games to 1 against a Cleveland Indians team that had dismantled the Yankees, I have to admit that the mood in the Monaghan household wasn't all that positive, although once Josh Beckett started to announce his presence with authority (to steal a line from Bull Durham), I started thinking that winning this thing might be possible after all.

This has been a terrific season so far. Among the highlights - just about any time Jacoby Ellsbury has been on base, holding off the Yankees, winning the division, steamrolling through the first round, and of course pulling out the pennant after being down 3-1 against a very good Cleveland team.

But the best part of the baseball year for me actually happened rather quietly during a mid-summer's day game in Fenway Park. My 17-year old daughter and I took in a game while looking at New England colleges. On a beautiful sun-drenched afternoon watching the Red Sox win, I turned to her and said, "This is one of my favorite places in the whole world. I love sharing this with you." She turned to me and said, "It's one of my favorite places, too. Thanks for taking me here."

Last night she and my wife surrounded me on the couch as Dustin Pedroia slammed a double off the Green Monster, Kevin Youkilis drove a ball high and deep into the Boston night off one of the Coke bottles in left, and Coco Crisp made another ESPN Web Gem catch to end the game. And as Jonathan Papelbon beckoned for Jason Varitek to "come to papa" in celebration of the 27th out, they were both telling me how much they wished they were at Fenway. But at that moment, sharing the experience of having my favorite baseball team in the World Series with two of the most important people in the world to me, there was no other place on earth I wanted to be.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

J.D. Drew - Better Late Than Never

He has a reputation for being soft. One Red Sox front office executive told a gathering of team fans earlier in the season that there was some concern that while he has all the tools to play baseball, J.D. Drew doesn't always appear to play with any passion.

Last night's first inning grand slam changes everything. EVERYTHING.

Oh, and guess who was supposed to be in Fenway Park last night for the festivities? I HATE when work gets in the way of having fun!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Of Fathers, Sons, Baseball and Healing

That little boy in the picture is my 6 1/2-year old son Matthew; the photo was taken this past Saturday on the Bronx campus of Fordham University at an alumni baseball event. Matthew is an absolute baseball junkie. He eats, breathes, sleeps and lives baseball. His first words in the morning are very often "Dad, did the Red Sox win last night?" When I told him earlier in the week that we were going to a baseball-related event at the school on Saturday he immediately wanted to know if he could wear his uniform and bring his bat and glove.

Just the idea alone that I was back at Fordham is probably cause for a raised eyebrow or two. I called the school "home" for five years but since graduating in the late 70's I have not exactly been the Poster Boy For Universitas Fordhamensis Alumni and in fact it was probably the first time I have been back on the campus in a decade. Suffice it to say that certain university policies both during and after my time as a student have not always met with my approval.

That said, there's always been a rather big connection between my family and Fordham. My Dad came home from the war and after working for Pennsylvania Power & Light for a few years enrolled in the school and graduated in 1954. A large number of cousins on both sides of my family went there as well. And truth be told, I brought Matthew's two older sisters along on Saturday with the hope that 17-year old Courtney would take one look at the campus (which has always been beautiful) and say, "Dad, I think I might like to go to college here."

Matthew knows little about Fordham other than it's in the Bronx near the zoo and both his Daddy and his grandfather went there. He is completely unaware of my rather tumultuous relationship with my own father while I was in college or the myriad of medical malfunctions my body was going through at the time (Doctor to me during my post-lottery military physical - "Son, don't worry about the draft. It would cost the Army too much to fix you up."). The surgical scars on my knee are visible but as you probably know from your own personal experiences, it's the invisible scars that often are more painful and take longer to heal.

So there Matthew and I were on Saturday - on the same field where my Dad and I, his only son, once walked around. "Want to have a catch, Dad?" I often wonder how many times I asked my Dad that question as a kid and now here was the spitting image of that man - albeit a miniature version - standing there asking the same question of me. I called my wife and told her that she wouldn't believe the range of emotions rushing through me while Matthew and I were working on his circle change (how many 6-year olds have a circle change?). And as he and I stood there on an exquisitely beautiful autumn Saturday afternoon playing catch ("Let's use a hard ball, Dad."), Fordham almost felt like home again.

Thanks, Matthew. Your grandfather would be so proud of you. I know that I am.