Worst to first. April 15. Watertown. A run to remember. Beard nation. Forging west. Ninety-five years. The past twelve months—even the past six—have brought some stark contrasts for both my life and the city of Boston. Last year marked the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, so perhaps it’s fitting that the Red Sox should end 2012 on the lowest of notes, only to rise again from the ashes, a triumph not entirely unreminiscent of ’04. Before yesterday, it had been almost a century since the Sox had won the World Series in America’s most-beloved ballpark. The year was 1918, and Babe Ruth was still playing for our boys in red. Soon after, the curse was upon us.
But as interesting as the history is, that’s not really what this season was about. Even before the bombing of the Boston Marathon, 2013 was a sort of rebirth for the team, with plenty of new-old blood (that is, new-to-us veterans) joining the ranks. These guys had a reputation for being good in the clubhouse, and they would go on to prove it throughout the season.
The events in April changed the city, drawing the the citizens of Boston closer together—and the Red Sox even more so. One of the first things that my husband and I did after the tragedy was to snag $12 bleacher seats to a game at Fenway. It was a chilly April night, and the Sox were up 9–3 against Oakland before we decided we were too cold to see it through to the end. But before walking back home along Beacon, we watched Mike Napoli hit a grand slam and Will Middlebrooks belt a three-run homer, and we basked in the spirit of Boston’s reawakening, in the magic of Fenway Park. It breathed life into us, to be out in “our <bleep> city,” even though—or perhaps because—we knew that in just two months we’d be leaving the hub for our new home in the Pioneer Valley.
The combination of the Boston Marathon bombing and my leaving the city that had been my home for 11 years hit me hard, and becoming a runner myself and cheering on the Red Sox (we’d go to another game on June 6, undoubtedly the most exciting one I’ve ever seen at Fenway, and followed them religiously on NESN mid-June and beyond) have been a salve against my heartache. Running the five-miler in the 2013 Run to Remember was a huge accomplishment for me, but I needed something else to carry me through the pain of leaving the city I loved so dearly. Life goes on, with or without us; I had to keep running. I trained hard, working my way up to a 10-mile run earlier this month—and in three days, I’ll be running the Princeton Half Marathon. I’ve battled some knee pain, but when I think about where I was back in April, about how when all of this began and I couldn’t have run 50 meters without cursing, I’m amazed at how far I’ve come.
Not unlike the Red Sox. Watching them play last night was a complete and perfect joy. These guys weren’t idiots, and nobody cowboy-ed up. But even with the yackety-sax hilarity (read: disbelieving screaming [“Really?!”] at the television) of the attempted run-down on Jacoby Ellsbury, game six had that magical we’ve got this, ain’t nothing gonna stop this train quality of the inevitable. The knowledge of the game-seven buffer surely helped, but with the fire of David Ortiz’s bat, the heart of Dustin Pedroia, and the beards of… well… just about everyone, there was a sense that even though—as Red Sox fans know well—it wasn’t over until it was over, this was destiny.
October baseball. Feet falling on leaves falling on pavement. It’s been a tough year, but these things have been my salvation. I don’t know if Boston needed them—but I did.