, Newburyport, MA

August 3, 2013

A year of promise and hope for Sox faithful

Newburyport Daily News

---- — I had just finished with the sports section when Big Freddy showed up for our mid-morning get together.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“The Sox,” I said.

“They haven’t been down since the getgo,” Freddy said.

“They haven’t been this far up for too long,” I said. “Last year, this time, they were crashing into a bottomless pit.”

“That was the old Sox,” Freddy said. “These Sox have a new manager, new players...”

“Not all new players,” I said. “Pedroia, Ellsbury, Ortiz ... they’re almost in a league of their own, and we need them - Poppy probably most of all. I don’t think he should be bashing telephones with his bat because he’s frustrated over a bad call however, but ...

“Don’t knock it,” Freddy said. “Bad example for the kids? Sure. He explodes in the dugout over the really bad call and blows his stack. Why wouldn’t he? Hitting. It’s what he’s paid to do. Even the ump said the next day he’d blown the call.”

“If a rookie beats up on a telephone it doesn’t work. But a veteran hitter like Ortiz? It shows what really caring about what he does is about.

“Teams need a backbone, but a backbone needs a body, and last year’s team had a fatal disease,” Freddy said.

“Enough with the figures of speech,” I said. “This team doesn’t know quit. Two walkoff wins in a row, and eleven this far in the season? This keeps up it’s going to be one for the record books.”

“It already is, and it’s all about building character - team character. That’s all important, “ Freddy said. “You can have star players - in fact you need star players - but most of all you need a team.

“Team is an interesting word, because it means more than one being pulling together.

“The Sox had good players last year. They didn’t have a good team. This year they have one that really cares and a manager who really manages. The last one was a good one before he burned out trying to manage the unmanageable.”

“Well, let us be thankful we have more wins than losses this far into the season,” I said.

“Amen to that,” Freddy said. “But the Sox aren’t the only team playing, and the beat goes on.”

“Too bad we can’t say the same for government,” I said.

“Oh there are all kinds of teams there, but when push comes to shove it’s every player for himself,” Freddy said.

“Or herself,” I said.

“That too,” Freddy said. “Politics is no sport. Politics is business of the highest or lowest order. Which is which in the eye of the beholders it depends on which party is pushing what and why.”

“Well, professional sports are about business as well,” I said. “Look at what the stars are getting.”

“That too, but it’s really based on what the fans are getting which it had better be enough for the owners to be able to pay the players and still come away with enough to keep the shareholders happy,” Freddy said.

“When you come right down to it, sports and politics are all about self gratification with consequences.

“That was what Big Poppy beating the bejabbers out of the dugout telephone because of a bad call by the ump was all about. And it’s why Sox fans are feeling as good as they are about going all the way.”

“Including the two of us,” I said.

“Because we have lived so long without feeling so good for almost a century before it happened twice? Twice! Who knew?

“And now hope’s springing internal for another? Who knows?” Freddy said.

“The word is ‘eternal’ not ‘ internal,’” I said.

“Internal. It’s in my gut is what it is,” Freddy said. “I don’t know about other people’s. Last year hope wasn’t springing anywhere.”

Bill Plante is a Newbury resident.