A return to exuberance: Meditations from a former-Red Sox columnist

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Image via @RedSox on Twitter.


When Alex Verdugo drove the fly ball toward the Green Monster in the bottom of the ninth inning on Monday night—my heart leapt[1] up, and I sprung from the couch to my feet.

When Tampa’s Austin Meadows caught said fly ball and futilely fired it home as Red Sox pinch-runner Danny Santana[2] safely strode across the plate for the series’ winning run, sending the 2021 Boston Red Sox to the American League Championship Series, something else happened.

I can only describe it as a return to exuberance[3].

You see, for many years I wrote about the Boston Red Sox[4]. At first, it was in a cyber-void on a free blogspot that I racked my brain naming Nate Graziano’s Big Blog. I used the blog to share my thoughts and grievances about the Red Sox while shamelessly self-promoting my own books[5].

Then, in 2013, my cousin Ed introduced me to two of his old frat brothers from Plymouth State[6], Colin Young and SJ Torres, who had a print tabloid called Dirty Water News[7] that they were distributing throughout the city of Boston. And, somehow, I wiggled my way into writing a column for their paper.

DWN evolved and eventually became a full media site. So I kept writing about the Red Sox, but now with the former Boston Globe writer and venerable sports journalist, Steve Silva, as my editor.

While working with Steve, he arranged for me to interview some of the biggest journalists in major league baseball, such as Buster Olney, Karl Ravech and Matt Vasgersian[8].

I enjoyed working with and learning from Steve, and still enjoyed writing about the Red Sox.

Then it stopped.

I’m not sure if it was COVID-19, or ennui, or the feeling that I’d finally succumbed to nihilism. But after decades of fervent fandom, I felt numb about baseball, and for the first time since the strike in 1994, I wasn’t interested and had nothing to say about the game.

I could barely watch any of the 60-game COVID-season with the cardboard cut-out fans without wanting to cry. The result was that I didn’t watch a ton of baseball.

This season, the passion started to return, but I was still tepid. Other than screaming at the Red Sox on the televisions at Chelby’s Pizza[9] and being a judgmental prick toward Chaim Bloom, I still haven’t said or written much[10] about the team.

Then the Red Sox beat the vile Yankees in the Wild Card game, and the exuberance returned[11].

This Red Sox team is a fun group to watch[12]. And, like it or not, they have a little bit of the same affable stupidity as the 2004 Idiots. And Alex Cora’s story of redemption is a sneaky subplot.

So here I am, inspired to write about the Red Sox for the first time since I stopped writing my column. And maybe this is part of all of our elusive return to normalcy.

Regardless, it feels good to write about baseball again.

But not as good as knowing that the New York Yankees are golfing right now.

______

[1] When the poet English William Wordsworth described this feeling in his poem “My Heart Leaps Up,” it might’ve been similar. Only I wasn’t looking at daffodils, and I wasn’t have a creepy relationship with my sister.

[2] There is no-known relation to the original Woodstock performer Carlos Santana. But his band could definitely jam.

[3] To be completely honest, when I saw Alex Cora hugging his daughter, who is also freshman at Boston College with my own daughter, things got dusty for a moment in my house.

[4] I was always an avid Red Sox fan. As an adult, at times, it really meant something.

[5] I was basically killing time until one of my books broke out and sold millions, and I became a famous novelist. I executed this plan incredibly well.

[6] I also attended Plymouth State. I’ll leave it at that.

[7] At one time Dirty Water News distributed copies in Manchester as well.

[8] One of the really cool things about being a journalist is that you get to talk with cool people.

[9] They’re not closed.

[10] Unless you count my trolling of Yankee Fans on social media: that’s become part-time work.

[11] Full-disclosure: as a fairly discerning fan of the game, I didn’t expect the Red Sox to make the playoffs, much less take out the Bad Guys in the Wild Card game.

[12] They’re similar in many ways to The Beards of 2013, a team that has a lot of heart and no business going this far in the postseason.