I head off later today to Boston with my nine year old grandson Eli for a trip to Fenway Park, planned months and months ago, to see the final three games of what has turned out for me to be a wonderful 2018 baseball season. (If you haven’t seen my earlier post about our first trip to this Red Sox temple, check out A Seven Year Old’s First Trip to Fenway.)
All three of these games will be against the Yankees, but these three games will have no major bearing on the playoffs. Rather, for me they will be a celebration of what has been the best regular season record in the 118 year history of the team. Their record, prior to these last three games, is 107-52, two wins better than their previous franchise record.
I could write pages on why this year has been so successful (see my earlier post, Success Has Many Fathers… for at least some the reasons I believe my heroes have done so well). And I could also list dozens of reasons why it has been the single best season in at least the 68 years since my grandfather first took me to Fenway when I was seven.
Yes. They won the World Series in 2004 after almost a century of not doing so. And then they won the WS twice more within the succeeding ten year period. The 2004 win was certainly the highlight of my (baseball) life as a long suffering Sox fan.
But, in some ways, this year has been at least as wonderful. Ever since Spring Training when the Sox went 22-9 (.710), they have played at a pace between .675 and .700+. Do you know what that means to a baseball fan, especially to a Red Sox fan?
It has meant that almost seven out of every ten games the Sox have played, they’ve won – sometimes on hitting, sometimes on starting pitching, some on relief pitching, some times on fielding, sometimes on base running, and often even when they were down as many as six or seven runs. They never lost more than three games in a row the entire season.
For me, that meant that I could go to sleep most nights ‘celebrating’ a victory. Also, it meant my wife Ellen did not have to sleep beside a disgruntled bed partner. And that went on for SIX months, half a year. Simply unheard of for this obsessive baseball fan.
Now, I’ve been reading and hearing for months that the season doesn’t matter if the Sox don’t at least make it into the World Series…and for some, they have to win the WS to make 2018 truly a special year.
Not so for me.
Of course I want them to win it all, and I’ll not be a happy camper if they don’t go far into the playoffs.
But nothing can take away how wonderful this season has been. How delightful it has been to see this group of 25+ players, along with their coaches, their staff, their ownership do what no other Red Sox team has ever done, and to see the joy on their faces seven out of every ten games.
Isn’t there some over used meme about getting there being half the fun?
In fact, I think one of my daughters wrote her college essay on the Ursula La Guin quote, “It’s good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”
For me, this year’s Red Sox journey has been what matters.