So I wrote this piece back on October 14, 2013. I never put it up. I don’t really know why, but now that Tom Brady has eclipsed 400 TD passes and David Ortiz has sailed past 500 home runs, I think it will fit in quite nicely to your Monday reading schedule!
October 14th, 2013
We watch sports for the moment. The place in time and space where everything aligns just right and your team emerges victorious from what looked like certain defeat. These moments create heroes and forever those heroes create hope, no matter how dire the situation. Boston sports fans had the pleasure of witnessing 2 of these moments by 2 of it’s greatest heroes about 5 hours apart last night. Pay attention and enjoy it kids, this shit doesn’t happen every day.
At the start of the 4th quarter the Patriots were leading the Saints. It wasn’t comfortable, but the Patriots Defense had held the Saints explosive offense in check. Drew Brees was going to have to ratchet up his game and drive his team down the field for a go ahead touchdown. He did just that. Saints lead 24-23. Then the feeling of years of dread crept into any 30+ year old Boston Sports Fan’s psyche. (Our earliest years of sports fandom were shared with our fathers and were dominated by abject failure in the moment, we had goats, not heroes. Our first moments of a more independent nature that we shared with friends were again dominated by failure. It wasn’t until our 20’s that we first experienced a true moment and a true hero. So our blood has a more than healthy dose of abject failure mixed into our recent success, and when things look like they are going to go bad, we always assume the worst. As much as it would seem to be nurture, I totally think it’s nature.) The Saints kicked off. The Patriots do not get a 1st down on the first 3 downs and so here comes the punt team. Oh wait no, Belichick decides to go for it, and they don’t get it. The Saints don’t use a ton of clock, kick a Field Goal and now lead 27-23. Saints kick off. First play from scrimmage, interception by Keenan Lewis. Saints do not get a first down and punt. Enter Boston’s greatest recent hero Tom Brady. Tom Terrific, The Golden Boy, men want to be him, women want to be with him. 8 plays later Brady threw an absolutely gorgeous touchdown pass and was again the greatest hero Boston has had since the 1980’s.
Here is that game winning TD pass captured on a fan’s cell phone in the stands.
Brady means hope in Boston. This year has been different. Brady hadn’t made a magic bean stalk out of the sack of beans he was given for last years potent receiving core. It hadn’t clicked yet. Yesterday it clicked and started what I can only imagine is the third act of Brady’s heroic career here in Boston. The act where he gives us a handful more moments to add to his already illustrious list and makes heroes out of guys named Kenbrell and Aaron and Hoomanawanui.
A few hours later the Red Sox had 1 hit (by Daniel Nava, I’d have lost THAT bet) in the first 14 innings of the American League Championship. They looked clueless and overmatched as hitters. The swagger they had dominated the Rays within the American League Division Series was gone and it was starting to show in the pitching and fielding. Remember that feeling of dread that crept up in the Patriots game when the Saints first took the lead? It was in full force in the 6th inning as Clay Buchholz gave up 4 more runs to make the score 5-0 Tigers. A sampling of social media posts that ran across my feeds as this happened.
Davey J: “Well…It was a good season.”
@EllieBaby79: “Do we even want this anymore? Pedroia, what are you swinging at? 8 mutha fucking strikeouts in 4 innings? #LetsGoRedSox get ur shit together”
So that is where the our heads were at collectively as a fandom. I even turned off the baseball game after this back and forth with Jay.
Me: Well Clay don’t have it tonight……
Jay: Well at least we can watch football now
Me: could be an ugly series come wednesday…
Jay: It’ll be over Wednesday
Me: That’s what I mean.
Jay: That would be merciful.
And then as the Cowboys were corralling the Redskins my social media feeds exploded with all manner of the following.
Davey J: “YOU’VE GOTTA BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!!!!!”
@EllieBaby79: “That’s the shit I’m talking about! Who wants it?! Big Papi wants it! #LetsGoRedSox”
All the while I was still talking to Jay:
Jay: About fucking time! And torii hunter hates Fenway
Me: What happened?
Jay: Papi hit a grand slam
Jay: Hunter crashed into/over the bullpen
Me: tie game?
Me: we will see what happens now that I am watching again
Me: hahaha thats’ the exact number of “o”s Lucas used in the Revenge of the Sith script (this folks is a Star Wars joke referring to the first shot of Darth Vader in the prequel trilogy when he realizes he is now more machine than man and screams no.)
Jay: It’s saved in my phone.
And in that moment it was the 2004 Red Sox again. And Big Papi, David Ortiz was our hero again. As he has been so many times since 2003. He is the only player left from that 2004 World Championship team and I like to think he conjured the ghosts of Nixon the dirt dog, Damon the idiot and Millar with Jack Daniels and said, like Pedro Cerrano in Major League, “if you no help me now, fuck you.” And with that grand slam, the single most splendid feat in sports, Big Papi cinched his place as a legend and as Boston’s second greatest hero since the year 2000.
Here is that Ortiz grand slam, captured on a fan’s cellphone in the stands.
We watch months and months of sports to see that 1 game that ends in a hail mary or walk off grand slam. We watch unspectacular play after unspectacular play impressed by the ability of athletes to be so consistent, to grind out game after game, with so little to show for a good at bat in April, or a well run pass route in September. It is all worth it when you get that moment, when a player is put into a position to become a hero or to forever be remembered as not just a guy. Tom Brady and David Ortiz have given us moment after moment, year in and year out, they are 2 of Boston’s greatest sports heroes ever. Yesterday they each reaffirmed their hero status and gave us 2 independent moments, that each on their own would have made October 13th 2013 a memorable day in Boston sports. In tandem they made it the greatest non championship clinching day in Boston sports history, because as we all know a championship trumps all. Pay attention and enjoy it kids, this shit doesn’t happen every day.