Given the bomb dropped in Dan Shaughnessy’s column, regarding the team’s ambush of NESN analyst and Hall-of-Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley, where David Price (and his dog, Astro) confronted Eckersley on a flight to Toronto with the sole intention of humiliating him—as Price’s teammates, including veteran Dustin Pedroia, applauded and his manager, per usual, did absolutely nothing to reign in his players—I’ve decided to start an advice column to address the malaise Red Sox fans are feeling right now.

This column addresses a letter I’ve written to myself about the 2017 Red Sox, a first place team that has left me conflicted, confused and confounded.

Dear Nate,

I’ve loved the Red Sox since I can remember. Okay, there may have been a few years in the mid-90s, the strike years and the years where I attended college and thought little about anything other than beer and girls and how I would make it through class stoned; but other than those skinny years, I’ve been a devoted fan.

I can remember listening to the Opening Day game at Fenway in 1998 on the radio (I lived on a lake at the time and didn’t have television) when Mo Vaughn walked-off with a salami. I can remember living in Vegas later that year and dating a girl from Cleveland, betting her on the 1998 ALDS (a bad idea). I can remember sitting in a rocking chair in 2003, catatonic, after Aaron [expletive] Boone…

I don’t want to go there.

I can remember falling to my knees in front of the television when the Red Sox completed the greatest comeback in sports history, crying. And I also can remember waking up my then-fourteen month-old daughter in the middle of the night so I could someday tell her that she watched the Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years (she’s now 14 years olds and rolls her eyes when I tell her).

I’ve loved the Red Sox unconditionally my entire life. So, please, Nate, tell me why I have such disdain for this 2017 Red Sox team. Tell me why I like Aaron Judge—a [expletive] Yankee—far more than I like David Price (and his dog, Astro) or Dustin Pedroia.

Please, Nate, tell me this is only temporary. Tell me this, too, shall pass.

Sincerely,

Down on Beantown

Dear Down on Beantown,

First of all, I understand the despair. I understand that this team, until recently, had a milquetoast presence, and now the milquetoast has morphed into a collective contempt for a group of grown men accosting a Hall-of-Fame media member like they’re standing at a junior locker. The thin-skinned David Price (and his dog, Astro) echoes many players who have behaved badly in the past, wanting nothing more than a ticket out of Boston. Is this behavior discernibly different from Nomar Garciapara? From Manny Ramirez? From Josh Beckett?

price_bobblehead

There are players with exorbitant contracts—in all New England sports—who can deal with a fan base and a media that holds them under 24/7 scrutiny, who hold them accountable for performinh. Then there are those who become fungi, infecting everything around them. David Price (and his dog, Astro) is a fungus. He needs to go. He needs to opt out of his contract and play in place where the fans and the media won’t be such “meanies” to him (and his dog, Astro). I can only hope that Red Sox fans let him hear it when he takes the mound tomorrow night; however, given the Pink Hat population on Fenway these days, I find this doubtful.

But make no mistake. This is not about David Price, and his bullying of Eck on the plane. As the Boston Herald writer Steve Buckley rightfully asserted in his column, this is on manager John Farrell, who happened to strike lighting in a bottle his first year, and has since done little to convince anyone with half a brain that he has the slightest clue what he’s doing at the helm, on and off the field. It’s readily apparent that he is incapable of controlling his players, and I’ve been saying this for over a year now, it’s time for him to go.

So, Down on Beantown, to quote the late Leonard Cohen: “I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor.” There’s some exciting young talent on this team, and if watching Chris Sale pitch doesn’t make you as giddy as schoolgirl, you best get into watching golf or billiards or professional poker tournaments.

Try not to despair, Down on Beantown. I understand that generations of Red Sox fans spent their lives in despair. It became an intractable part of our dispositions, our worldviews. But, even in the past two decades, we’ve watched Nomar pout in a dugout while Jeter bled; we watched Manny stare at three of Mariano’s pitches with a bat on his shoulder; we’ve seen The Beer and Chicken Boys and other such noise.

So, yes, Down on Beantown, this, too, shall pass.

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Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. His most recent books include Hangover Breakfasts, a collection of short prose pieces (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), a novella titled Sort Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and his new and selected poems titled My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014). A new collection of short fiction titled Almost Christmas will be released in 2017. For more information, visit his website: www.nathangraziano.com

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