Congratulations, Astros!

Congratulations to the Houston Astros, the 2017 World Series champions!

As a native New Englander, I am a Boston Red Sox fan, so I didn’t have a particular affinity for either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Houston Astros, but I was hoping that Houston would win because of the boost it will give to the people of the Houston area, beleaguered by the historic flooding caused by Harvey.

It reminds me of the Boston Red Sox win in 2013 after the Marathon bombing when “Boston Strong” was a common sentiment.

The Astros wore patches for “Houston Strong” on their uniforms. It is heartening that the people of the Houston area have a reason to take a break from flood recovery efforts to celebrate their hometown baseball champions.

Congratulations, Cubs!

I grew up in New England as a Red Sox fan and, despite living in New York State for the past few decades, I have retained my Red Sox loyalty.  Therefore, I can appreciate the range of feelings that the Chicago Cubs fans have experienced.

Both the Cubs and the Red Sox have deep roots in baseball history and play in historic ballparks. Both went for decades without winning the World Series. Both were thought to be suffering from “curses” and now both have given their cities and their fans everywhere a thrilling World Series win.

The Red Sox fans waited eighty-six years before the 2004 World Series win, a sweep powered by the first-of-its-kind comeback from being down three games to zero in the American League championship series. The Cubs fans waited an agonizing one-hundred eight years for their win last night in a nail-biting extra-inning game seven over Cleveland.

It was such a long wait that there were no fans who remembered the last time the Cubs had won. Even though Wrigley Field is a historic ballpark, it was not yet in use in 1908.

Because the Red Sox world series championship drought was not quite as long, there were some fans who remembered the last time. One of my most poignant memories of the 2004 win was a friend of my parents who was a long-time Red Sox fan. She was one hundred years old and remembered when they were champions when she was fourteen. It was so sweet that they won that year, because she passed away only a few weeks later.

One of the common factors between the Red Sox and the Cubs World Series victories is Theo Epstein. He was general manager of the Red Sox in 2004 and is now President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs. Maybe Cleveland will try to hire him? They now have the longest World Series drought at sixty-eight years, although there are teams that have never won a World Series who might want to lure him away from the Cubs as well.

For now, this Red Sox fan wishes Chicago and Cubs fans everywhere a joyous celebration. I know that you are loyal and would still love your Cubs even without this victory, but I’m glad you finally have it. Enjoy!

LeBron James – seriously?

Have you heard? LeBRON JAMES IS HEADING BACK TO CLEVELAND TO PLAY FOR THE CAVALIERS!!!!! It’s all over the news and the internet. And I don’t really care.

For international readers, a recap: LeBron James is a very talented basketball player, so good that when he was in high school in Akron, Ohio, his games were broadcast on local television. He was drafted as a high school senior by the nearby Cleveland (Ohio) Cavaliers and played for them from 2003-10. When his contract ended, he went to Miami (Florida) to play for the Heat, in hopes of playing for an NBA champion team. The Heat went to the championship finals all four years he played there, winning twice. He opted out of a contract extension with the Heat and is returning to Cleveland to (ostensibly) finish his career, hoping to bring a championship to a city that hasn’t had a national-level champion in any major sport for fifty years.

I’m not a basketball fan, but I understand part of the dynamic for Cleveland. I grew up in New England as a fan of the Boston (Massachusetts) Red Sox (baseball) team, which went 86 years without winning the World Series. When they won the World Series in 2004, it was exciting and emotional for me, even though I no longer live in New England. The bond between the team and the city of Boston was never more evident than the 2013 championship parade, when the team stopped at the finish line of the Boston Marathon near the site of the bombings, placing the World Series trophy draped with a special Boston Strong team jersey on the line. I even blogged about it. 

What is curious about the LeBron James situation is that Cleveland reacted very strongly when he announced he was leaving to go to Miami. He was widely vilified – people publicly burning, ripping, defacing, etc. jerseys that bore his name and number, calling him a traitor, a coward, and a lot of names one would not use in polite company.

One of the things I’ve noticed in the coverage of James’s return is that the Cleveland fans that are shown crying and cheering and generally rejoicing are almost exclusively men. There are many women fans of basketball, so the dearth of women in the coverage strikes me as odd. Are men more the forgive-and-forget type? Do they have a four-year statute of limitations on betrayal, which was the word frequently used when LeBron left?  Are women more wary and need a bit more time to get used to the situation before welcoming him back?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that no sports story – sorry, but not even the World Cup – should be the top story on a national news broadcast. Not when people are dying from bombs and gunfire in multiple countries in the Middle East, when refugees are streaming over international borders on at least three continents, when there are wildfires, lightning strikes, typhoons, etc. causing destruction, when a blood test that can predict Alzheimer’s disease development has just been announced. So, sure, cover the story of LeBron James and Cleveland, but first inform the public about news of the country and world.

 

Red Sox – World Series Champions!

I grew up in rural Massachusetts and the Boston Red Sox have always been my team, so, of course, I was personally happy to see them win the World Series last night.

But this year, the story goes beyond sports and stats and the worst-to-first mythos. It’s about pulling together and teamwork and healing and strength and honoring what is really important in our communal life.

I appreciate the Red Sox working together as a team and supporting each other on the field and playing as a team instead of individual stars, even when that meant growing scruffy beards as means of solidarity.

What was more important was their effort to live “Boston Strong” after the Boston Marathon bombings. The Red Sox players and organization have a long history of charitable work and community involvement. Even as a kid, I appreciated their support of the Jimmy Fund, fighting childhood cancers, work which has been on-going for decades. In the wake of bombings, the Red Sox did whatever they could to honor the first responders and medical teams who worked so hard to save lives and bring healing. They supported the injured in their recoveries and welcomed them to Fenway as they were able to be out and about again. Game days gave everyone in the Boston area a respite from the day-to-day slog of recovery, whether in person at Fenway, or on TV or radio. And they reclaimed the name “Boston” for the whole country, so that today the first thing that comes to mind is Boston Red Sox – World Series Champions, not Boston bombings.

Thanks, Red Sox, for giving Boston a reason to celebrate. You and the city are truly Boston Strong.