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Indians Indians Archive Respect For Boston
Written by Jeff Rich

Jeff Rich

We all only have so much time in this world, so what’s the point in wasting so much of it, focused on the horrific things that happen?  One could argue that we reveal our true character during our toughest hours, and that would usually relate to all of the anti-joy we experience as Cleveland sports fans in this space, but even the knuckleheads that put too much stock into what happens on the field of play can recognize that there are simply things that are bigger than rooting for Team A to beat Team B.  On Tuesday evening, that very field of play at the corner of Ontario and Carnegie will host an event that is bigger than what’s printed on the ticket.

The Boston Red Sox come to town, fresh off their Patriots’ Day victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, an annual game at Fenway Park that begins at 11 AM to accommodate the Boston Marathon, arguably the most popular marathon this nation hosts.  With a victory in the books, the team from Bean Town was bound for Cleveland to take on their one-time skipper Terry Francona and the new look Indians; Monday’s terrible events had not taken place yet.  One has to wonder how much of a difference it would have made if the news had reached the players, coaches, and team employees traveling with the team before they arrived at Logan Airport.

How helpless do you have to feel when your hometown doesn’t feel safe?  Could you imagine life in the mid-Atlantic when the DC sniper was terrorizing east coast highways, or to be more broad, how we all felt on that warm Tuesday morning in September of 2001, when domestic tranquility was thrown by the wayside?  Personally, I left everything that I ever knew and loved behind, just five days later to start a new life on the other side of the country.  Fortunately, I had a few days; I wasn’t leaving a wife and children behind, with unanswered questions.  That is precisely the state that those traveling with the Boston Red Sox are in right now, even if the map tells us that they’re in Ohio.

At 7:05 tonight, Ubaldo Jimenez is going to throw a pitch to Jacoby Ellsbury (or whoever John Farrell in the lead-off spot), and they’re going to play nine innings of baseball, but who can think about that right now?  Dustin Pedroia’s youngest hasn’t celebrated his first birthday yet.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia and his wife Ashley have three little ones, and the human element to these Red Sox in times like these goes on and on, but it goes beyond just them.  It’s the Boston name that they were across their road grays; like it or not, these guys are somewhat ambassadors that will memorialize the wounded, the fallen and those who survive them.

We shouldn’t see them as victims, in the same light that no Yankee or Met should have been in 2001, but as those who represent the heroes, the first responders.  Remember, when everyone else is running away from the horror, there’s a group running towards it to help those who are unable to run away.  We know that Jackie Bradley Jr. wasn’t one of those people, but when he’s robbing the Indians of a would-be base-hit in the gap this week, we’ll look at the “B” on his cap or the “Boston” across his chest, and think, “good for Boston.”

Does that seem to tough of a pill to swallow, to put a smile on the face of a Bostonian in this context, and at the expense of our Indians prosperity?  I don’t know; I’m just getting over the 2007 American League Championship Series now.  I held on to the bitter for a while, thinking that may have been the absolute last chance for the Indians, and maybe Cleveland in general to win a title.  If you need a refresher on that one, that was the one where the Indians needed one win in three tries against the Red Sox to reach a World Series, where they would have been heavily favored over the Colorado Rockies. 

MannyThat was a true testament to the whole “You think you’re better than me?” attitude that I had towards Red Sox fans that never seemed intimidated by the Indians, even when down 3-1.  I don’t know, it may have been heightened by Manny Ramirez’s comments that Boston going down in that one was not the end of the world.  I suppose that’s where this whole thing comes full circle; nothing that happens in sports, not a blown save, a botched snap, or a televised network special to announce your departure from a city, is truly the end of the world.

Losing your children because you sent them to their elementary school on the exact wrong day; that’s pretty close to the end of the world.  It’s ditto for the innocent students at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois; for their friends and families, that’s a lot more comparable to the end of the world than Joel Skinner putting up the stop sign for Kenny Lofton.  Whether you’re watching a family member run 26.2 miles or trying to catch a midnight screening of the new Batman movie, you don’t deserve to perish for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It brings me great shame that I’d ever act like a JD Drew grand slam is anything comparable to the end of the world.  As stubborn as I tried to be about hanging on, it was a wound (and what a pathetic metaphor that is) that healed with time.  Daisuke Matsusaka won Game 7 of that series that sent me into a long winter of angst, and I’d forgotten all  about it, until just now.  Not many from that 2007 World Championship team are still in baseball, let alone still on the Red Sox roster, but a few do remain.  Under other circumstances, maybe I’d take a little more joy in seeing those individuals lose to the Indians than I should, but there’s a different perspective to be taken this week.

Of course, Pedroia, Lester, and Ellsbury represent something else this week, something worth rooting for, from Willoughby to North Ridgeville, and all the way down to the ranch in Arizona where I do my scribbling.  They stand tall, wearing the hometown colors of those fighting to hang on, and those who couldn’t.  For a few days, maybe a few weeks, and maybe it will last all season; they stop being the antithesis of the Yankees, and represent all America’s heroes, most notably the ones running toward the danger.

We can’t forget any of them.  Now, maybe the Bruins will play a home game in Boston as scheduled on Wednesday (their Monday game was postponed and tonight’s Celtics game is canceled), but Boston’s first team appearance will be that of the Red Sox tonight.  You can be sure, with the ties that the Tribe’s front office and coaching staff has to the Boston organization, that the Indians will do their due diligence to recognize the situation.  Tuesday was going to be a heart-felt night anyways.

Though he refused to speak on the subject after Sunday’s loss to Chicago, Francona is going to be overwhelmed with emotion, facing his former team.  Let us not forget that the Indians, who were idle on Monday, will be observing Jackie Robinson Day with all players in uniform wearing #42.  And now, of course, you can expect a moment of silence for those killed and injured by Monday’s act of terror.

For the sake of civic pride, one would hope that Indians fans attending these games would respect the situation.  For a few days, let the boo birds fly south, and let Boston be.  It doesn’t mean we don’t still root, root, root for the home team. If the other team wins, it isn’t as much of a shame, not this time around.

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