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” title=”Ladies and Gentlemen: Your 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox”>Ladies and Gentlemen: Your 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox

I hope you enjoy this slideshow I made up in tribute to the 2013 Red Sox.  What a season!  What a team!

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Hang On To Your Hats!

The Wave

The Wave

Finally! It’s time to resume the baseball season! Is there anything longer than the All-Star break? You may have wondered if I was so wrapped up in my Boston Strong Quilt Project (see last slideshow post) that I forgot about my Red Sox. You know me better than that, don’t you? Did you notice I said “my” Red Sox? That is exactly how it feels this year. It’s my team. Okay, it can be yours also. I’m feeling generous.

This past winter we questioned Ben Cherington’s decisions. We wondered if the pitching staff could ever right the ship. We wondered if John Farrell was who we thought he was. We had doubts that David Ortiz could be Big Papi again. While I realize that the 2013 Red Sox are not perfect, I have a wonderful attachment to this team again. Ben Cherington was absolutely correct in bringing in those “good clubhouse guys”. Players like Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Ryan Dempster and Shane Victorino have contributed in immeasurable ways to the goodness of this team — on the field and off. John Lackey has been the John Lackey of old and I am genuinely happy for him. Even with the up and down performance of Jon Lester and the physical ailments of Clay Buchholz, the pitching staff has been performing better than expected. John Farrell has brought back a feeling of security to Red Sox Nation. You may quarrel with him about when to remove a pitcher from a game or when not to attempt to steal a base, but you cannot complain about the atmosphere he has created around this team. David Ortiz has been nothing short of spectacular — both as a designated hitter and as a leader. I do not want to report player by player here — everyone can see what is happening with their own eyes — but I could not live with myself if I didn’t mention the superb season that Dustin Pedroia and Daniel Nava are having. There have been some swings and misses — the injury to Joel Hanrahan, Stephen Drew’s inability to stay on the field, Will Middlebrook’s struggles in his sophomore season, the depletion of the bullpen due to injuries and overuse — but, overall, I like what I see. Furthermore, I cannot wait to see the rest of it!

I am going out on a limb and predicting that this team will make the playoffs this year. Will they go further? Who knows. All I know is that I like what I see on the field. I genuinely like the players. I love the comradery that I see on the field and in the dugout — the Koji Uehara high-fives, the smiles and even the silly matching beards. What a difference a year makes.

I was never so proud of my team — and my city — as after the Boston Marathon bombings. Some people have complained that the term “Boston Strong” has nothing to do with sports. I would suggest that it does, at least in part. Sports are part of the life-blood of Boston. Our first responders, police, firefighters, EMT’s, are truly the heroes. The people that were injured, those who lost loved ones and who witnessed horrible, tragic scenes are my heroes. Many are my heroes because they have chosen to go on with their lives, to hold their heads up high and show the world that no terrorist can defeat the heart and soul of the city. They are Boston Strong. But, also, seeing my team — “MY” team — quietly visit the injured and embrace the city as a whole was heartwarming. I will never forget seeing the “Boston Strong 617″ shirt hanging in the dugout — the shirt that Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia designed. The shirt that still hangs in the dugout at every game — both home and away.

Then there’s the custom bat that Jonny Gomes had made. He had the whole team sign one and put it up for auction to raise funds for One Fund Boston.

Boston Strong bat

Boston Strong bat

Seeing Will Middlebrooks promoting the sale of “B Strong” hats (proceeds going to One Fund Boston), and reading his Tweets of support for the city made me want to always be on his side. Now that he has been demoted to Triple A to work on a few things, I will always be on his side and hope he comes back to Boston soon. I always say that it takes so little to make a fan for life. Will Middlebrooks has done that for me. I’m a fan for life.

Will Middlebrooks B Strong

Will Middlebrooks
B Strong

And then there’s David Ortiz. Who else could get away with his speech in front of thousands, on live television, stating, “This is our f&%@+#g city!” Even the FCC didn’t mind!

"This is our &%* city!"

“This is our &%* city!”

I will never forget the pre-game ceremony on the night that bombing survivor and hero, Jeff Bauman and his life saver, Carlos Arrendondo, threw out the first pitch together. Considering that I had just delivered a Boston Strong quilt to Jeff through a friend, it felt like incredible happenstance that I was at Fenway that night. It was wonderful to cry at Fenway from being so touched and moved — and not from being so disappointed and disillusioned.

Hang on to your hats, Red Sox Nation! We shall soon see how this season plays out. Meanwhile, we can be proud of OUR team and OUR city. We can know that, no matter what happens, we can handle it because we are Boston Strong.

Jeff Bauman

Jeff Bauman

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I hope you enjoy watching this slide show about the Boston Strong Quilt Project. Comfort quilts were made for people injured in the Boston Marathon bombings. Be sure to turn on the sound.

Colleen

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” title=”The Boston Strong Quilt Project”>The Boston Strong Quilt Project

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On Baseball

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“Why do you like baseball so much?” asked my husband’s son.

My self-conscious, stumbling answer:

To love a team from childhood,

To care so much about the players…every game.

“I know that” he said impatiently,

“But I don’t remember you always liking it so much.”

I always did, I replied,

Not willing to say more.

Knowing he could not understand,

He who never seemed to care who I am,

Where I come from,

Or what is my story.

What does he know of what I liked or did not like

Before he entered my world

and I entered his.

I’m only a road that leads to his father,

An occasional home-cooked meal,

A home at the holidays.

He turned away anyway,

bored with my answer.

Conversation over.

 

His question stayed with me.

I know the real answer.

I think of the little girl,

With a crooked baseball cap

Clutching Daddy’s old catcher’s mitt,

The old leather scent of it,

Wearing her favorite red sneakers,

Spiral notebook in hand,

Keeping score.

The snowy television screen,

and the aluminum foil rabbit ears.

While Yaz hit homeruns,

Before Tony C. got beaned,

and Jim Lonborg charmed the hitters

into making outs.

(Her first crush – Gentleman Jim.)

First, she loved baseball because of the fantasy.

She wanted to play,

To be a boy running on the field.

Then she wanted to be the first girl to play

In the major leagues.

When that passed, she just wanted to marry one.

Those intriguing man/boys

in stretchy pants.

 

Time passed, no longer intrigued.

A child’s dream died

and turned into more practical things.

But the game lived on in the background

like the soundtrack of a movie.

She often turned away

But still checked the papers,

Took note of the scores,

Listened on lazy weekend afternoons.

Saw Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans,

Saw poor Bill Buckner

make his untimely gaff,

Nomar’s fidgets and twitches,

Manny being Manny.

Drawn in by the charisma of Johnny Damon,

His grand slam still rising,

The stolen base.

They captured a trophy

That her father did not get to see.

 

Still, she gave only half of herself

Until the summer of surgeries,

The agonizing wait for results.

She turned on the television

because she could do nothing else.

And there it was again.

 

Even when the scars healed

and the results were all good;

Even when the team was broken

and humiliated in defeat and failure,

She knew their scars would heal, too,

and she would be there.

The little girl

In red sneakers,

Who always loved the game.

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Opening Day

Opening Day

Opening Day

April 1.  At work

Sitting on the edge of my seat.

Radio on.

Volume barely audible.

In a stuffy office

of buttoned-down collars

and billable hours.

I’m wound up — excited.

Game on!

Attempting to concentrate on work

Knowing it’s impossible.

Don’t let the excitement be seen.

A friend emails, “Are you at work today

or at home in front of the TV?”

Another friend sent a “Happy Opening Day” card

converted from a birthday card

because Hallmark doesn’t make them.  (Their mistake.)

A cousin sends a message

“Happy opening day!”

They know.

It’s nice to be understood.

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Salty!

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My latest quilted fabric portrait is of Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamaccchia – the guy with the longest name in the league. The quilt is made of 100% cotton fabric and is machine quilted. It is 22″ x 28″ and was signed by Salty on the bottom of the number 9.

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A Week in the Life of a Quilt-Making Baseball Fan

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I’m hopeless.  I realize that.  I was mad at the Red Sox in 2011; then again in 2012.  But you can only be mad for so long.  I love the Red Sox again.  In fact, I never stopped.  You can be mad at someone with whom you love, right?   I bought tickets.  I’m ready for April and a new season.  Don’t worry – I won’t be buying any Fenway bricks.  I’m not that hopeless.  Yet.

I believe that women view sports differently than men.  No, I don’t mean that our favorite athletes must be sexy (but some are).  I don’t mean that they have to look good in baseball pants (but some do).  Women are not only interested in the play on the field.  We are also interested in the person on the field.  Personality matters.  Character matters.  Who are these people we watch so intently…that we cheer…and sometimes not.

This past week I heard that certain players and Wally would be out and about in downtown Boston giving away pre-sale ticket vouchers.  I packed my commuter tote bag with a camera and some quilt squares just in case there was a sighting.  By late-morning I heard that Daniel Nava, Ryan Kalish, Jonny Gomes and David Ross would be at Faneuil Hall in Boston at noon.  I hesitated only a moment.  The crowds!  The pushing and shoving!  The vying for space!  I went.   I walked into the historic rotunda and saw a few cameramen sitting down having lunch and a few people in Red Sox winter hats and coats.  It was freezing cold and everyone was bundled up.  There were some people sitting at a long table eating pizza – along with tourists and downtown office workers.  I sat down to text my friend that there was nothing happening, feeling a little disappointed.  Then I realized that among people sitting at the table next to me were the four players along with other team employees.  I sat and I waited, resisting the urge to make eye contact or disturb them while they ate.  (I hate when my bosses interrupt my lunch hour.)  All at once they got up, spoke quietly to each other, stood around and handed out a few vouchers.  Wally showed up and created the biggest stir.  Most people there were tourists and did not have a clue who they were.  Sadly, many fans would not recognize them without a number on their backs (and baseball pants on their trunks). There were no introductions, no muss, no fuss.  It was the perfect storm!  Armed with courage, a camera and my quilt squares, I approached.  First, Daniel Nava.  His big, open smile is very approachable.  We chatted a few minutes about the quilt I was making and who had signed and who I would like to have sign.  He could not have been nicer.  Then I approached Ryan Kalish for more pleasant chatting with a nice young man who happens to be a major league baseball player.  I wished him a great season.  His reply was, “I hope so.”  I remember thinking that he looked wistful.  Two days later, the news broke that his other shoulder requires surgery for a torn labrum and that he will again miss part of the season.   I am so sad for that nice, hard-working young man.  Feeling courageous, I set my sights on Jonny Gomes and welcomed him to Boston along with David Ross.  I am sure they felt like fish out of water.  Crazy Boston fans.  Each player cordially signed my quilt squares.  Four more!!!  I went back to work happy and excited about the experience.

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Little did I know that the next day would only get better.

I went to the Boston Baseball Writers Annual Awards Dinner.  Not expecting anything but some rubber banquet chicken and a couple of decent photographs, I came away with the mother lode.  I was carrying my commuter tote bag with Tito Francona’s new book, Francona: The Red Sox Years, which I was reading on the train.  Suddenly, Tito appeared in the room with a flurry.  He greeted several people and bellied up to the bar for some liquid courage – probably in order to see Larry Lucchino who did not exactly come off smelling like a rose in Tito’s book.  I sidled up to him at the bar and told him that I miss him.  It just came out.  When I saw him, I realized that I do miss him.  Maybe it is just a Bobby Valentine hangover.  Anyway, I pulled the book out of my magic bag of tricks and VOILA!

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At the urging of my friend, Kate, I packed my latest Red Sox portrait quilt of Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  I did not think it was an appropriate venue to seek autographs but I rolled it up and stuck it in my tote.  Kate convinced me that if there was an opportunity and I did not have it with me, I would regret it.  She was right.  Salty was there receiving the Tim Wakefield Community Service Award.  There was not an appropriate time to approach him throughout the cocktail hour or dinner, but good things come to those who wait.  And so I waited.  Out came Salty into the lobby and walking past me.  He almost got away.   I approached.  “Excuse me, Salty.  May I show you this?”  Unfurl quilt.  He blinked.  He looked at me.  He said, “Did you make that?”  Yes. “You made that of me?”  (How unassuming!)  It took him by surprise.  “I’ve never seen anything like that!”  Well, I said, may I ask you to sign it?  “I’d love to!”  That’s just plain awesome!

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Jonny Gomes, who accompanied Salty, had signed my quilt block the day before.  He piped up, “Hey, I signed something for you yesterday.  She makes Red Sox quilts!”  He remembered!  Priceless!

As if the evening wasn’t great enough, we also spoke to relief pitcher, Andrew Miller, for a moment.  Andrew was voted the Fireman of the Year by the BBWAA.  What an open face and friendly manner!  Mike Aviles, who was voted the Jackie Jensen Award for his hustle, was there and he walked by, said hi, and flashed that magnificent smile.  I hope he does well and enjoys being with Tito in Cleveland, but I’ll miss seeing that smile on the HD screen at Fenway.

I went home clutching my magic tote bag.  What a haul!  I’m quite sure I was glowing.  I love my team again!  They are nice!  They are fan-friendly!  They may or may not be a winning team but right now, I don’t care! I got home and looked through my mail.  I could not believe my eyes.  My lucky day continued!  (No, I did not win the Publisher’s Clearing House.)  In the mail was one of my quilt squares sent out weeks earlier.  This one was signed by John Farrell.  It was the perfect ending to the perfect day.

I couldn’t sleep.  I tossed and turned and thought of those moments…those brief conversations…Tito’s book and the terrific speech he gave…those signed fabric pieces…the signed Salty quilt!

I feel renewed.  I’m ready for “Truck Day”, ready for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training, ready for April 1.

Other people can worry about lineups, pitching rotations, wins and losses, playoff contention, quests for the World Series.  I cannot do anything about that stuff.  I can only watch and hope that I like the people on the field, that they play hard and put on a good show, that they appreciate the fans – especially loyal fans like me – and that they occasionally acknowledge our presence.  I can only control the arrangement of my signed quilt blocks and decide which player is the next to have his likeness stitched into my portrait quilts.

Last fall, I was talking baseball with a woman who suffers from crippling bouts of depression.  We were speaking passionately about what had gone wrong and what had gone right with our Sox.  She said something that I will never forget.  “Isn’t it wonderful to care about something so much.”   So, I will leave the angst to the sports writers and commentators who get paid to wring their hands.  Me?  I’ll just celebrate the art of caring. And wait for spring.

Salty

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