“Is that all there is?” was a song recorded in 1969 by Peggy Lee. It is a song about disillusionment and disappointment. It is a song about the 2012 Red Sox. It is appropriate that a song that was popular in 1969 so aptly describes the 69-win Red Sox.
As the baseball season draws to a conclusion without the Red Sox getting so much as a sniff at the post-season, I cannot help but reflect on the past year. It was a year that started with some trepidation. After the Great Collapse of September 2011, it was difficult to trust the 2012 Red Sox. Most of the same faces returned – including those with greasy chicken fingers and beer breath. The players that did not return (Scutaro, Reddick, Papelbon) were not the problem, so how could things get better? The pitching staff was suspect due to past performance or inexperience. The starting pitchers were a disaster for the most part. Daniel Bard was lost as a starting pitcher; and in making the transition from the bullpen was lost as one of the best setup men in the league. We lost Papelbon, our All-Star and World Series winning closer. His replacement, Andrew Bailey, injured his thumb in spring training and nearly missed the entire season which made the loss of Pap stand out like a sore thumb. (Bad pun intended.) The old guard was gone. Epstein, Francona, Wakefield, Varitek – gone. The Red Sox were rudderless. Bobby Valentine was such a question mark. We hoped for the best. We got the worst. A verbal scuffle between Valentine and Youkilis in April created an even bigger story when Pedroia put in his two cents and created a dustup bigger than him. The team was devastated by a league-leading number of injuries. Coming off a should-have-been-MVP season, Jacoby Ellsbury’s shoulder injury during the home opener seemed like a premonition of things to come. And it was.
We all know about the trade of Kevin Youkilis and The Blockbuster Trade of that four-headed monster, Gonzalez, Beckett, Crawford and Punto. Everything worth saying (and more) has been said about Valentine’s missteps, the players’ underperformance, the coach’s uncooperative attitude and the owner’s aloofness.
It was a year when everything was upside down. The Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland Athletics were kicking everyone else’s butts. The Red Sox could not even hold onto .500 for more than a day.
Sure, there is something to cheer about. The Yankees tanked in the post-season and got swept by the Tigers. Their anemic offense made the Red Sox look not so bad. But even that small victory was tarnished. For a true baseball fan, it was difficult to see Derek Jeter fracture his ankle and to watch Joe Girardi try to maintain his composure through the grief of losing his father. It was hard to enjoy the Yankee’s failure in the face of such sad circumstances. Except for A-Rod’s failures and foolishness, Teixeira’s general dorkiness, and the absence of Swisher’s smirk.
Is that all there is?
For this Red Sox fan, no. There was more. Although there is no question that my Sox need mending, I choose to look back on a disappointing year and find the silver lining. You see, I am not just a fan of winning. I am a fan of baseball. I am fan of all of the remarkable stories and moments that happen during the baseball season. And I am still a fan of the Red Sox. When I look back at the photographs I took during the season, I am shocked at how much I personally witnessed. There were special moments, sad moments and happy moments. Some moments were so special that I could not look away long enough to grab my camera. There were moments that will make me come back for more. So, here is my story in photographs of the remarkable things that I witnessed during this disappointing, but never dull, year in the life of a fan of the Boston Red Sox:
The year officially began with the introduction of Bobby Valentine at Christmas as Fenway. He seemed nice enough at the time. I told myself that it could work.
In January, capturing David Ortiz with his arm around Josh Reddick was the highlight of the Boston Baseball Writers Dinner. Josh had just been traded to the Oakland Athletics and he did not seem happy to be leaving the only organization he had ever known. Little did we know how he would blossom in Oakland and become one of the A’s most popular and successful players. Go get ’em, Josh!
In February, I was shocked to be contacted by Ashley Papelbon and asked to make two portrait quilts on consignment. The only hitch was that her husband had to be wearing his new Phillies cap! The quilts were sent off to the Papelbons while they were in spring training. I am told one was a surprise for Jonathan’s mother and the other will be kept by them. I usually create a label for the back of my portrait quilts which includes a miniature version of the photograph from which I based the fabric portrait. On these labels, Pap was wearing his Boston cap! Just a little reminder, Pap!
There’s nothing like the home opener.
I feel so lucky and blessed to have been at the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park in April. The organization did an exceptional job. The pre-game ceremony was moving and beautifully done, but let’s hope that the 101st year is better for the team.
At the 100 year celebration, we didn’t know it would be the last time we would see Johnny Pesky at Fenway Park. An emotional Johnny is seen here with Bobby Doerr, Varitek, Ortiz and Wakefield.
Red Sox fans celebrated Tim Wakefield’s long career in May as Wake decided to put away his knuckleball for good. His celebration was as classy and emotional as any I have seen and a fitting tribute to him. By the way, if you have not seen the documentary Knuckleball! starring our very own Tim Wakefield and the Mets’ R.A. Dickey, you simply must not miss it.
My quilted fabric portrait of Tim Wakefield was shown on the HD video screen at Fenway and on several television clips of the ceremony. Orders are pouring in. Not really, but it was pretty cool.
In May we said goodbye to Carl Beane, the golden voice of Fenway Park. Sadly, Carl passed away in a tragic car accident. A recording of his soothing voice was played before every game: “Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, welcome to Fenway Park…”
I have the most awesome nephew! Ryan and one of his teachers won an opportunity to say “Play ball!” at the start of a game in June. He invited me to join him on the field because he understood how much it would mean to me to be there. What a lucky aunt I am! The best news is that the experience seemed to re-awaken his interest in baseball. How cool is that!
I visited Wrigley Field during the Red Sox/Cubs series on a Red Sox Destinations trip. The best part of the trip was the meet-and-greet luncheon with Salty. He could not have been more receptive, open and warm. What a good guy!
Where were you on June 14? I was at Fenway watching Kevin Youkilis getting pulled from the field and traded away to the White Sox. It was an unbelievable and emotional moment for everyone — especially Kevin.
June was an eventful month. I met Mike Aviles at the Bosox Club luncheon. Best smile in baseball and a darn good shortstop, too.
July came around again and so did Youk. This time he was wearing a White Sox uniform. Sigh. But wasn’t it great to witness the emergence of Will Middlebrooks?
July 8: I chose to spend the evening of my birthday at Fenway watching the Yankees beat the Red Sox. Oh well. At least I got this wonderful photograph.
In July another celebration was held. This time the guest of honor was Jason Varitek, retired catcher and captain. Thanks for the memories, Tek.
Apparently, I was fairly mad at the Red Sox in August since I did not bother to take any photographs during that long stretch of time. Hmmmm…
Former Red Sox pitching coach and current Blue Jays manager, John Farrell, made a return trip to Fenway Park early in September. I wonder which uniform he will be wearing the next time we see him at Fenway?
The organization tried to distract us from the last place Red Sox late in September by bringing back the lovable 2004 Red Sox World Series winning team. It was fun but we were not distracted.
September 11: Red Sox vs. Yankees. What a way to end the year! Having purchased tickets to this game from the David Ortiz Children’s Fund auction, I was invited by director of productions, John Carter, to watch batting practice from the field. The next thing you know, I was standing in the dugout with David Ortiz and getting a Big Papi hug! Did that really happen? Yes, it did, and here is the photo to prove it. And the Red Sox won that night!
Is that all there is? Yes….for now. But there is always next year. Another silver lining to the end of baseball season: At least there’s more time to quilt.