“God has his fingerprints all over this game.”
I stole it. Clint Hurdle said that about game 4 and it resonated with me all day long. What Aaron Cook and Jon Lester went through to get to this point, to get the ball, was God’s work. What they did after “Play Ball” was awe inspiring in a million ways.
Hate to see the cheap shots taken by fans and writers at what went down over the last 5 days with regards to the series and Colorado’s team. They may not use it as an excuse, I certainly don’t expect to hear it from Helton, Holliday Hurdle or any others, but the 8 days between games, in my opinion, had a negative effect on them. I still believe we are the best team in the world, and 8 days or not we would have won, but I think it did impact them in many different ways. 8 days off and then you step in the box and have to face the best pitcher on the planet? Hats off to the NL Champions for redefining comeback and “against all odds”. What they did to even get to the 2007 World Series needs to be etched in stone. I think it will be lost over the next few months because of the outcome of the Series but it shouldn’t be, they did it with class and style. They played the game right and hard. Seeing true, old school, blue collar guys like Todd Helton finally getting into the World Series after putting up Hall worthy numbers his whole career is a cool thing.
There are a litany of people that deserve huge kudos for what just happened. From a personal standpoint it starts with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What I have been able to experience, watch, be a part of, just adds to the already overflowing life of incredible memories I am totally undeserving of. To be able to participate in, and witness, events that millions of people around the world will never forget is pretty much indescribable.
I thank the Lord for an incredible wife, 4 beautiful and healthy children. Shonda remains my rock. In a life that sees me pretty much absent from the home for 6-8 months a year she has held the fort. That’s saying a lot when that fort contains 3 boys, ages 12, 8 and 5, and a young lady of 10. Wherever next year takes us it’s incredibly comforting knowing the ships in order and my children, even though I THINK they miss me, are being raised by a woman of virtue, passion, devotion and love that knows no bounds.
I thank the Lord for keeping George Kerr well all year long. George is suffering from ALS, and we had a deal that he’d promise me to live life to the fullest this year, and hang on, in exchange I promised him we’d win a World Series. He sent me a pre game email before every start this year. We’re now going to begin working on next years wager.
I thank the Lord for bringing Peter Despain into my life. Pete, as the frequent visitors here will remember, was the young boy I was introduced to through 38 Studios President, Brett Close. His daugter Natalie was in class with Peter when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Natalie, obviously a young lady mature beyond her years, asked if I would talk to Pete and try to cheer him up. We spoke and became immediate friends, finally getting a chance to meet this year in Texas. Peter would email me “Sox mojo” each night before I pitched. I would hope it’s now easy to understand why ‘bad games’ for me this year never seemed as bad as they otherwise might have. When a young boy is emailing you updates on his surgery and chemo, and his dad is filling in the blanks when he’s too sick or tired to type, a loss is a bit less ‘stinging’. Real life comes into clear focus and wins and losses linger a lot less as well.
On the business side of things it all begins at the top. Mr Henry, Mr Werner, Mr Lucchino, they all have made the extreme commitment not only to us as players, but to our families as well. In a day and edge of P&L statements and win or go home ultimatums I cannot begin to describe what it’s like to work for people that care about you and your family beyond the workplace.
Passing the torch to the GM and his ‘minions’ as dumb people are apt to call them, Theo and the crew upstairs are obsessive about the game and the team. No stone is left unturned, no event too insignificant to scout. Kyle, Dana, Dave and the advanced scouts here, along with our video stud Billy Broadbent, work ludicrous hours doing totally unappreciated and invisible jobs whose results come out on the field. These guys are in some cases baseball ‘lifers’ who never step on the field, never are seen in front of a camera, but who’s contributions at times are as valuable as the guy throwing the 1-0 change up with the bases loaded and no outs, and getting out of the jam. Doing so because those guys spent countless hours compiling data and scouting video that says that was the thing to do. It’s a HUGE leap of faith for any player to put his trust in anyone not wearing a uniform and in the dugout but we’ve got a team of passionate people here that allow that to happen, and a second World Series in 4 years is proof of that.
Handing the torch off to the manager, and coaches. It’s no secret how I feel about Tito. I started his first game as a manager in LA over 10 years ago and I’ve been with him for every game he’s ever managed save 2 months in 2000. Trust me when I say as good a manager as he is, and he is good (8-0 in the world series, 7-0 in must win elimination games), he’s a ten times better man.
That doesn’t peter out when you talk about his coaches. Brad Mills is a manager in waiting. Millsy’s loyalty and dedication to Tito and the game, and us as players is unquestionable. He’s as smart a baseball man as I’ve been around and probably the reason Tito is as good as he is. I’d bet Tito would agree as long as Brad wasn’t allowed to hear it. That statement stands even when Millsy wears the pants 3 sizes too small…….
Demarlo Hale, Luis Alicea, two true baseball guys. The only negative about coaching staffs as talented and passionate as ours is that they are often times the names at the top of managerial searches every off season. I’d heard Demarlo’s name mentioned many times before I knew him, as a serious managerial candidate in a bunch of different instances. It took about 2 days in spring training to understand why.
Dave Magadan. I faced Mags quite a bit before he retired and started coaching but never really knew him until this year. I was blown away by his routine. He was in the video room as much, if not more, than I was all year long. I’d never heard the term ‘cage rat’ before this year either. Tim Mccarver called him that the other night and it fits like a glove. If he’s not on the top step watching his hitters, talking over an opposing pitcher, or in the video room doing the same, he’s in the cage with one of them doing some drill. Total dedication and great guy to boot.
Don Kalkstein. Sports Psycholgist. Hmm, is there a team or market more in need of someone like that than this one? Given the length of our season, the grind of the schedule, the market we play in and the other things that come with playing in a ‘win it all, always’ environment there is no doubt a need for someone not coaching, to chat with. DK is the goods. His dedication to the Dallas Mavericks is his only real vice (though it’s a necessity since he works for them I guess, but my Suns are still better!). DK is, after all is said and done, someone I would call a friend before anything else. He’s one of those rare people that makes you drop any and all pretenses about 8 seconds after you meet him and chat, about anything. He’s also Tito’s Fantasy Football bench coach and an incredibly horrid NFL talent evaluator……
John Farrell is the best. I’ve never had the privelage of being coached by someone that has had as much impact on as many different pitchers as this man did here this year. Any good pitching coach understands that his staff is 10-20 totally different and unique men/kids with as many different opinions and views on how to pitch. The great coaches understand that they have to be personal instructors to each and every one. In addition to the life draining amounts of time required, you can’t fake it. To be great you have to care, and he does. That’s the one thing that will stick with me if I never get to work with him again, was the amount of care and interest he had with every single one of us. The careers he’s changed this year will have far reaching implications, good ones, for this organization and Sox nation as a whole.
The other ‘behind the scenes’ folks that truly to make our lives what they are. Our strength coach Dave Page. A more passionate guy would be hard to find. He doesn’t make any pitches, drive in any runs, but he lives and dies with every out of every game. His dedication to us is just another small sliver of the pie that makes this family go.
Our clubhouse guys. When you hear players and athletes talk about families, and how we are one for an extended period of time every year, in many cases these are the guys we think about. From our Traveling Secretary Jack McCormick, pretty much our wife away from home who handles every single detail of our travel and life outside the lines, to Pookie, Luke, Joe and the gang. Day in and day out these guys have jobs that on the surface might seem ‘cool’ and ‘fun’, but in reality they are absolutely blue collar. For a WHOLE lot less money than they deserve they work 70-80 hour weeks making the entire thing run like clockwork. From laundry, to meals to errands to family emergencies, these guys are truly what makes this whole thing feel like a family. Familiar faces that you know you can count on at the most crucial times.
All that stuff, in my opinion, is absolutely crucial to what we do. Being able to come to the park knowing that strolling to the mound and throwing the ball is the absolute ONLY thing you need to think about, or be concerned with, matters. So much happens outside of the 27 outs, the 9 innings, the 200+ games, that has a direct and extreme impact on how we do, what we do, it’s hard to imagine being on a team that doesn’t provide that support. It’s been that way since the day I put on a Red Sox uniform, through the last out of the 2007 World Series.
What a year. The Red Sox everyone thought they knew, are gone. This is a new franchise, a new team. The foundation has been laid and the core talent is in place, with a whole lot more coming, to make trips late into October a much more common occurence than the world at large expects. I am hoping we can do it with a touch of grace, and class.
I’ll leave it at this. My personal situation will most certainly be talked about in the paper, on the radio and on TV. Many people will propose to know exactly what the Sox ‘think’ about me, and many more will claim to know what I am going to do, and what I want. They will claim to know what works best for whom, and who should say what to who, when. The only place that will be true is here. My thoughts are to post here once the process begins, and to keep anyone that cares about the situation informed via this blog.
If you care to check back a few posts to the uproar in spring training go ahead. Re-read the things I posted then because they are no different now. Shonda and I want to remain in the game one more year. Our preference is for that last year to be here, in Boston, as a Boston Red Sox. We also understand that if the feeling is not mutual we’ll find another home for this final season and make the very best of whatever situation we find ourselves in. There is no lose here. The ultimate win is to do what I said above, remain here and end it all here. Anything short of that is still going to be pretty damn fun and special.
There will be no ill will, there can’t be. What we’ve been allowed to witness, partake in and enjoy, goes so far beyond what we’d hoped and dreamed our time here would consist of that we’ll have nothing but thanks to offer to anyone concerned.
To Red Sox Nation we’d like to offer our deepest and most profound thank you for making the last four years some of the greatest moments personally and professionally, of our lives. Much like the fans in Philadelphia, and Arizona, you always treated my wife and my children with respect. You were far better to me than I deserved at times, and never worse than I deserved at others. The only thing I know I can say without a doubt is that I took the ball, every single time, and never ever left anything in the tank.
If October 28, 2007, was the last time I ever wear this uniform, thank you. It was an honor and a privelage to be allowed to play here.