Six months after the World Series celebration spilled onto the streets of Boston, the Red Sox return to Fenway Park for their first home game of the 2014 season. The old ballyard will burst with noise and hubris. Another championship banner will be unfurled.
One salute will follow another Friday afternoon until it’s time for the Milwaukee Brewers to send their first batter to the plate to start the first inning. Then the Red Sox will close the book on last season’s unexpected triumph.
Will you do the same?
Didn’t think so.
You get it. New England fans weren’t born yesterday. Doesn’t matter if your team is the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins or all four. Doesn’t matter if you know who Satchel Paige was or not. Chances are you’ve heard his words: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
The great Negro League pitcher said that more than 60 years ago.
A player or team that looks back can’t see what’s ahead, can’t get to where it needs to be. Dustin Pedroia can’t hit the next pitch if he’s still thinking of the one he just fanned on. A team can’t be hungry for back-to-back World Series wins if it’s still satisfied by the first one.
It’s different for you and me. That’s one reason why last summer’s run to the top of the American League East standings was so surprising to Red Sox fans.
You kept looking back at the Bobby Valentine era of one sad, dysfunctional season and didn’t notice how new Manager John Farrell was doing until the playoffs arrived.
You kept looking back at the leaderless clubhouse of 2012 or the chicken-and-beer embarrassment of September 2011 and didn’t see the re-emergence of David Ortiz as Big Papi. Until he stood defiantly in the middle of Fenway Park with microphone in hand, and vented the emotion and obscenity most were feeling after the Boston Marathon bombings.
But what am I doing? Looking back. Perspective is healthy if you’re not in the game.
On Friday, next month, and in the dull heat of August, you will relive last season and that’s OK. You’re not a New York Yankees fan. You know what it means to go without. Talk about looking back, that 86-year gap between World Series wins hasn’t been forgotten. Not with Yankees fans rubbing it in your face until the Red Sox knocked New York out of the playoffs in 2004 and won it all. That’s one book that won’t be closed.
No one may be left from 1918 when the Red Sox won their fifth World Series in 15 years. The Yankees didn’t win their first until 1923. Let’s forget they’ve won 26 since. Looking back can be selective.
The Red Sox need tunnel vision. You don’t. The World Series wins in 2004 and ’07 and ’13 can be your security blanket. You might even want to share it with your Patriots brothers and sisters. When the next Super Bowl is played in 2015, it will be 10 years since the Patriots won their last. Their fans are feeling some anxiety when they look back.
Bruins fans are looking ahead. Their team may have the best record in the NHL when the regular season ends a week from Sunday. The Celtics? Looking ahead, of course, to the NBA draft and the rebuilding that was overdue.
Fenway will rock when the World Series champs are introduced individually and presented collectively. It won’t be the same as last October in Game 6 when the Red Sox beat St. Louis 6-1 to end the season. If you weren’t there in person, you were there in spirit. The Red Sox hadn’t clinched a World Series win at home since 1918. It was impossible to find a doubter that night. I couldn’t find anyone who complained of the price of their ticket, and the average resale price was more than $1,800.
The resale price of a ticket to Friday’s home opener was about $360 the night before. That’s about right. History is being cheered, not made.
And history is all about looking back.
Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: