Good day to root for my favorite teams
Monday proved to be a fine day to be a Boston sports fan, but only after plenty of drama.
Full disclosure: I spent the 1960s and most of the ’70s calling southeastern Massachusetts home. I developed a lifelong attachment to the Boston sports teams whether they were good — the Celtics and Bruins — or horrific — the Sox before 1967 and the Patriots for most of their existence.
I remember the aptly nicknamed Dr. Strangeglove (Dick Stuart) playing first base for the Sox in the early 1960s, and in 1969 when the Patriots almost accidentally electrocuted their new head coach — Clive Rush — at an introductory press conference. Rush went on to compile a 5-16 record before being fired in 1970.
Yes, my background also means rooting against New York teams (with the exception of the football Giants, who were big on TV in SE Mass in the 1960s and of whom I remain sneakily fond — except in 2007), just as I expect New York fans to root against my teams.
So Monday was good stuff. Of course, on prime time TV the Patriots embarrassed the New York Jets, their main rivals in their division and one of their three prime AFC challengers — the others being Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
Honestly, going in I thought the Jets would win because of their better defense. Hey, what do I know?
The fact the Jets talked endless trash and the national media relentlessly hyped them before their 45-3 drubbing just made the result all the sweeter.
Even funnier after months of his bluster was loudmouth Jets’ coach Rex Ryan complaining about the Patriots running up the score. In the New York Post on Tuesday, a reporter wrote Ryan implied Patriots coach Bill Belichick was “rubbing it in, saying he was probably looking for ‘payback’ from the Jets’ 28-14 win earlier this season.”
“Trust me, we’ll remember this,” Ryan said. “There’s no question.”
I agree. I suspect the Jets will have trouble forgetting they got whupped on Monday Night Football with the entire league watching. Meanwhile, may I suggest the excellent Blue Ledge Farm herbed goat cheese to go with Ryan’s whine?
Of course, on Monday the Sox also introduced new lineup anchor Adrian Gonzalez, a first baseman who becomes the franchise’s second left-handed slugger from San Diego of Mexican descent.
Even the giddiest Sox fan doesn’t expect Gonzalez to match the accomplishments of the first guy who matches that description (Hint: He wore No. 9 and there’s a red seat deep in the Fenway Park bleachers that one of his home runs struck. And, yes, his mom was Mexican).
But Gonzalez, 29 next season, is a lock to be productive in Fenway. In the past four years, he has averaged 34 homers and 105 RBIs while playing in San Diego’s Petco Park, also known as “Where Fly Balls Go To Die.” Of his 71 homers in the past two years, Gonzales hit 44 on the road.
Meanwhile, the hitters around Gonzalez in the Padre lineup haven’t exactly resembled Murderers’ Row. The next most productive batter in the Padres’ 2010 lineup was Ryan Ludwick (17 homers, 69 RBIs for the full season). The next highest homer total for a San Diego hitter was Will Venable’s 13; next on the RBI table was Chase Headley with 58.
Gonzalez just might see better pitches to hit and more runners on base when surrounded by Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew and (if healthy) Jacoby Ellsbury.
Of course, this past Sunday offered the suspense of whether the trade of three decent Sox prospects to San Diego for Gonzalez would go through. For a few hours, it looked like it had fallen apart, and the Sox winter looked bleak — there were few other alternatives available for the Sox to reinforce their lineup.
But the deal was finally struck, Sox fans returned from ledges and climbed back into their living rooms, and Gonzalez will apparently sign an extension next spring for $22 or $23 million a year.
This was the only point where the insanity of it all got to me. That annual salary roughly equals the amount by which the Vermont Department of Education is insisting local schools collectively cut spending for the 2011-2012 academic year.
The four Addison Northwest Supervisory Union schools I cover are trying to hold next year’s budgets at their current level of about $17.7 million.
My family, including a teacher, concluded it was all nuts, and that our priorities as a nation are more than a little out of whack.
Still, in conclusion, I quote my Florida email buddy and Middlebury native John Commins about the day’s developments:
“Not a bad Monday in NE sports.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at email@example.com.