Thursday, November 7, 2013

Boston Stronger (part 4 of 4)

Click here for part 1.
Click here for part 2.
Click here for part 3.

Not only had the Red Sox succeeded, but Kim and I had as well. The tickets we purchased a couple of weeks earlier had turned out to be winners. As a skeptic, I refuse to accept the notion that anything is “meant to be” or that “everything happens for a reason”, but I’ll bite my tongue just this once if any of you feel compelled to make such an observation.

After the final pitch we stayed at Fenway and listened to interviews and speeches, and simply basked in the glow for a while longer. The stadium remained as full an hour after the end of the game as it had been during the game itself. When the festivities began to tail off, the time came for all but the most hard-core among us to start leaving the stadium.

When we got outside we were wedged in with the hordes of partiers exiting the local bars. The level of rowdiness went up another notch. We were mostly amused by the scene, at least for a while. It’s all good fun until somebody loses an eye, and we didn’t see anybody lose an eye.

Kim and I, as part of this mass of humanity, were herded off Lansdowne Street to the middle of Brookline Avenue, and then onto Newberry Street, and then Kenmore Street.  I feared, if only a little, that we were behaving too much like lemmings. At least we didn’t have to avoid traffic, because on this night there were no automobiles allowed near the stadium.

Kim doesn’t love these packed crowds, especially when I am navigating in balance mode in the iBot. But that’s the only way I like to move about in mobs. I don’t want my face down at ass level, unable to see what’s going on around me. I want to be standing tall so that I can plot a course.

Out of modesty I’ve refrained from making the following statement before, but I can resist no longer:

I am a highly skilled and slightly badass iBot pilot.

There you have it. If we’re in a mob and you get into my space, I will run over your toes, and it will hurt. But your response when that happens is to apologize to me for your carelessness and insensitivity. That’s apparently how it is supposed to go, because that’s what people keep doing. Kim is an exception. She bites back.

Finally, we were allowed to turn off Kenmore Street onto Commonwealth Ave. Out of nowhere, an obviously stoned Tigger and Eeyore darted in front of us, leaving startled looks and that characteristic aroma in their wake. It was after midnight and technically Halloween by then, so we shouldn’t have been surprised to see characters from storybooks come to life.

Commonwealth is one of the busiest avenues in Boston, but we were walking down the middle of the street, in the middle of the city, in the middle of the night. It was a bit surreal. Eventually we intersected with Massachusetts Avenue, and a few minutes later we arrived at our van. What a welcome sight it was.

On the drive home Kim indicated that she was extremely tired. After all, we had been staying up to watch the Red Sox play these late games for a couple of weeks. I did my best to keep her alert, and we were never so happy as when we pulled into our driveway at 3:00 in the morning. Kim had already informed her school that she wouldn’t be in to work until late on Thursday, and of course everyone understood. There is no more legitimate excuse in New England than “I had to watch the Red Sox win the World Series last night at Fenway Park.”

We will never forget where we were and what we experienced on October 30, 2013. We are so happy that we took the chance on going to the World Series. It could not have worked out better. But these types of outings, especially with the craziness of a World Series elimination game, can be taxing on us. So I don’t think we’ll do it again. Instead, we will scratch “watch the Red Sox win the World Series” off our bucket lists. Next item on mine: “wheelchair skydiving”.

Final Thoughts

Never mind the morality; I can’t even understand the strategy behind terrorism. It seems to create a lot of smoke, blood, and death. But it never advances the cause of the terrorists themselves. After the Boston Marathon bombings earlier this year, what series of events did the bombers foresee, in the wake of their destruction, which could possibly work in their favor? Do Bostonians feel less safe than they used to? Maybe a little. Are they more wary than before? Somewhat, I suppose. But today the people of Boston are more resolute, resilient, and united than ever. Despite the deaths and the maiming, Boston is tougher after the bombings than before, and it was already pretty tough.

As an outsider, living almost 2 hours away, I had the unique opportunity this year to see the city soon after the bombings, and then immediately after the World Series victory. Obviously, the atmosphere could not have been more different.

The passage of time, and the support of family and friends were probably the most important factors in the city’s recovery, but what about the baseball team? What role did they play?

After any tragedy, people need positive distractions. Some distractions can be planned and executed, but often it’s the unexpected ones that are the most effective. How about a last-place team winning game after game, and often in dramatic fashion? How about ballplayers, executives, and owners reaching out into the community, visiting victims, and helping out financially? How about a team honoring heroes and wounded during pregame ceremonies, carving a “B Strong” in their outfield, hanging a 617 jersey in their dugout, and so much more? As the summer wore on, rightly or wrongly, more and more people turned to this baseball team for inspiration, and they provided it.

I’m not saying that if the Red Sox hadn’t been such a good team that Boston would be significantly worse off than it is. But neither can the effect this team had on the city be denied. In the end, the Red Sox provided as much support as they possibly could have, by their compassion and yes, by bringing a championship to Boston that October day.

And on that day Boston healed like never before.

And on that day, Boston was stronger.

Note: It may seem like this blog has turned into the New England Sports Journal, but I assure you after this series of posts I’ll avoid the topic of New England sports for a while. I promise!

Watch the smoke from the fireworks settle down on the field.

Kim and I made it on television.


  1. Great account, buddy. Love your summation of the importance of the Red Sox to the city. Having lived in New York on 9/11, I can attest to the fact that sports can indeed bring a traumatized citizenship together.

    Your description of leaving Fenway through the streets of Boston really made me miss the city. I wonder if any of my other friends were in the stadium that night? Might have to make a few phone calls.

    Anyway, congrats on being there, and not letting your disability get in the Way of participating in a little piece of history. I hope the memories remain fresh in your mind forever, and can you believe I still tear up when thinking about the Sox winning the World Series…

    Thanks for these posts, they were terrific…

  2. Marc, Kim deserves most of the credit for us daring to go out to events like this. She does all the work. I just enjoy the ride ;-)

  3. What a ride these 4 posts have been. Here I am signing in on my cell first thing today so I don't miss anything. What incredible foresight and luck that you decided to go. We are all so happy for Boston! America's own Invictus of a sort...

  4. Thanks for sharing this fantastic story. I've enjoyed every word!