The 2018 Boston Red Sox: history and what it means to be a fan.

Let us talk baseball for just a minute. Last night the Boston Red Sox won their 106th game this season, and with five more games to go this season, they have the potential to win 111 total. Now I do not believe all of that potential will be realized, they will most likely give up one to the New York Yankees, and as we have two more against the Baltimore Orioles, a team we seem to have a hang up with, despite them being historically bad, the worst team since…well, the 1988 Baltimore Orioles. To their credit, the 1988 version only lost 107 games, while this current roster has lost 111 and has the potential to finish with 116 in the L column. However, the facts are that in 1912, the Boston Red Sox won 105 games, and for 106 years that record stood. The Red Sox have played the game for 118 years, and for 106 of them, the record stood…until last night.

Last night, through out the season really, but ever since last night and through this morning so far, I have seen a lot of posts from supposed fans on social media that lead me to believe, they do not understand the game of baseball. Sure they know there are three bases and a home plate. They probably can name the other positions, a few types of plays, and could even understand which direction the ball is to be thrown to a batter, but these posts tell me they do not understand or have a stake in the souls of this great game.

This Boston Red Sox team is no Murderer’s Row, but they are in the same grouping for this year. This is the 2018 Red Sox, and in a weird way, I’ve realized I’ve probably seen the best season I am ever going to see. If I live to be 100, the history says it probably will not be this good again. If we win the World Series, that will almost guarantee that on my death bed, when I recount the events of my life, I will finish with “…and with my wife and sons (depending on how the World Series goes assuming we got there, my friend Carl) I watched most every game, and listened to some on the radio, of the 2018 Boston Red Sox.”

This season, it is what baseball is about in it’s soul. 1912, let us recap: The Manchu Quing Dynasty ended, Arizona became a U.S. State (last contiguous state), the Ottoman Empire still existed, Oreos were invented, the RMS Titanic Launches, The RMS Titanic sinks, Fenway Park opened, Universal Studios was founded, Wilbur Wright died, Merck filed a patent for ecstasy, vitamins were identified, and amongst others, the Red Sox set what was to be a long standing record for franchise wins in a season.

That is what baseball is, it is history. It is a game of numbers, of dates, statistics, of players, games, owners, seasons and events that weather time in a way that only major historical events do. Hitler and Stalin were evil men, Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb were amazing players. That is baseball. So I despair a bit when I see people saying that none of it will matter if we done win “it all,” or that this season will be forgotten if we do not win the World Series. BASEBALL IS NOT JUST ABOUT THE WORLD SERIES!

Sure, the World Series means plenty. Not entirely sure why we call it the World Series as it is only between teams from America and Canada, even if we do have a mix of players from all over the world (thank you Puerto Rico for the gift that is Alex Cora, your son has brought glory to the game) but it is the championship. I am all in favor of calling it by the name it started with, the fall classic. I do not have the time to recount all of how we got here, go watch “Ken Burns: Baseball.” However, before baseball settled into it’s current form, there was no World Series, and the leagues formed for a variety of reasons, disputes, money, disagreement of rules, etc. however along the way we ended up with two dominant leagues, the American League (mine) and the National League (older of the two.) The first World Series (which Boston won) was played in 1903 and became another part of the great organism that is baseball. It is not the only part.

Firstly, I am a fan of the Boston Red Sox. That is my team. Which means that once they are eliminated from POST SEASON PLAY I then root for the Yankees to get eliminated (kidding…mostly) and will then follow the World Series for it’s historical value, because overall, I am a fan of Major League Baseball. When the Cubs went to the World Series in 2016, I was watching. They are not my team or even my preferred league, but it was history.

So, here’s my breakdown. Watch the season. Pay attention to the records, the plays, and the game itself. Hope for well played games to look back on. As the season starts to wind down, then open up a second, smaller track in your mind for keeping up with if your team will go to post season play. Your still going to need season numbers for that. Like this one, the Boston Red Sox, in the past 20 years, have only won 96 games (or better) and all three times, they went on to win the World Series. If your team makes it to post season play, then your still watching the final games and reading the numbers, like who will they have to face, who will get homefield advantage, which team is the unfortunate second wild card, you will watch all of that, until the season ends. I am happy we are in the play offs, I love that we won the pennant (concern 1.) yes the pennant. Who cares about the World Series until the regular season is over? (Non fans.) We won the pennant three years running. There is divisional play, so I enjoy winning the division.

Now, when the season concludes, for some teams, baseball enters a second phase, POST SEASON PLAY. The season is not just about getting here! The season is what matters. After that we can worry about the World Series. Yes I want us to win in the play offs, yes I want us to go to the World Series, so much so that I will disappoint my wife to the tune of a ticket if they lose two games before I am going to be in Boston, but real fans? They won’t forget this season. We especially won’t forget it if we lost quick in the play offs (it does hurt more because the season was so great) but we will not forget that we watched win 106. The real fans will remember this season, and it will be the yard stick against which all others are to be judged. To those with these social media posts, maintaining the ridiculous position that none of it matters if we do not win it all, can I perhaps recommend you try football? That is unfair though, as you will likely be unwelcome among the fans who freeze their way through games to watch them, if you only watch the super bowl.

My mother in law, is a Braves fan, and she has taken the Red Sox into her heart out of love of my wife and I and our children. She has sat up late texting with me about both teams victories and defeats. She has more fan in her than that Instagram thread could ever aspire to.

If your going to say you love the game, then you are going to need to learn what it is about.

Brandon Bledsoe

Analog Savage.

Baseball: The Greatest (Analog) Game

If there is one thing we love here at Analog savage it is the great American game of Baseball.  Let us get one thing straight right now.  I am saying Baseball is American in origin, not in total distinction, the world has picked it up and ran with it, and I love how far the national pastime has spread.

Baseball has always been there for me.  I remember watching the Braves with my family as a kid.  Those were good, easy times.  I did not play as much ball, organized, as I would like to have now.  Baseball was always best with your friends, out on some crap field, slamming balls in a disorganized fashion.  I don’t think I ever said thank you to the guy who taught me to play catch.  I still can, I have him on Facebook.  Might be to weird for him…

Anyhow, here is why things like baseball are so important.  They are real.  Analog games are real.  I am not here to put down someone’s lifestyle, but give me something real any day.  What makes it real?  It is the other people (if the situation calls for them,) it is the tactile experience, the ability to engage your senses.  Without those things, something is just well, it isn’t real in a way.

Before someone throws down and threatens to get their ninja gear, I have played my share of video games, hell I collect them, any of them that multi-player essentially means you have to be in the same room, cords optional.  I have even played a good amount of World of Warcraft, but that was many moons ago and it isn’t the same, not even close.

Real is the feel of your hands on that wood, the smell of the dirt, that crack that surprises you every time you connect with that smooth ball.  It is the uncomfortable dug out seats, it is your kids squeezing in next to you to ask 5000 questions about the game because they want to be close to you, and they want to love that game on tv.  Real is the sound of a slide, you know the sound, when a human being heading for a base sounds similar to a vehicle stopping on gravel.  Baseball is real, and sorry to have to disappoint, football will never be the national pastime.

My team is the Boston Red Sox.  Being a kid from Soddy Daisy (Chattanooga) Tennessee, we watched the Atlanta Braves.  They were the closest pro team.  My brother in law in South Carolina loves them, and I’m fairly certain it is still a proximity thing.  How did I become a Sox fan?  I did it experiencing the real.

2007, The Savage was in Baghdad, Iraq.  I was walking through the PX on the big base one day while we were there, a real treat mind you, and I came across a sporting goods section.  The base we were on did not even have an American owned store, so this blew my mind.  I was angry that these spoiled people had time for such things.  Then I realized, so did we on our base, and I could not blame them for where they were assigned.  What I could do was buy a bunch of gloves and balls, and surprise the guys with a game of catch.  It became our thing.  We made sure they occupied some odd space in our trucks and when the bigwigs had to talk to the Iraqis leaders for hours, we sometimes tossed ball.  It did not occupy every free second, some of them, if they read this, may not remember doing it, but we did it, and we loved it.

One of those guys was from Boston.  He is a great guy, we are friends now.  We do not speak much, but we are friends, and he could ask me for a going to jail favor today and he would have it.  This is the case because there was a time where we lived the real together.  He may not even know he did this, he may suspect based on my Facebook posts, but he was the one.  We talked baseball, and he told me about the Boston Red Sox, and Fenway park, and the team’s history.  I was sold.  I was hooked just in time to pay attention during the 2007 World Series.   Now The Sox, and Fenway are very important in our house.  We even have a “Fenway Wall” where we chronicle our trips to the park to see games.

We do opening day right too.  There will be more photos at the bottom for that one.  I wrote an entry for the first time we went to see a game at Fenway, my oldest son and I, it is here.  It is about the real.

You get a limited amount of time here.  Do not waste it.  Do not be that person on World of Warcraft with their kids begging them for five minutes attention.  A game of catch transcends gender, it is timeless, and it is the open forum.  You look for a way to connect with someone?  Get to the real, share something real.  Real can be found in some video games, but there is a fine line.

Baseball is the top of the analog games.  It can even involve a television set, because my family and I, my friends and I, we are connected to something during that time.  We get the senses involved, we get the right hats and shirts on.  I even found a way to make it cross lines.  I recently took up scoring games.  What a mind blowing way to get deeper involved, to experience the game on a level I never knew.  We play ball, we collect the cards, we watch games as ritual, but scoring a game was like a drug.  Try it sometime.  Learning how may be a little daunting, the best advice I can give, to clarify the tutorials, just score your team.

I want you to know the beauty of the real, of the analog, and baseball is as good a place to start as any.  Go to a game, eat a hot dog, play catch with your kids and neighbor, have an old worn out glove and stick of American Ash cut in Louisville you write your story on.

Baseball was best summed up in the movie “Field of Dreams” by James Earl Jones’s character Terrence Mann, “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again.”

I have talked enough, but here I will leave you with some resources for more on the greatest game in the world, and some summations of my take on ball.  Never forget, the first point and most important point is to experience baseball, then read about it and watch movies as it invades your soul.

  • Bats are made of wood, and Louisville Slugger is the best
  • The Art of Manliness made an awesome post about the 15 Best Baseball Movies, no need for me to re write it.
  • Here is some nifty info and a good score card download
  • Doping can and should be fought
  • I do not care about the designated hitter rule
  • Baseball cards have proliferated into madness, but Topps is best
  • The evidence says Joe didn’t do it, and it would be amazing to see him reinstated 100 years later
  • The best feeling is when the ball lands in glove
  • If it is not fun, stop playing, but never forget that you are there to win.
  • There will be a last game of catch, don’t let it be because you said no too many times and they stopped asking.

Ganger-Bjorn, The Analog Savage

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