Thursday, September 29, 2011

And so it goes.

I woke early this morning after dreaming I bit Joe Girardi. (It helped. I endorse this method of therapy.)

Here's the thing. So many pontificate on "good on paper isn't worth any more than the paper it's written on," but this team? Actually *was* as good as they looked on paper. And we saw it from May through August. It's so easy to focus on how horrifically the wheels came off as the calendar flipped to September. The September and April versions of this team were tragic underachievers. We expected more of them, not because they looked good on paper, but because they *showed* us their collective worth for the bulk of the season. This stings so much today, not because they disappointed us all season, but because they *were* exactly who we thought they were, when we grew hoarse cheering them on through the heart of Summer.

I wish I could put my finger on what went wrong, if only to understand how a team turned from light to dark as easily as we flip a switch. They were awesome...until they weren't. It is the seemingly inexplicable change that confounds, that leaves us slack-jawed in bewilderment, wondering how it all comes unglued without warning--no cascading scroll of damaged players, no clubhouse drama to distract, no glaring hole left unaddressed. There are many demanding a scapegoat, some kind of symbolic head on a stake, but there isn't any one person to blame here. (This "Fire Tito" talk defies logic. Do you have a list of managers you'd like better? I don't.) They were fabulous as a team...and they crumbled as a whole. In the end, they simply beat themselves. Truth be told, after the way September went, last night's season ending didn't really come as that much of a shock as the media is portraying, if you're deep-down honest with yourself.

Maybe this is all just a cyclical molting, a shedding of the bandwagon, culling out the half-hearted & the "pink." Those who remain are those who have always remained, arms encircling the newly initiated. This is their rite of passage, for, it seems, we all must have our hearts crushed & persevere to prove we bleed Red. Those of us who have survived our heartbreaks in seasons long since archived nod knowingly to one another. We've been there. And here we are still. Because we don't love our team less. Instead, we love them more. As a friend of mine so aptly stated, "Dear Red Sox, my heart was yours to break." Was and still is.

What the fresh-faced class of 2011 does not yet know is the unique thrill of victory following this kind of staggering loss. But for the 85 years of defeat, culminating in the agony of 2003, we were rewarded with the exhilaration of 2004, something that can never be replicated, let alone exceeded. (Truly, *nothing*, will ever top that, but for those who were not yet one of us, find yourself a copy of Faith Rewarded, you'll still appreciate it now, I assure you.) For the broken team of 2006, we received the glory days of 2007. I thought, perhaps, injury-plagued 2010 would be paid off by the team assembled in 2011, but, in retrospect, 2010 wasn't really painful enough (for us--definitely painful for those physically involved) to warrant the spoils. There really is nothing like suffering the end of your season not once, but twice, in under three minutes, though. (That's a new one. Consider us old-timers freshly renewed in our credentials.) What we do now is cling to the belief that better days are within sight. That's just how it works here, in the post-2004 times -- cynical, but with a healthy dose of hope the previous generations of Sox fans never had.

To my 2011 Red Sox:

Josh Beckett: I've had such a love-hate relationship with you since you arrived in Boston. You're like that high school boy I know I shouldn't date, but every time we fight, I still find myself wanting to make up. Right now, we're securely in the love-side of things.

Jon Lester: I know there are some doubters. I wear your jersey with pride.

Clay Buchholz: You were sorely missed. Rest up. Heal well. I wish we could have seen you healthy for this entire season, because you were pure joy to watch while we had the opportunity.

Tim Wakefield: I've known no greater joy than a knuckleball dancing merrily, eluding even the most potent of bats, swatting madly at the butterfly. I don't have words for how much I wanted you to have number 200 and I am so glad that you do.

John Lackey: [unsuitable for print] ps. I know, I know. You wanted that pitch, he could have caught that if he'd really tried, and no one better dare emerge from that dugout with the intention of taking the ball from your hand, even if they have to collect it from your arm, which came unhinged and is lying somewhere in the vicinity of the visiting team's on-deck circle.

Diasuke Matsuzaka: I hope your shoulder is ready for 2013. After your contract expires.

Erik Bedard: I've always had a little soft spot for you. I don't know where 2012 will find you, but if it's somewhere in our organization, I'm ok with that.

Dan Wheeler: I hope we pick up your option. I don't think we saw enough of you to fully appreciate what you bring to the pen.

Rich Hill: I hope we haven't seen the last of you. I was heartily saddened when the news of your season-ending surgery was released. Reliable lefties are like unicorns, it often seems.

Daniel Bard: We all struggle. Let it make you stronger for having survived it. Don't let it rot your brain. You're better than the last month.

Jonathan Papelbon: It's no secret you've never been my favorite. They're going to try to pin this on you, because you held the ball last. I don't. It was a team loss.

Scott Atchison: You are such a quietly dependable guy. It didn't go totally unnoticed. On the other side of a television screen, somewhere in the middle of Florida, a girl squealed "Atch!!" every time you started warming.

Alfredo Aceves: I am afraid I lack the words to express what I feel. For someone deemed a health risk, you were a horse. You went the distance several times over, you immersed yourself in what it means to be a Sock from day one, and if I get to laugh at your antics in the coming seasons, I promise I won't forget how much you gave this team. You are not human, with that gargantuan effort--it sure felt like you pitched in all 162 games. I'm not sure *what* you are, other than bat poo crazy. But you're a welcome addition to my 2012 team if that's the deal that shakes out.

Franklin Morales: Your pick-off move to first base is sweet, sweet music. Like Mr Miyagi with the chopsticks and the fly.

Tek: I don't know what the future holds, but you will always be the Captain. I really hope you retire one of us, where you belong.

Salty: I didn't know what to think of you when you arrived in 2010. I remained skeptical as the team gathered at The Fort. You're one of us now.

Ryan Lavarnway: I look forward to the day you take your final Pawtucket shuttle to the Fens, whenever that may be.

Papi: I don't know what magician's hat you pulled your 2011 bat out of, but thank you for that.

JD Drew: You had a lot of detractors. I was one of them. I haven't been for a long time. I never forgot what you did in 2007. I know, better than most, that quiet doesn't mean apathetic.

Youk: Ouch, buddy. Feel better. We missed you all season long.

Mike Aviles: I appreciate your enthusiasm. I'm sorry we showed you something far more ugly than what you had in Kansas City. I'm sure you weren't expecting that. I hope you get to stick around on our bench to see something more in line with what you thought your trade here would bring.

Josh Reddick: I don't know if we'll see you or Ryan Kalish, someone yet unknown, or some combination thereof patrolling right field, but you've come a long way kid.

Mumbles: I know everyone is screaming viciously about your contract. I wasn't at the top of the list of people who were tickled when it happened. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm rooting for you. I haven't given up. Boston is nothing like the Juice Box, is it? It's a lot to take in. A lot of pressure to have fans who actually show up and care. You get a hall pass for 2011. Let's see the real Carl Crawford in 2012, ok?

Scoot: If ever there was an unsung hero on this team, among all the glittery big names, the loud mouths and the overpowering personalities... I'm all for your club option being taken.

Adrian Gonzalez: If 2011 was you at eighty percent, still recovering from shoulder surgery, man, oh man. I can't wait to see what you have in store for us.

Ells: I have *never* been so wrong. I wrote you off as just another diva outfielder made of glass. You came out swinging to the tune of a career year, showing MVP-caliber play (whether you get it or not), slinging yourself around centerfield like you were coated in titanium and wearing a super hero cape. I will eat my 2010 criticism with pleasure. I'm sorry you chose Scott Bor@$$ to represent you, but I hope there's a way we can keep you right here in Boston, even if that number comes with a luxury tax and an obscene number of zeros.

Pedey: Everyone talks about your stature. What I want to know is how a body that miniature holds that much heart. I picture you kind of like Atlas, but with Fenway Park hoisted on your shoulders. You talk the talk, and then you walk the walk even better than you say you will. You make plays in the field that defy physics, logic and belief, even when I see them in replay from six different angles *and* in slow motion. On the day Tek passes off his C, whether you wear one there or not, I will see it burned over your heart.

I don't know what 2012 will bring (though I pray it includes Tito at the helm and Don Orsillo's cracking voice & giggle fits), but I know this:

I will be ready. 162 games is never enough. Nevah evah.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: September 26, 2011

Monday: Cheeseburgers and some mac & cheese.
Tuesday: Marinated pork roast in the Crockpot with Classic Green Bean Casserole.
Wednesday: Pizza.
Thursday: Barbecue chicken, basked potatoes and corn.
Friday: Tuna casserole.
Saturday: Food & Wine Fest: Round One.
Sunday: Leftovers.

Notes from last week's menu: We stayed right on track. I am not sure if it is just that we are that awesome at menu planning or if we're just too lazy to deviate from the menu as it is. Heh.

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: September 19, 2011

Monday: I am meeting a friend for dinner, so T will be fending for himself.
Tuesday: Fish on the grill, (new recipe!) Baked Summer Squash and some boiled potatoes.
Wednesday: Breaded chicken breasts and Pesto Angel Hair with Broccoli.
Thursday: Cheddar dogs, chips and a pickle.
Friday: Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread and a salad.
Saturday: New England Clam Chowder.
Sunday: Leftovers.

Notes from last week's menu: Other than swapping Saturday & Sundat, we stuck right to the menu!

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: September 12, 2011

Monday: Stuffed Shells, garlic bread and salad.
Tuesday: BLTs.
Wednesday: Scalloped Potatoes and Ham with a salad.
Thursday: Chicken (marinated in a balsamic herb marinade) on the grill, noodles and zucchini squash.
Friday: Steak on the grill, broccoli and Cheesy Potatoes.
Saturday: Kielbasa, pierogies and sauerkraut.
Sunday: Leftovers.

Notes from last week's menu: The only change ended up being that we skipped the subs on Saturday because we still had plenty of leftovers on hand that needed to be eaten.

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!


Monday, September 5, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: September 5, 2011

Monday: Cheeseburgers, Cucumbers in Sour cream and tater tots.
Tuesday: Zesty Calzones and a salad.
Wednesday: Parmesan chicken fingers, Zesty Potato Salad and baby sweet peas.
Thursday: Ravioli with ground sausage, salad and garlic bread.
Friday: Shepherd's Pie.
Saturday: Subs from the Publix deli.
Sunday: Grilled ham & cheese sandwiches.

Notes from last week's menu: There weren't any changes to note. We stuck right to the plan.

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: August 2011

A photo of me:

1) Candle scents this month:
Honeydew Melon. Mountain Lake. Kiwi Berries.

2) What I am reading this month:
Still reading Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand). Closing in on the last part though!

3) Top three songs I was drawn to:
"Some People," by Leann Rimes. "I Just Call You Mine," by Martina McBride. "Edge of Desire," by John Mayer.

4) Movies I saw:
No time for movies. It's baseball season!

5) Favorite tv moments of the month:
The Jacoby Ellsbury walkoff home run on August 3, even though I cringed as they beat the heck out of him when he reached home plate.

6) Something yummy I made:
I made some very tasty cinnamon crumb coffee cake. Lasted me a whole week for my mid-morning snack!

7) Restaurants where I ate:
Miller's Ale House. Boston Lobster Feast. Five Guys. Aloha Isle. The Terrace Grill.

8) Five things I am loving this month:
1. Marco Rubio's speech on the Senate Floor: "If my house is on fire, I can't compromise about which part of the house I'm going to save. You save the whole house or it will all burn down." 2. The Red Sox "clinching" the season series against the Yankees for 2011, taking ten of the first 12 games played! 3.Lists. 4. The Red Sox bats! Wow!! 5. The fact that I can play my iPod through my car stereo.

9) A goal I had for this month:
To not wilt from the never-ending Summer?

10) This month I looked forward to:
Not much, really. It was kind of a low-key month.

11) Something I want to be thankful for this month:
I feel extremely fortunate that, in the present economy, my employer is thriving.

12) A photo I took this month:
I *know* I took photos in August. They cannot possibly still be on my camera...could they?


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