Alex Verdugo is a much better baseball player than any one of the experts in the stands
My 12-year-old son and I were in the center field bleachers for the Red Sox-Rays Labor Day matinee at Fenway Park in Boston yesterday. This was one of the craziest games I have ever seen, let alone gone to. My beloved Red Sox blew a 7-1 lead in the second inning and lost 11-10 in ten innings. Center fielder Alex Verdugo played a part in this one.
Fast forward to the top of the fourth inning. The Rays, down 7-1, loaded the bases with three consecutive singles after two were out. Nelson Cruz lofted a fly ball just to our left as we were looking out. This should have ended the inning, however, Alex Verdugo drifted back, put his glove up in the air, and lost the ball in the sun, getting a glove on it after a desperate, last-second stab. The “drop,” plus a poor relay throw from second base allowed the three runners on base, as well as Cruz, to score. 7-5. The Rays were right back in it. This play was clearly the catalyst for Tampa’s wild comeback.
Red Sox “fans,” obviously disheartened by the turn of events, let Verdugo have it. They shouted obscenities and littered him with boo birds. Verdugo was clearly affected by the reaction of the home fans, as he looked up into the bleachers and appeared to yell back at the lack of encouragement from Red Sox supporters. The play itself haunted Verdugo, who knelt to the ground and hung his head during a subsequent pitching change, while the other outfielders, right fielder Hunter Renfro and left fielder JD Martinez, flanked him in support.
Verdugo was not done being right in the thick of the action. With the Red Sox clinging to a precarious 9-8 lead, Austin Meadows led off the top of the ninth inning by lofting a fly ball to center field. Verdugo went back to the wall and made a gallant leap, just missing the ball, which caromed back toward the infield. Meanwhile, Meadows circled the bases for a rare inside the park home run, tying the game. The fans in the center field bleachers, already cross with Alex from the play in the fourth inning, got on him again, even though Renfro and Martinez did not properly back up the play, which played a huge role in why Meadows was able to come all the way around and score.
While disappointed with the outcome of the game, which was indeed a crushing loss in the thick of a tight pennant race, my real frustration is toward those fans who didn’t let Alex Verdugo forget he cost them the game. I mean, the guy lost a ball in the sun, which was BRUTAL, by the way, and made a hell of an effort on the ninth inning ball. Here is a guy who is so upbeat and likeable being unfairly crucified by a bunch of overweight guys who trip over themselves just trying to get out of their respective aisle for yet another beer run.
Entitled fans are all too common in professional sports. This is especially true in large market, east coast cities, where the mentality is, “What have you done for me lately?” Would those same folks have wildly cheered for Verdugo had he drove in the winning run in the bottom on the ninth? I bet they would, and they would be hypocritical for doing so. Trust me, I was hoping he would get the opportunity, smoke a game winner, celebrate with his teammates, and promptly walk out to center field and flip off his detractors-turned-loyal followers. But alas, the Rays intentionally walked him and he never got the chance.
I watched a video of Verdugo engaging fans in a conversation about hitting earlier this year in Kansas City. There was also the time he had fun with fans at Yankee Stadium (before the incident when he had shit thrown at him). NESN regularly airs a commercial where he robbed a home run and got seriously pumped up afterwards. Alex Verdugo plays the game like a little kid does. The pure joy he displays is infectious. I hope Red Sox fans don’t rob him of this.
I recently hooked back up with a friend that I have known for more than 30 years. He reached out to me after I had run into his wife by chance. I’m sure she told him to call on me, perhaps, because she wanted him to get out of the house!
This guy and I were inseparable in our earlier years. He was the best man at my first wedding, as was I at his wedding. He is still married to the same wonderful lady, whereas I have had a different story. In fact, after the brutal breakup of my first marriage (as mentioned in First Love….), it was he who singlehandedly got me through it.
I hadn’t seen, nor really spoken much to my buddy for several years, even though he lives about five miles from me. You see, he are are are so similar in that we like to our alone time for reflection and dislike talking on the phone. Usually our correspondence consisted of a “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Birthday,” text.
He messaged me and asked if I wanted to go hiking. I was surprised, as, while I love the outdoors, I did not remember him as such a person. I agreed to go, not expecting much more than a quick jaunt through the woods and catching up on mundane things, like, “How’s the job going?” To be honest, I was a little apprehensive, thinking the outing might be a little awkward.
While we did touch on small talk, I got so much more out of our 3.3 miles together. We openly conversed about meaningful life topics, such as what we hope our future brings as we get older. How our children are shaping us. What our fears were going forward. These are the things that can only come out during a peaceful and secluded block of time together. Our old friendly jabs at each other aged well and were in full swing despite the passage of time. We now have plans to hike every two weeks (Hey, we’re old and need recovery time!).
That morning, I learned that I am extremely lucky. I have that special friend that, regardless of how long we have stayed out of touch, we can get back together and not skip a beat. Everyone should have a friend like that. I hope you all do.
O where have you gone, lighthouse keepers? Another murder in technology’s path of destruction. If ever there was a job tailor made for me, this was it.
Can you imagine the sweet isolation of that of a lighthouse keeper? My God, I crave it. I close my eyes and can hear the waves crashing on the rocks below, the seagulls squawking in a rhythmic cadence. The sweet smell of the salty sea air wafts past me. The Platters’ “Harbor Lights” playing softly in the background. Never heard of the Platters? Do yourself a favor.
It’s a life of simplicity, the lighthouse keeper is. Trim the wicks. Wind the clockworks. Clean the lenses. Make sure the fog horn is working. All in a day’s work, while the “office” is above the vast and secluded Atlantic or Pacific.
Nobody talks about the raw deal handed out to the simple lighthouse keeper. Today, I mourn them.
I had a dream about my very first love recently. I’m not sure what triggered it but it came out of nowhere and hit me surprisingly hard. The details were so vividly clear that they had me wondering if I ever really got over her.
She left me 28 years ago. Although it was a brutal breakup at the time, so much life has taken place since that I really haven’t given her much thought at all. I’ve loved, lost, loved again, triumphed, and everything in between. So how come in this dream could I recall her smell and taste her lips when we kissed? Why was I ecstatic to be holding her once again? How did 1991 come back so easily?
When I woke up, she was gone. It was a crushing realization, like she was saying goodbye all over again. I got out of bed and moped around for a while. I played our old wedding song. I recalled memories I hadn’t thought about in decades. I wished her back into my arms. For the first time ever, I tried finding her online. What if I found her? Would it even matter?
Does this happen to everyone? Or am I simply going crazy? Is it a mere blip that will eventually go away? And has this ever happened to her? Is she waking up from a dream right now and thinking about me?