Boy did I have a good time Friday night.
Dear friend and voice of the New Britain Rock Cats invited me back for an on-the-field, pregame interview to reminisce about my 15 years covering the team. With time to roam around instead of working, I ran into some old friends and enjoyed some great conversation.
But even more enjoyable was watching the Oakland A’s pulverize the Red Sox. As those who are closest to me are well aware, I’ve been rooting for the A’s since 1960. I truly enjoyed the great times – the World Series conquests in 1972, 1973 and 1974, and the Earthquake Series in 1989 – but they were all but curtailed as Major League Baseball went into its rich-get-richer phase.
I can’t fully explain the miracle that has Oakland at 74-57 and battling for a playoff spot after losing slugger Josh Willingham, top-notch starters Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, and All-Star closer Andrew Bailey. And then there’s the Red Sox.
The members of so-called Red Sox Nation who were populating stadiums across the league have suddenly either thinned out or stopped wearing their Sox garb since the team has fallen on hard times. Suddenly, the Sox phenomenon has reverted back to the pre-2004 days when the Sox were still in search of their first World Series success since 1918.
It’s not like I detest any of the Red Sox players. I interviewed many of them when they were coming through the Eastern League and I still cover the Portland Sea Dogs for the Portland Press Herald when the team visits New Britain. David Ortiz was one of my favorite Rock Cats, and I think he is one of the most colorful, fun-loving players I’ve ever seen play.
It’s just the overspending, and holier-than-thou attitude that permeates the fan base and has them believing that winning 95 games every year is their birthright. The Sox fans snickered when they snared Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney in the offseason for outfielder Josh Riddick, first-base prospect Miles Head and pitcher Raul Alcantara.
Well get a load of Friday night’s results. Oakland 20, Boston 2. Reddick went 2-for-5 with a grand slam and a double. Sox castoff first baseman Brandon Moss went 4-for-5, scored four times and smacked a homer and two doubles. George Kottaras, a backup catcher who spent time in the Sox chain, went 3-for-5, scored three runs and hit two homers.
Oakland-turned-Sox reliever Craig Breslow yielded five runs in 1/3 of an inning.
I watched right until the final out, savoring it almost as much as when the A’s beat Boston in the 1989 ALCS. The A’s have now won six straight against the Sox. One Sox fan in attendance in Oakland wore a brown bag over his head.
To cap off a satisfying night, my equally beloved Cincinnati Reds extended their lead in the National League Central to 9 ½ games and are on the verge of welcoming Joey Votto back from knee surgery. Plus, the bloated payroll powerhouse in the Bronx were dashed by the Orioles, who don’t look like they’re giving up. A’s win, Reds win, Sox lose, Yankees lose? August 31, 2012.
Sometimes those baseball gods ride shotgun right next to you, but like the nature of the game itself, they’re likely to turn on you any time. I hope they’ll hang with me through the beginning of November, and then I’ll hope their football colleagues will take their place by my side and guide the Giants to another Super Bowl championship.