INVITATION TO OPPORTUNITY
I write this letter as a life-long Red Sox fan. These thoughts and opinions belong solely to me, but I would guess that they echo the sentiments of many in Red Sox Nation.
Lately your team cannot escape criticism and controversy. Every day another disparaging headline clouds the sports page. But underneath the mire exists an extraordinary opportunity born out of history, devotion, and dedication. I invite you to digest and make your own determinations.
A dark cloud hovers over the last year. The media has written a narrative about beer and chicken, spoiled players, and out-of-touch managers. The melodrama offers juicy explanation for epic collapses, organizational friction, and continued underachievement.
The lack of winning during this time period is regrettable, but so is the manner in which it’s been covered. Maybe media and fans that ravenously consume and fume over these stories have overstepped our bounds. Maybe we care too much.
But for every written and audible jeer there exists dozens more stories of faith. Our passion stems from generations of loyalty. The recent passing of Johnny Pesky causes me to reminisce. I may have never seen the man play, but I know that he led the majors in hits, that he hooked the ball around the right field foul pole, and that his number 6 hangs for all to see. My parents and grandparents passed down these vivid stories along with countless others. These same grandparents, after decades in the grandstand, never lived to see ultimate redemption in 2004.
People all across New England share that same unique passion. This passion hands you an opportunity. You are the lifeblood of the region. In any storefront or bar on any summer night a stranger will approach me to ask, “How’re the Sox doing?” or “Who’s pitching tonight?” The collective mood of millions can shift with one pitch in the bottom of the ninth.
Fans and team forge an imperfect marriage, but both parties are blessed to have each other. Knowledgeable, passionate fans pack legendary Fenway Park every night to root on the hometown team. And we, the enchanted enthusiasts, are gifted with world-class players, progressive executives, and resourceful ownership.
Forgive us if we tend to romanticize ballplayers or sensationalize their travails. The memories of a crisp double play or a clutch strikeout evoke joy. A shortsighted trade or internal squabble can induce despair. When things go wrong we tend to take it personally.
Conversely, for the men on the field, this is your profession. To that end, I would ask the Red Sox for an increased sense of professional integrity. Professionals in all walks of life approach their jobs with a sense of pride. A teacher lauds the accomplishments of her students. A police officer relishes the safe streets he works to protect. Similarly, you should strive to dig that groundball, prepare for a new hitter, or collaborate with your manager. I applaud your efforts to these ends, but also ask you to remember your unique opportunity.
The 2012 Red Sox may not live up to expectations. But we as fans (and maybe even the media) will always love you. You’re the nourishment for our yearning and erring souls. We don’t expect World Series rings every year. But we know you’re capable of much, much more.
If you make an error, throw a wild pitch, or overrun 2nd base, think about the next play. If you lose a game, finish below .500, or miss the playoffs, think about next season. If you cast blame, instead look within. Failure leads to success. Reflect on what went wrong and come back better than ever.
You still possess a unique opportunity. I implore you to seize it.
BE SURE TO FOLLOW CRAIG FERRARO ON TWITTER @CraigFerraro
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