And there’s been a lot of broken dreams

Kelly O'Connor took this photo of Greg Montalbano at the Lowell Spinner's Alumni Dinner in January 2009 (Used with permission)

We lost Greg Montalbano in 2009. Â Kelly O'Connor took this photo of him at the Lowell Spinner's Alumni Dinner in January 2009 (Used with permission)

Just a note of warning:  This entry is long and although I want it to be all-encompassing, I’m sure I’ve missed  few things.  But this is pretty much how I remember 2009!


2009 was a fairly eventful year for me personally in both the good and bad categories.  Sadly more bad than good which is probably why I initially avoided writing any kind of recap for the blog.  But while I was writing my recap of the Red Sox decade (and I’ll have that up as soon as I finish it!) I realized I should probably write something about the final year of the decade as well.  So here goes.

January:  I started blogging at  Looking back on my entries for this month, I’m genuinely surprised I found so much to write about (it didn’t stop new readers from complaining that I was writing “drivel” though.  Should have been a sign!).  Personal highlights in January:  The ongoing Jason Varitek saga, the signing of Rocco Baldelli, Kyle Snyder getting picked up by the Mets, the beginning of the MLB Network and Jim Rice finally gets voted into the Hall of Fame!

February:  Bombshell of bombshells for MLB.  Selena Roberts exposes Alex Rodriguez as a steroid user.  The MLB Network cuts its teeth on this one and, unlike Peter Gammons and ESPN, doesn’t disappoint with their coverage.  Unafraid of losing access to the players (again, unlike Peter Gammons or ESPN), they go full throttle on this story and introduce us to their newest addition to the network:  Bob Costas.  I wrote a lot about MLBN in 2009 and a bit about Sl*ppy.  I would have written much less about the two, most likely, had this story not broken.  Personal highlights in February:  The Caribbean World Series on MLBN (I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed it!), Truck Day, pitchers and catchers reporting and Joe Torre’s book about the Yankees.

Chapter 10: The End of the Curse. When asked by Regis Philbin the other day what happened to the Yankees over the past 7 years, Joe responded “The Red Sox happened”. That will go down as possibly my favorite Red Sox/Yankee-related quote ever.

March:  I spent a lot of March writing ‘rants’ and pointing folks toward baseball-related Twitter accounts.  Must have been resting up for April!  Personal highlight in March:  The WBC.  I spent a lot of time ranting about players getting hurt and how I didn’t care who won only to be totally sucked into it by the end.

April:   The beginning of the season!  Lots of liveblogging and picking up more WEEI readers (with mixed results!).  Personal highlights in April:  Going to both Sox/Mets exhibition games at CitiField, attending Opening Day at Fenway and high-fiving JD Drew and Hideki Okajima during their introductions, being at Fenway for the walk-off win against the Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury stealing home on Andy Pettitte, Tim Wakefield taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning (thus setting the table for his All Star selection), watching Jonathan Van Every pitch while Javier Lopez floundered in right field then eventually getting DFA’d (watched on television, not in person), the Patriots Day game where Luke Scott got all pissy and some idiot fan threw a ball onto  the field and “Toeing the Rubber” getting nominated for a New England Sports Blog Award in the category “Best Red Sox Blog”. Relatively speaking, a great month except for one thing that really hit the baseball world hard and made the month miserable:  the death of Nick Adenhart.

But I don’t cry because of any personal connection I have to Nick. I don’t cry because a future baseball star is dead. I cry because parents lost a son today. Many people lost a friend. And the world lost someone who could have potentially been great. Not just at baseball but at life. No drunken ass has the right to take that away from us. This doesn’t “put things into perspective” for me. I hate when people say that. I’m forty years old for God’s sake, I’ve seen enough death and tragedy in my life to have proper perspective, thank you. I don’t watch baseball and think that what goes on down on that field is life or death and more important than anything else in my life. I’d argue that most sports fans, even if they act like they have no perspective, have exactly that. Baseball is an outlet to forget about the realities of life for a few hours.

May: Getting to see Daniel Bard’s first Major League appearance (after having seen him pitch in Pawtucket) was very special.  Finding out that Jerry Remy was recovering from cancer was sad and a little frightening.  Personal highlights in May:  Seeing Kyle Snyder with the Bisons at Pawtucket, Javier Lopez signing Steve the Ferret’s “Lopez” jersey (also at Pawtucket), Aubrey Huff fistpumping to Joba Chamberlain, appearing on “The Baseball Show” on Comcast SportsNet, crying (literally crying) over Big Papi’s first home run of the season, getting to meet metsgrrl and “paloozaing” with a huge group of people I love during the Mets/Sox series at Fenway.

Yesterday was an amazing day spent with friends (most of whom I haven’t seen in quite a while or hadn’t met yet!). There are many amazing tales to tell (but not here!) – my favorite being when our friend Susan noted that we could start singing “O Canada” except no one knows the words past “O Canada!”. Standing up and singing loudly and proudly, a group of us proved her wrong. That our serenade didn’t get us thrown out still kind of surprises me.

June:  This month brought us the end of interleague play, the end of Jonathan Van Every’s season (thanks to knee surgery), Tim Wakefield hitting ten victories with his torn labrum, John Smoltz making us all wonder why we were so excited to have him on the team while Dusty Brown makes his major league debut.  Personal highlights for June:  Derek Lowe returning to Fenway with the Braves, Nick Green’s walkoff against those same Braves, sitting in Fenway during a mind-numbing rain delayed game that turned into a loss for the Sox (okay, that one is a lowlight, really) and the Sox capping off 7 wins in a row against the Yankees with an eighth.

July:  Tim Wakefield at the All Star Game!  Sure, he didn’t get to play and I got plenty cranky about it but at least he was there.  On more serious notes, the Nation worried along with Dustin Pedroia while his wife struggled with her pregnancy, Erin Andrews found out some asshole was taping her through a peephole while she was in her hotel room and we found out that David Ortiz was on “the list” of players who were “caught” using PEDs.  I’m still in the camp that believes Papi’s explanation of it all and that’s pretty much all I need to say about that.  Personal highlights for July:  Along with Wake at the ASG, Mark Buehrle throwing a no-hitter, Jonathan Van Every leaving the Red Sox organization, Julio Lugo getting DFA’d, John Henry pissing off the Yankees and their fans on Twitter, Jim Rice FINALLY getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, seeing Wake chosen for the ASG live at Fenway, Nomar returning to Fenway and showing us the love and, of course, my leaving Folks still ask me about my leaving EEI.  There’s really not much to say except it was the right decision for me.  I learned a valuable lesson in 2009:  “Be careful what you’re dreaming ’cause it someday may come true”.

I will respond to something left in the comments last night: Finding my inbox almost every morning with emails from people calling me cow and c*nt didn’t help things and someone can only ignore that for so long. Thankfully, the emails (and comments) all seem to come from the same group of people so I certainly don’t blame the entire readership of WEEI for the small minds of less than a handful of idiots. Insulting my writing or what I’m writing about is one thing but the personal attacks were the kind I’ve never received before (especially for such a prolonged period of time). I’m fully aware that it’s no coincidence the really vile stuff started coming after I was thrust into the faces of WEEI listeners. I was wary of entering the contest because of the reputations of some WEEI personalities and their listeners. It was a concern even before I entered the contest but I decided it was worth giving the situation and people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe I was hoping those people couldn’t read and would stay isolated within the confines of the radio station – I don’t know. I dealt with it the best I could for as along as I could but in the end, yeah, it helped make my decision easier but it isn’t close to being the only reason I decided to leave. WEEI gave me a chance to expand my audience and become more well-known. It worked in a sense and while I’m appreciative for the opportunity I’m also reminded that sometimes you have to be careful for what you wish for.

August: Road trip to Baltimore the weekend of the trade deadline. Billy Wagner and Victor Martinez now wearing Red Sox.  It happened on July 31st, but August had Sox fans contending with the loss of Justin Masterson – which was a lot more difficult to do than some of us would have thought.  Personal highlights for August: Jerry Remy returning to the booth!  Paul Byrd pitching so wonderfully on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, NICK GREEN PITCHING, a marathon game that I live blogged ending with a Papi walk off, and getting to see the Red Sox beat the Yankees in person on a Saturday that was marred by the sad news of Greg Montalbano’s death.

September:  I make a trek to the new Yankee Stadium and see Derek Jeter tie Lou Gehrig for the Yankees all-time hits record (and enjoy my first $18 Mai Tai).  Personal highlights for September:  See, short of the Sox making it into the playoffs, September was not really a fun month.  Jon Lester got hit by a line drive.  Sure he was fine, but that didn’t take away from the feeling that we were watching the team and possibly one of the team’s best players, go down in a heap for the rest of the season.  Manny Delcarmen?  Good lord, I’m one of his biggest fans and even I was hoping he’d get pneumonia or something – anything to keep him from getting into a game.   Daisuke Matsuzaka, on the other hand, out all season, had a relatively triumphant return, upsetting most Boston sports writers who had to throw away their “We knew he’d fail” pieces they wrote before the game.  I was happy to see September go but that was only because I didn’t realize what October had in store for us.

October:  Sox get booted out of the playoffs in three games.  The last of which I witness at Fenway.  Personal highlights:  Who are we kidding?  Sitting in Fenway and watching the Sox fritter away a lead in the ninth thanks to a Papelbon meltdown was the final kick in the teeth to a frustrating season.  In retrospect, the series was lost not in that ninth inning but in the other two losses where the team couldn’t get it together – and we should have been grateful that they saved us the pain of watching them do the same in either the ALCS or, worse, the World Series.  Pedro pitching well his first time back at Yankee Stadium with the Phillies was nice.  Again, who am I kidding?  October really did suck.

November:  The Yankees beat the Phillies to win their first World Series of the new millennium.  Is there really anything else to say?  Okay, personal highlights for November:  Joe Mauer winning the AL MVP, Zack Greinke winning the AL CY Young and Mike Scioscia winning the AL Manager of the Year.

December:  The answer is,  Marco Scutaro, Mike Cameron and John Lackey.  The question?  Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?  Or you could go with What players have made me look forward to the 2010 season?  I liked our team in 2009, with these guys on the team I REALLY like our team in 2010.  Personal highlights, such as they are, for December:  The Mike Lowell opera.  I think it’s fair to say it wore us all out.  And Jason Bay to the Mets?  Not exactly the way I wanted to see the year end, but as long as he isn’t playing for the team in the Bronx, I’ll find a way to get by.

If anything, I feel like the year ended on a hopeful note.  Scutaro and Cameron might not be the superstars some folks were hoping Theo picked up, but they’ll do their jobs nicely.  And I am absolutely giddy to see John Lackey take the mound at Fenway for the hometown team. 2009 was alternately exciting and painful and I’ll admit to being pleased as punch to see it go.  Bring on 2010 and the possibilities it will bring!

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