Back in the saddle

For Big Papa (lifted from who captioned it - AP/File 1940 - and used without permission)

Well, leave the blog alone for a week and the commenting program decides to hold everyone’s comments in limbo.  Sorry about that folks, everyone who commented on the Yankees post got their comments approved and, hopefully, shouldn’t have that issue again.

It’s a little tough to just jump back in.  I’m pretty sure this was the longest hiatus I’ve taken from the blog but, if I’m being honest, the death of my grandfather took a lot out of me and it’s small steps to get back into the groove.

There’s a bit of irony in my last post before he died being about how much I hate the Yankees given that he never hated them.  My grandfather was one of the old Italians who, while not rooted for the Yankees because of Joe DiMaggio (and Yogi Berra!) so he didn’t share the hatred my father and I do.  (He also always held Dom DiMaggio in high regard and would often sing “Who’s better than his brother Joe? Dominick DiMaggio” when we were watching baseball.  If you were Italian you automatically started out on the right foot with my grandfather.)

My grandfather died at home a week ago this morning and it’s been tough all around and watching baseball, which should be my escape from what’s going on, is tough too because that’s something I did with him often.  Still, I have been watching.  My grandfather is getting the best of both his baseball worlds, the Red Sox AND Yankees are winning but the Red Sox are still in first place.  That’s how he liked things.  (It’ll be a little sad not having someone to argue with about the Yankees.  I could never understand his absolute love for David Ortiz but how he would still cheer for a Yankees hit when he saw one.  Old feelings die hard I guess.)

I want to share one story about my grandfather.  I grew up calling him “Papa” but when my generation started having children he became “Big Papa”.  When he and my grandmother retired and moved to Florida back in 1980, they ended up in Winter Haven (at the time, home of the Red Sox spring training) and started going to games during the spring at Chain of Lakes Park.  In 1990, he was up visiting us in Boston and we got tickets to a game on opening week in April because he wanted to see Tony Pena.  So the two of us plus one of my uncles and one of my cousins go to Fenway (my uncle drove in, which I implore anyone going to Fenway never to do if you can help it unless you have a great parking spot mapped out…which we did not).

This is the game we saw.  The Red Sox won and Tony Pena had two runs batted in…but I remember very little of it because the thing that stands out in my mind is my grandfather wanting an ice cream and calling to the ice cream vendor.  The vendor, from about 10 rows below us, throws the ice cream up to my unsuspecting grandfather who, without missing a beat, throws it right back at him and yells to him that he can “bring” it to him like a “normal person”.  My grandfather would not have an ice cream bar thrown at his face.

The kid selling the ice cream approached my grandfather, handed him a different ice cream and apologized.  My cousin and I were horrified, as we knew throwing the food was kind of what they did in the stands, but my grandfather insisted that just because we were at a game didn’t mean people had to act like children.  I think of him every time I see a vendor throwing something to a fan in the stands.

Last night was probably the first game in a week that I’ve watched all the way through.  I can’t begrudge the team a loss, even on a night the Yankees win, after they went 9 in a row without one, but it was especially disappointing given that Tim Wakefield is only 10 wins away from the all-time wins record for the Red Sox and pitched well enough to win last night.  Step it up for Timmeh, fellas.

Beckett and Buchholz and then the guys are back home for interleague play.  And interleague play means time is running out to vote for your Boston Red Sox for the All-Star Game.  Every year I say that I don’t care if our guys get in, that I’d rather they rest for 3 days.  Screw it, I’d like to see the guys get voted in.  Especially (you guessed it) over the Yankees.  So get to work, Nation.

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