Baseball, Legends & Love

On Friday, June 23, I was fortunate to be among the Red Sox faithful who witnessed the retirement of David Ortiz’s uniform number. Fondly known as “Big Papi,” this larger-than-life star athlete was everything a fan could wish for: clutch player, fun-loving and through it all, remained humble and kind. David is yet another product of the Dominican Republic’s player talent pool and throughout his career, never forgot his homeland. Given my similar roots, I have always favored players from the DR, and of course, particularly those who help keep the home team atop the standings and in championship contention.

Baseball is all about patience and tradition. It takes hours to complete a nine-inning game and more than half a year to proceed from spring training through a World Series. Yet, the rewards for fans are short-lived; we get excited about a win but there’s usually another game within 24 hours. And championships certainly earn bragging rights, but again, they tend to be more impactful in that moment.

That fragile experience is exactly why players like Ortiz are special. Every time they step into the batter’s box, you anticipate a little magic. And quite often, they make the impossible happen. When they’re pushed into the limelight, they instinctually know exactly what to do. What Red Sox fan doesn’t have a mental image of Big Papi’s famous bear hugs or his emotional ballpark comments following the Boston Marathon bombing?

The David Ortiz experience came to an emotional climax last month when friends, family and fans gathered at Fenway to pay tribute to our local hero. The number 34 was ceremonially unveiled above right field, joining nine previous Red Sox and Jackie Robinson as eternal legacies. Several honored guests were invited to offer tributes including former teammates and fellow legends. The comments were festive but perhaps none more heartfelt than second baseman Dustin Pedroia’s observation that what meant most to the team was the great love Big Papi always shared with everyone in the dugout. That simple statement came just before Ortiz spoke to the crowd—and brought tears to his eyes and to those of many throughout the ballpark.

Looking back, we’re forever grateful for the many baseball memories but as every member of Red Sox Nation knows, David Ortiz will continue making us proud for many years to come. Here’s to you, #34!David-Ortiz-Number-Retirement

First Day Predictions

By now, the internet shouting about the “new year, new me” has hopefully died down. I am an optimist by nature and pretty self-disciplined, so don’t feel obliged to start fresh just because the calendar changed. However, I do enjoy considering whether our January 1st experiences are an omen of the year ahead. How did you spend your “first day” and was there anything extraordinary that left you wondering about 2017?

For starters, I slept until 10:30 a.m. – something I haven’t done since college. And no, I can’t say we were out particularly late the prior evening. I must have needed the extra rest, so of course, I wondered if 2017 was going to be a year of catching up on needed sleep. Not a bad start!

Feeling so rested I was motivated to go out for a jog; yes, my pace is slow these days so I can’t honestly use the term “run.” Anyway, as I made my way through the city streets, I approached two still-tipsy men who I actually thought were going to trip me for a laugh. Then I realized they just wanted a fist-bump as they continued on their merry way. Hmm…does this mean 2017 will be a year for chance meetings with happy people?

Next, we decided to attend the last of the local First Night events – an organ concert at an 19th century church. We’re not religious or organ-music fans, but we do walk by this church regularly, so thought it would be a good excuse to check it out. Although I didn’t love all the music, it was entertaining to watch those in attendance, especially the little kids putting their hands over their ears whenever the music was loud (and scary?) and the elderly woman nearly tipped over as she slept through the entire concert. Could this be a foreshadowing of finding humor in unexpected places?

After the concert, we stopped by a restaurant we’ve wanted to try and found two seats at the bar. The bartender apologetically noted that the kitchen had just stopped serving brunch and was transitioning to dinner, so she couldn’t give us menus for 15 minutes. I guess this suggests “beware of bad timing.” We decided to wait it out, however, and eventually enjoyed some tasty appetizers, reminding us that patience is a virtue and that sitting at the bar is more entertaining than a table for two.

The day wound down with the last of the NFL season on our TV competing with Netflix on my tablet. Okay; so another year of multitasking – or competing priorities. My last mobile interactions of the day were texts confirming a family birthday-weekend getaway. I like to think this means we’re in for a year of celebrations.

So to sum it up – more sleep, chance meetings, unexpected humor, timing, patience, multitasking and celebration. Oh – and jogging and good food. I suspect that on December 31, I’ll confirm having lived through these experiences because they’re not particularly extraordinary. But hopefully, they’ll be enjoyable and memorable. May the New Year offer you many good times, both anticipated and unexpected!

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