Saturday, June 24, 2006

Gabe's Curtain Call

In the process of winning their 7th game in a row, the Sox got incredible production out of the clean-up spot. 4 of 5, 3 homers and a double, for a total of 8 runs batted in during a 10-2 victory over the Phillies. Manny got the first 5, with an RBI double, a solo shot, and a 3-run homer. In the late innings, Gabe Kapler came in as a defensive replacement for Manny and crushed another 3-run homer over the monster. Having worked his ass (and his leg) back after a debilitating Achilles tendon injury, Gabe came in and salted the game away for the Sox. The crowd responded at first with joyous cheers that slowly changed into "We want Gabe! We want Gabe!" The crowd, having one of the most popular back-up outfielders in Sox history back, wanted the curtain call to acknowledge that Gabe was, in fact, back. He would soon oblige, and the crowd met him with resounding cheers as he tipped his cap for us. What a moment. But I couldn't help but think how odd it was that a guy that is little more than a role player on the team could have so much popularity among a city as notoriously hard to win over as Boston. Then I realized something.

Our irrational love of Gabe (and OC, and Lou Merloni, and...) just shows the blueprint for how to be loved in Boston: play the game with the enthusiasm that we all did as a kid. Adults playing a child's game, a child's game that offers joy and emotion to an entire region that wishes they were out under the lights, a region that rises and falls with the ebb and flow of every game from April to October, should enjoy what they do. Kapler exudes that joy, and we love him for it. And he loves playing in Boston, and worked his ass off to get back here after a catastrophic injury; he put in the kind of effort that we would give to have just one AB in Boston under the lights. He rehabbed and worked so hard and so long for the one opportunity that we all fantisized about since we were children playing with a wiffle ball in our back yards. We'll love any player that works so hard to even glimpse the chance of playing in Fenway, playing for the Old Towne Team. We'll love anyone that reminds us why we loved the game so much from the time we were young, and why we'll continue to love it until the day we die. We Boston fans, we're actually pretty simple to figure out when it comes down to it: we'll love you if you love the game as much as we do. Plain and simple. And Gabe does.

Welcome back. We missed you.


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