Voices from the Marathon

Stories from the folks at work today (with names redacted).

From a woman whose son ran:

What started off a beautiful day turned out surreal and frightening beyond belief. I was at the finish line to watch my son who was running for Mass Mentoring.  At that time, the runners were charity runners.   I was happy that I found a front row spot right at the street barricade on boylston between lord and taylor and the Lenox Hotel. The two bombs exploded right in front of us, at street level, one to the right and one to the left.  We could see people falling and injured , and as the crowds ran to the middle of the street,  we were left staggering in the middle of boylston street not knowing where to go and afraid that another bomb would go off.  We also could not find family members.  There was no way to call anyone, but my husband climbed a pole and found me and then we found my daughter in law who had been on the bleachers. but still no clue where my son was.   He was 3/4 of a mile from the finish line when they stopped the race.  Luckily some kind college students took him into their building and gave him a plastic blanket and some water and the use of their cell phone. We retrieved him from 400 comm ave and walked to Brookline.   We waited for transport home.  Thankfully we are all safe, but so very sad that some people who were standing not too far from me have been hurt or worse.

From a guy whose wife’s cousin was running:

I drove to MIT and walked over the bridge into Back Bay to guide my (wife’s) cousin and her husband back to my car. This was her second Boston Marathon. Due to some cramping, she was running behind her target pace, which is a good thing. Her target time would have put her at the finish line when the blasts occurred. Instead, her race ended at Mass Ave. From there she walked off the course and down to the Public Garden area to meet her husband.

She is full of praise for the residents of Boston, the race fans, and the other runners. While people at the blast site were understandably shocked, confused, and frightened, in the surrounding blocks the prevailing mood was one of calm, competent support and care. One resident came out of her apartment and handed her a thick comforter to keep warm in, asking only that she leave it on her stoop later if it was convenient, or just keep it if not.  This was not an isolated event, as residents throughout the area offered food, water, warmth, phones, and the like to anyone in need.  I spoke with a number of runners as I walked to the corner of Berkeley and Commonwealth. They were sad, and caring for each other, exchanging what news they had, and universally determined to run the next marathon to keep the bastards from winning.

From what I saw, law enforcement was firm yet polite about controlling the boundaries of the secured area, and as helpful as they could be given the circumstances and their necessary priorities. Since I wasn’t trying to get into the controlled area (few if any people seemed to be doing that), I walked mostly on Marlborough, a few blocks away or on Commonwealth Ave, and so can’t say anything about the immediate scene of the bombing. But from what I saw in the neighborhood, we should be proud to live and work near such a great city.  These are good people. who rise to face down the worst, and to help each other.

From one of our editors:

I was standing in front of LensCrafters, just a couple of doors down from Marathon Sports, where the first bomb went off. Fortunately, my buddy and I took a break for lunch about 1/1:30 and then left that area around 2/2:30. The bomb went off at 2:50.

He was in Harvard Square when I texted him to see if he was okay. He had no idea what had happened.  He was able to respond to me; soon his phone was lighting up with texts, but the network was overloaded and he couldn’t respond.  He listened to the events on the radio at a newsdealer in the Square for a while and ran into a Kenyan runner who had finished the race, and then for some unknown reason decided to run the five miles or so to Harvard Square after the bombs went off.  Very strange.

Here is a jersey hanging in the Red Sox dugout tonight; 617 is the Boston area code:

The Red Sox season starts tomorrow — should I care?

The 2012 was a debacle and an atrocity, topped in recent times only by the debacle and atrocity that was the 2011 season.  The 2013 season has got to be better, if only because we won’t have to put up with Carl Crawford swinging and missing at pitches down around his ankles, with Dice-K nibbling at the corners and reaching 100 pitches by the fourth inning, with Adrian Gonzalez failing to deliver in clutch situations…  And there’s every hope that Jon Lester will quit being such a grouch, and Ellsbury will quit being injured, and Stephen Drew will turn out to have a little more life in him than his older brother…

Still, there’s precious little reason to think the Red Sox are going to create much excitement this season.  Mike Napoli and Ryan Dempster and Jonny Gomes may be good players and good guys in the locker room, but they aren’t going to sell tickets and make you turn on NESN.

Here’s the guy who is going to sell tickets:

That would be Jackie Bradley Jr.  Is it too much to hope that he will give us reason to hope?  Probably.  Still, I’ve changed my header image, at least till the home opener.  It happens every spring.

The greatest trade in the history of the multiverse

Is there a bigger place than the multiverse?

The woman at work with the Red Sox lunchbox came over to me late Friday afternoon and said: “Beckett.  Waivers.  The Dodgers.”  The news was too important for verbs.

But wait, there’s more — Gonzalez!  Crawford!  Punto!  (But wait, we like Punto.)

It couldn’t possibly happen — something was bound to go wrong.  But as I type, Boston.com is reporting that the deal has been finalized.  The Red Sox save $275 million in contract obligations and clear out three players who had either worn out their welcome with the fans or just couldn’t play in Boston.  They’re now in another league, on another coast.  Good luck to them!

Who’d we get in return?  Mostly prospects.  But that doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that Ben Cherington has somehow begun a new story, in a season where all the stories had turned ugly.  Nothing is likely to happen for the rest of this season, but at least there’s something to talk about, something to look forward to.

Here is a funny, if somewhat forced, analogy from The New Yorker.

Leaving moral and political issues aside—this isn’t about right or wrong, but about models of disintegration—and admitting that the stakes of the great Pedro versus Clemens battles were lower than those between Khrushchev and Kennedy, the Red Sox of 2012 are, in fact, quite a bit like the U.S.S.R. in 1989. They tried to keep up financially, and intellectually, with their rival for many years. Glasnost has passed; the end is here.

Makes sense, sort of.  But what makes the writer think that the stakes of the Pedro versus Clemens battles were lower than those between Khrushchev and Kennedy?   Is he from the West Coast?

Gorbachev won a Nobel prize, right? Is there a Nobel prize for baseball general managers?  If so, Cherington gets my vote.

Ben Cherington, possible Nobel laureate

What makes me happy (baseball edition)

Let’s face it: baseball is boring.  Nothing much happens in the course of a game.  For every minute of action, there are five minutes of crotch-scratching and sunflower-seed-spitting.  The Red Sox this season have been particularly boring: win a game, lose a game…

And then something like this happens….

Tie game, bottom of the eighth, Ryan Kalish on first.  Bobby Valentine puts on a hit-and-run.  Kalish takes off with the pitch.  Mike Aviles bounces a ball to first.  Kalish reaches second — and keeps running!  He beats the tag at third.  Daniel Nava hits a single to center, and Kalish scores the go-ahead run.  The Red Sox win.  How did that happen?

The Red Sox don’t look like they’re going anywhere this year: too many injuries, too many stars underperforming.  Tonight Jon Lester is underperforming yet again.  But just for that one moment, they were exciting.

Now back to the crotch-scratching.