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Home » June 2008 Game CommentsJune 2008 » Greatness


Game 69: June 12, 2008
Orioles 2 L: Jeremy Guthrie (3-7) 32-33, 2 game losing streak
WinRed Sox 9 W: Jon Lester (5-3) 42-27, 2 game winning streak
Highlights: When a baseball game featuring a grand slam by the reigning World Series MVP, two home runs (one by the much-maligned free agent signing turned team pinnacle and the other by the homegrown All-Star), and a solid start by a pitcher with a no-hitter on his resume is but an appetizer to your town’s sports main course, you know you are blessed to live in the right place at the right time. When a beanie baby replica of one of your team’s mascots receives a mini championship trophy of his own, you know you are happy to share it with people as or more maniacal than you.

What is it that makes a team great?

One can recite examples from history, like Celtics of the 50s and 60s or the Cleveland Browns of the 40s and 50s, but such analogies often fall on unbelieving ears. Grainy footage of players unaided by modern, shall we say, nutrition and mega-contracts doesn’t impress the video game generation, a wave of kids who think they can take on a Scott Kazmir fastball because they did so on their PS3 and who are exposed to athletic feats 24/7.

So one proffers teams of more recent vintage that have gone on championship runs. Then the oldtimers respond by pounding their podiums about the gruff ruffians who played for love of the game way back when. No one can shake them from their belief that no team will ever topple their childhood idols.

Perhaps it is easier to define what greatness isn’t.

Greatness isn’t allowing a pop-up in foul territory fall between you and your teammate and making a face at them when neither of you executed. Just ask Ramon Hernandez how he feels when Melvin Mora flashed a sour expression at him when this happened in the second inning. Will either of them go all out for each other next time? Would they even bother to dash at full sprint as the Kevins, Cash and Youkilis, did in the fourth inning? The Red Sox pair also didn’t make the play, but I can guarantee the other seven men on the field appreciated the effort and the nine members of the opposition were granted a glimpse of what they are not.

Greatness isn’t walking off the court before the shot of your teammate even succumbs to gravity. Find out what Sasha Vujacic thought of Kobe Bryant exiting the parquet before every millisecond of the clock drained, the supposed leader of the team with his back to his teammates. Greatness isn’t having your maid dust off your Most Valuable Player trophy. Greatness isn’t running an exceptional player out of town because of your fragile ego.

Other examples? Leading a series 3-0 and losing it. Going on a historic undefeated run in the regular season and playoffs only to collapse in the title game. Building the biggest lead in NBA finals history and losing the game, 97-91.

I think I have an idea of what greatness isn’t, enough to know that am fortunate to be living in Boston right now. It’s great, from what I can see.

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