IN THE WAKE OF THE EPIC MANNY BUMMER, let us focus only on the good things. Like, when Ellsbury, in a fit of daring, all of a sudden decided to steal home against the Yankees:
The plate beckoned. Jacoby Ellsbury, creeping farther off third base as Andy Pettitte delivered his second pitch to J.D. Drew, saw the situation clearly. The pitcher was throwing from the windup, the lefthander’s back to third base, the third baseman playing off the bag, the bases loaded.
So on the next pitch, Ellsbury was three-quarters of the way down the line before Pettitte noticed him, the pitch coming as fast as he could throw it to catcher Jorge Posada. Ellsbury was coming, too, then sliding, head-first after a brief stumble, as Drew stood watching. Posada’s tag was futile.
Ellsbury had stolen home in the fifth inning, the highlight of the Red Sox’ 4-1 win last night and a series sweep of the Yankees.
The roar was deafening, even though the crowd of 38,154 at Fenway Park seemingly was having trouble realizing what it had just seen. This was better even than his tear for home from second base on a wild pitch in his rookie season, the one that made them think he was a god on the base paths. It was simply brilliant.
And Pettitte had never even looked over.
Let’s just make sure not to dwell too long on the likelihood that steals are becoming a bigger part of the game because teams are compensating for the significant drop in dingers that go along with stringent drug testing. Let’s instead look towards the Bronx and the fancy new stadium with its ludicrously overpriced seats, “mallpark” atmosphere, and other fan-unfriendly features, like employees who literally leave paying fans out in the rain. A little schadenfreude goes a long way. But the troubles in the Yankee empire don’t just warm the cockles of the heart for their own sake. They also remind us to appreciate an ownership and a franchise that fans can happily get behind — if for no other reason than the invaluable gift of a new old Fenway:
“There are those who want to build the Eighth Wonder of the World,” Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox’ president and chief executive, told me Friday. “We just wanted to preserve a nice little old ballpark.”
So even though the ghosts of ownerships past continue to haunt Yawkey Way, and more upsetting disclosures may be just around the corner, we still get to watch the game at the same address as always. The seats are still cramped (along with necks), pillars still obstruct, and the dented wall standing in left field is still the same shade of green. These things at least are mostly unchanged — ready for a new generation of players to step in and pull off memorable, daring feats, all on their own.