5:42 pm: Voicemail from mom
“Hey Krissy, it’s Mom. I just wanted to let you know that Big Papi won’t be needing your services. He just hit a home run and JD Drew just hit another one right behind him so we’re doing pretty well. And Youk’s back and he’s got a hit too. But Big Papi came through – a standing ovation and he tipped his helmet to everybody. It was really cool. I hope you’re listening.”
Oh was I.
I was stuck on the Caltrain listening to WRKO on my phone and freaking out in my seat on the upper deck. I looked around for someone to share the moment with but only saw commuters tapping laptop keyboards or passed out entirely, their foreheads pressed against the windows. Naturally, I turned to Twitter, typing: “Papi!!! 129 plate appearances later!!! Home run a curtain call and one giant sense of relief.”
But I was wrong.
Turns out it was 149 plate appearances. (I hadn’t realized how truly dire the situation had become.) Initially I was just happy Jason Varitek officially moved off my last-man-I-want-standing-at-the-plate-in-a-clutch-situation list, after belting his second home run of the game. Then minutes later Papi made the arduous trek to the plate, snapped out of the streak and all was right again in the world. I’m pretty sure all of Red Sox Nation slept a little better last night.
For me, it wasn’t because I truly believe all his struggles at the plate will be solved in one at bat. It wasn’t because I was concerned about the legacy factor; it was simply because I like the guy and every time he struck out or hit a dribbler down to first a tiny piece of my soul died.
And with every at bat proving to be yet another disappointment, it became the giant elephant in the room everyone kept talking about. Just yesterday the Boston Globe ran a story titled “What’s Plan B?” before the game, even quoting Mike Lowell as saying, “I don’t think David’s career is over.” Now that response didn’t come out of nowhere. [Way to keep the faith Massarotti.] It was the question everyone was asking inside. And deep down I suspect Papi was too.
Now I can’t take credit for his home run last night. Despite all my letter writing, tweeting and coaching advice for Tito, I realize this was the work of someone else entirely: my nana.
If you recall, just a few days ago she prescribed the one thing that worked: David needs to have fun again. Well, turns out he listened to another wise old person: his dad. (He must read my blog).
“My father flew in yesterday,” Papi said. “My father told me, ‘It’s not going to get worse than this. Get out there and have fun. Do what you know how to do.’ ”
Now time will tell whether Papi continues this new streak. But I feel pretty good right now. I feel good when Papi says things like, “I feel like I got my confidence back. I feel like a real hitter, not like the punch and judy hitter I’ve been the first 40 games . . . swing like a man.”