“We have the best, and, to be more specific, the classiest fans in all of sports, and the reason I say that is because they recognize and care about hard work as well as people, human beings. Contributions … other than superstars. They recognize every player on the roster.
“They recognize contributions from guys like Alex Cora, and, in the past, from a pitcher who would get one out. They always seem to recognize effort. I’m just blown away by their consistency and their knowledge of the game."
Damn straight, Gabe Kapler, who received a touching standing ovation before Monday’s game, joining the ranks of Coco Crisp and Kevin Millar, who also received standing O’s before their first-ever 2006 at-bats at Fenway Park.
Not to say Boston fans haven’t made mistakes (the 2005 treatment of Foulke, Bellhorn and Millar stand out — although, really, screw you, Edgar). Fans remedied their mistake with Millar when he returned with the O’s. Sox fans now might have a chance to remedy a 20-year mistake in just a few days.
The Sox will honor the 1986 American League champs on Tuesday, with the Mets in town. They’ve sent invites to all the relevant participants — including Bill Buckner. Buckner has received all kinds of abuse in the 20 years following his infamous error that ended Game 6 of the Series. After the 04 win, some media types went so far as to say Boston had forgiven Buckner. From the Globe’s blog:
"Personally, on my end of it, I’m just a little disappointed with the whole thing,” Buckner told Sporting News Radio in October 2004 after the Sox won the World Series. “This whole thing about being forgiven and clearing my name, you know, I mean … cleared from what? What did I do wrong? … I’ve gone through a lot of, what I feel, undeserved bad situations for myself and my family over a long period of time, and for someone to come up to me and say, "Hey, you’re forgiven,’ I mean, it just kind of brings a really bad taste in my mouth."
Surprisingly, Boston fans actually gave Buckner a standing ovation when he returned to the team in 1990. Nevertheless, the stigma remains, and once and for all, Sox fans should give Buckner a standing O — assuming he accepts the invitation, which he hasn’t yet. This wouldn’t be forgiving him. It would be asking his forgiveness.
I admit that I wasn’t there in 86, being just 4 years old, and I didn’t go through the heartbreak and raw emotion that many Sox fans endured. Such feelings are difficult to let go of.
But it’s not like I’m asking Sox fans to cheer Bucky Dent or Aaron Boone. We accept now that Buckner was a victim of poor managing and poor circumstances in being put in the position he was in. Most people now blame the Game 6 collapse on some combination of McNamara/Gedman/Stanley. Buckner was an important piece of a championship team and should be remembered as such. It would be a great gesture if Sox fans would prove Kapler right yet again and give Buckner a well-deserved, long-overdue standing ovation.