Bill Buckner Taught Red Sox Nation How to Endure

News that Bill Buckner had passed away on May 27th after battling dementia shocked Red Sox Nation. Despite a strong career, many fans remembered Buckner for only one thing: Game Six of the 1986 World Series. Buckner lived with that memory for the rest of his life and was unfairly blamed for losing the World Series for the Sox. If the Red Sox hadn’t gone sixty-eight years without having won a championship, and had to wait another eighteen years to win one, perhaps Buckner would have been remembered more positively. If there’s one thing that Bill Buckner taught Red Sox Nation though it’s how to endure and persevere.

Buckner had quite a distinguished career. He collected over 2700 hits, was an All-Star,bill buckner taught and a batting champion. His career spanned four decades (1969-1990). In over 10,000 at-bats, Buckner only struck out 453 times. That stat in itself is absolutely astounding. It’s no wonder that his name came up in discussions about potential Hall of Famers. So why didn’t his statistics get more recognition? Simple. Mookie Wilson’s grounder that went through Buckner’s legs in Game Six of the 1986 World Series not only made him the butt of jokes for years to come, but became the symbol of the bad luck that had plagued the Red Sox since selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Even though the Red Sox were already in trouble before Wilson even came to the plate, Buckner was still the scape goat.

Despite Wilson’s Grounder, Bill Buckner Taught Fans How to Endure

In this age where one mistake can end entire careers, Buckner stood as a symbol of endurance. He’s an example of how people can recover from what many sports fans might see as a mistake from which there is absolutely no chance of recovery. He didn’t crawl into a hole and hide from the world. Buckner recognized what he did, but he faced the reality of the situation. He didn’t try to blame others. There were no made up excuses. He answered questions about the incident in countless interviews. Buckner even signed photos of the ball going through his legs as Wilson hustled towards first base. Although he was compared to players like Fred Snodgrass and Fred Merkle, Buckner didn’t let it define him. He chose NOT to be play victim.

In time, Red Sox Nation forgave him. Buckner found his redemption (if he was even looking for it. If anything, he forgave Red Sox Nation!). More importantly though, despite the bad hand he was dealt in his career, Buckner went on to prove that one’s life isn’t over in the wake of such a tragedy. There is a chance to recover and find happiness again. We do get a second chance at life; there are do-overs.

I was at Fenway Park when Buckner’s death was announced before the start of the game on Sunday. No one jeered or shouted anything about ’86. No one in my section said anything demeaning. If anything, people shouted “Yeah Buckner! We love you!” Red Sox Nation had clearly learned to move on (though winning four World Series in the last fifteen years has certainly helped heal those wounds). Clearly Bill Buckner taught us that life continues after mistakes, and that they don’t define the way one is remembered if you don’t let them.

Baseball itself is a symbol of second chances. Nine of them, in fact. And no one knew that better than Bill Buckner.

The Red Sox Dead Weight Needs To Go

The Red Sox are within a game or two of capturing first place. It’s miracle in its own right if you consider the Red Sox dead weight. Pablo Sandoval isn’t panning out. Sandy Leon’s flash in the pan hitting last year isn’t carrying into this season. Rick Porcello leads the league in losses at 9. If the Red Sox are going to capture first place they need to cut some of their dead weight and they need to do it yesterday.

Red Sox Dead Weight

The Red Sox are playing great baseball. Josh Rutledge is holding his own at third. Andrew Benintendi is a contender for the Rookie of the Year Award. Mookie Betts is leading the Red Sox with 12 homers. Chris Sale is as masterful as ever. But with the Red Sox dead weight that consists of Sandoval, Porcello, and Leon, it’s hard for the team to play better, and they certainly can.

The Red Sox Are Winning the Late-Inning Games

The Red Sox were among the league leaders last year with runners left on base and runners left in scoring position. It seemed like the Red Sox gave up once they fell behind. We’re not seeing that attitude this season. Back-to-back walk-off wins against Philadelphia last week proved that the Red Sox can play under pressure. What’s even better is that players like Benintendi are the ones coming through in the clutch.

Red Sox Dead Weight Is Dragging The Team Down

It’s not always easy to cut dead weight. Players like Pablo Sandoval and Rick Porcello have such big contracts that it’s hard to find another team that’ll pick them up. In other instances no one wants them. But the Red Sox should just rip off the band-aid and shed these players before the All-Star break. Keeping them around is like putting raisins in oatmeal cookies. They just get in the way.

There’s a great scene in the film Moneyball where Billy Bean, played by Brad Pitt, goes against expert advice and cuts a number of players, including Jeremy Giambi. These players weren’t panning out. They were dead weight on the field and a distraction in the clubhouse. While the plot of Moneyball and the reality of the Red Sox are completely different, it’s a lesson that the Red Sox could learn something from. The front office needs to stop coming up with excuses and make some difficult decisions.