Thursday, March 15, 2007

Baseball and war.

I had a crappy drive home tonight, and I was crabby. There was a back-up to the expressway entrance, so I went around a different way and took Storrow Dr to the Mass Pike. Unfortunately any time I saved was lost as there was a lane closed for construction. On top of that, my exit ramp was closed! I had to go up to Harvard Ave, and turn around and go back on the other side of the roadway. Ugh.

It was with that crankiness that I then had to follow this big ugly white Ford van which proceeded to go 35 mph all the way down the back roads. I tailgated. I also proceeded to have my attitude knocked down a notch when we passed a state trooper hanging in someone's driveway.

And just to make sure I really got the message, as I followed a Subaru through my town, we passed a local cop lurking in the Ace hardware parking lot.

Gotta slow down. Life isn't a race.

Many of you know of my love of baseball and been rooting for the Red Sox, and how much I gush over David Ortiz. He is this big Dominican with the bling, yet is such a soft-spoken, non-drama driven anti-diva in a world of prima donna babies who play this game. He shows up, does his job, gives to the community, and you never hear a negative peep out of him. Anyway, I heard this story the other day, and I was touched.

...On Tuesday morning, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz got one of those messages. A young soldier he met last summer at Fenway Park was killed last week in Iraq.

Sitting at his locker in the clubhouse of City of Palms Park after the morning workout, Ortiz called a reporter over.

"I have a story for you," Ortiz said.

With that he told the story of meeting Spc. Justin Rollins. Within minutes, this mountain of a man -- the one with the megawatt smile, whose booming voice precedes him into any room -- was reduced to tears.

Rollins, 22, of Newport, N.H., was killed with five other soldiers on March 5 in Samarra, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near their unit during combat operations. They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

"He was such a good kid," Ortiz said. "He came to Fenway to watch a game, and he wanted to meet me. It was going to be his last game at Fenway because he was going to Iraq. He came by the clubhouse, and I talked to him for a while. He just seemed like he was so full of life."

So impressed was he by Rollins, Ortiz promised to hit a home run for the young soldier. Ortiz kept that pledge, and for added measure, it was one of his patented walk-off numbers, in the 10th inning against the Phillies on June 24.

"I told him at the time that that home run I was going to dedicate to him for going to Iraq," Ortiz said. "And just today I received a message from his family."

Clubhouse attendant Jared Pinkos had the unenviable task of delivering the news.

"He came in jovial, typical Ortiz, laughing," Pinkos said. "But this just knocked him out. He started shaking."

Asked to send something for the funeral, scheduled for Saturday in Newport, with burial on Monday in Arlington National Cemetery, Ortiz has dispatched a white No. 34 uniform jersey, with the inscription, "My deepest condolences to the Rollins family. It was an honor to meet Justin and I will keep him in my prayers. Sincerely, David Ortiz."

He is also sending a ball, to be placed in Rollins' casket, on which he wrote: "To Justin Rollins, Rest in peace. God bless, David Ortiz," and another with his autograph as a memento for the Rollins family.

"It's just so sad," he said. "He's a young kid, full of life. Unbelievable, you know. It's just sad."

Ortiz paused, turned away and grabbed a T-shirt from his locker, wiping the tears from his eyes.

Though it was the first time Ortiz had received a call informing him of the death of a soldier who was also a fan, he is no stranger to the pain of that kind of news. His mother, Angela Rosa Arias, died in a car accident on Jan. 1, 2002, at the age of 46. Her birthday was last week. He also has a friend coping with the loss of his own mother two days ago.

The memories brought on by his mother's birthday, his friend's loss and, now, the news of Rollins' death have all hit him very hard, he said.

"It just got me," he said. "I think of the pain coming from his family."

I am so sick of it. Good young men and women dying, wounded ones betrayed by a VA system... our government is sending them overseas to clean up their mess, and reminding us daily of their sacrifice yet they are taking advantage of their service and then not even taking care of them and their families when they need it most. Do you know they want to cut pay for some guardsmen serving in Kosovo . I guess when you're trying to cut costs, you have to rob Peter to pay Paul, and perhaps peace-keeping in Kosovo doesn't qualify for "imminent danger pay" anymore. Tell that to their spouses left "holding down the fort", so to speak, trying to pay mortgages and buy groceries. Let's just spit on these volunteers some more.

God Bush makes me sick. I hope he and his f*cking cronies actually have to face the music on the firing of those U.S. attorneys.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi G-
Couldn't agree more. I heard a report yesterday that apparently Rove was behind the attny firing episode; big surprise there... not to mention the whole Valerie Plame/Scooter Libby thing. I almost feel bad for Scooter, and hope he decides not to be the fall guy for these buttholes.

Also gotta say--love the new pic--Photo Booth is TOO much fun.

Great chatting w/ you last night