Saturday, April 20, 2013

Normalcy returns to Boston as Fenway Park opens

By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
@Philabaseball

The gates at Fenway Park in Boston opened just before noon on Saturday, signifying the return of normalcy to a city that has been embroiled in chaos for the past five days.    

"We take a lot of responsibility," third baseman Will Middlebrooks said to the Boston Hearld. "We know how big of a deal baseball is here, and we know how passionate everyone is about it. We're just happy to get back out there and help the city heal."

Following a day long manhunt that included a lock-down of the entire Boston metropolitan area, authorities on Friday night apprehended 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the second suspect of Monday's Boston Marathon bombing. 

"I haven't been here for years, but what has gone on with the events of the last week, your natural thing to do as an athlete is to embrace the city," outfielder Shane Victorino said. "Sporting events are an avenue of getting away from everyday life and what's going on in the world. Everyone understands the tragedy that’s taken place in the city. To be able to come and get away, today is going to be a very emotional day."

After finishing a three-game series in Cleveland on Thursday night, the Red Sox arrived at Logan Airport in Boston around 1:45 a.m. Friday. Hours before, the two brothers believed to be responsible for the bombing allegedly shot and killed MIT police officer Sean Collier and fled to Watertown where they engaged authorities in a gun fight. 

Victorino was one of nearly a dozen Red Sox players that were at Fenway Park on Friday when word reached the clubhouse that the night's contest against the Royals would be postponed in accordance with the area lock-down.

"It was the right decision," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

As news circulated about the apprehension of Tsarnaev, baseball fans across America rejoiced. Some chanted "USA, USA," while others applauded and waved American flags. Several ball parks, including Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, notified fans of Tsarnaev's capture by putting the news on the scoreboard. 

As it has so many times in the past, baseball again will act as a healer on Saturday afternoon in Boston. 

"Just for that minute they can forget about what they're going through and be happy," said Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "That's what we're here for. It's our duty, just like everyone else's, to come together."

- Patrick Gordon is managing editior of the Philadelphia Baseball Review. Follow him on Twitter @Philabaseball or contact him at pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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