Frankie O: B Strong

Frankie O: B Strong
April 26, 2013, 9:45 am
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KEEPING IT HALF FULL

That’s the goal of the optimist, right? The glass is never half empty. But as I have found over the years, it takes a lot of pouring to keep the glass that way. Life is about finding the daily joys that fortify us so that when we get knocked down, we’re able to get right back up. This sentiment should be very familiar to Cubs’ fans. For me, my optimist skills have been honed from a lifetime of suffering through Philadelphia sports.

I have to admit though, what happened in Boston last week staggered me a bit.

As usual with these types of things, they come out of nowhere. You’re not expecting it and that’s the point.

In my sports world, as far as events go, the Masters is near the top of my list. The tradition and scenery are beyond compare. This is especially true for me since visiting there several years ago. It’s a rite of spring and never fails to captivate me year after year. 

I had spent the Sunday night watching the Masters along with all the customers at work and was caught up in the thrilling ending. So much so that when I got home from work I couldn’t get enough of the Golf Channel coverage and stayed up late watching their entire 4-hour post-tournament coverage. While not to the level of Phil Mickelson, for me, Adam Scott’s story was still very compelling. Like Mickelson, Scott had carried the weight of lofty expectations through repeated failures at golf’s four majors, the ultimate measure. Unlike Phil though, Scott also carried the burden of a sports-crazed Australia on his shoulders every time he played in Augusta. This burden was felt by any Aussie, and especially so since the nation yearned for a first-time Masters champion in the wake of the Greg Norman melt-down in 1996. (Not to mention 1986 and ’87. But I could spend days typing about Norman’s bad fortunes at Augusta.) Scott’s own epic disaster had occurred last summer when he held a four shot lead with four to play in the British Open, and gave away the tournament to Ernie Els. I was struck by his composure and class in interviews right after the final round. Not an easy thing to do, I imagined, when one of your dreams slips out of your grasp with the entire world watching. But Scott persevered, and while not the focus of the weekend hype (that of course belonged to Tiger) he hung around and grinded long enough to take the lead on the 72nd hole with a 20-foot putt. A putt he had to imagine gave him the tournament. But in true Augusta Aussie fashion, he had to hear the roars as Angel Cabrera nailed his 18th green approach to 3 feet, for a tap-in birdie and a tie, as he sat in the scorer’s tent. But as he and Cabrera dueled for 2 insanely intense holes, trying to out-do each other and pretty much succeeding, many of us were struck by the sportsmanship they exhibited towards each other. I had a ton of people mention that to me at the bar afterward. It’s a lasting impression.

So it was with this happy thought in mind that I did my Monday errands and bought my different papers to read more reactions to a great, uplifting Masters.

That’s when I heard on the radio about the bombing and that it was near the finish line. This fact struck me. Any bombing is awful, obviously, but to pick such a meaningful spot at an iconic race was truly evil.

My father has been a runner for as long as I can remember and has run in the New York Marathon. A long time ago, almost in another life, I was a runner, (I heard that!) although not nearly to that level. And for the last 20 years my better half has made running and the occasional race a staple of our lives.

There is something about the running community. It is very much a brotherhood. Now maybe it’s not something a couch potato like me can fully understand, my question is, why?  But they understand what it is that they do and know the price to be paid to do it. It’s their subculture. I meet so many of them at the restaurant every October during the Chicago Marathon weekend and they all seem very nice, very nice in a cool, laid back way. I guess there’s something to be said for setting a goal and then achieving it.

Now within that, the place to be, for us supporters, is to be there at the end, right where the goal is accomplished. Distance running doesn’t just happen, there are months of dedication and preparation. No one knows that more than the people around, or married to, a runner. That’s what makes the finish line so much fun. The runner is happy that the race is over and the endless training, for a little while any way, is done and they can share that special moment with the people that they care for most. At least until the soreness sets in, that is.

It would never occur to me that this situation of love and elation would be an opportunity to wreak havoc.

But to some animals - I can’t think of them as people, this is no reasoned act- this was the place they chose to present their evil to the world.

Needless to say, I, along with just about everyone I talked to was riveted by the TV coverage, culminating with the events of last Friday. (Just a thought, but I don’t think the coverage of this horrible tragedy was CNN’s shining moment). There was such a feeling of relief that the 2 perpetrators won’t be able to inflict any more harm on civilized society with the capture of suspect #2. That felt good.

But what won’t be so easily captured is feeling safe in public at a major sporting event for a while. This is the world we live in, made more difficult for me with having to explain all of this to my kids. 

They can’t seem to fully understand the damage that was done to so many lives and at this point I’m glad they don’t- it’s tough enough for any adult to try and figure it out. But something they can understand is supporting those that have suffered. When I took my little ones out to play catch this past Monday, I noticed that my son had dug out my old Red Sox hat. The Red Sox script B logo being the symbol of recovery. B Strong.

I loved that my son did that and have since ordered all of the kids the official B Strong hats. The proceeds from the hat sales are going to the One Fund Boston to help those directly affected by the tragic events. It helps to be able to do something. Anything.

Once again we’ve been knocked down. And once again we will get up and finish, just like the runner in the bombing video. But we will not forget. This will stay with us forever.

The goal of a terrorist is to inflict fear and change a way of life. I know from the times that I have spent in Boston and the countless folks I have met from there at the bar that this will not happen. They won’t allow it. These idiots picked on the wrong city.

This was bad, no doubt, but the response, in a positive way, will be overwhelming. I can’t look at it any other way.

My glass will never be empty.

B STRONG