Thursday, November 7, 2013

Let's Hear it for the Clubhouse Guys

Now that we’ve gotten a little rest and a little perspective, I think 2013 could be the best Red Sox season ever. I wasn’t around for the Impossible Dream team in 1967 or really aware of the great 1975 team, but let’s face it, if you don’t win the World Series, the season ends on a down note. 2004 was fantastic -- and the only season that might come close to this one – but the great moments of 2004 were more about vanquishing the Yankees in the ALCS than mowing down the Cardinals. While the storyline in 2004 was about overcoming a curse (and the dreaded Yankees), this year was supposed to about rebuilding: mixing rookies with “clubhouse guys” and hoping to compete with the talent-laden teams in the AL East. The 2013 World Champion Red Sox defied expectations and by all accounts, developed into an all-clubhouse team, winning with grit and playing with maximum effort each day.

I usually use this space to call someone out or criticize a political move, but I’m going to rip a page out of the 2013 Red Sox book and do something unexpected: I’m going to be nice.

Rhode Island is really lucky to have Jack Reed as one of our U.S. Senators. When the John Chafee/ Claiborne Pell era ended, some folks – myself included – were concerned that Rhode Island would get lost in the small state shuffle without those senior members of the Senate to speak up for us. Other states have senators that are more high-profile and more media-hungry (think Chuck Schumer and Ted Cruz) to raise their states’ concerns but Senator Reed keeps a far lower profile and focuses on what needs to be done. While he’s never done a turn on the late night talk shows, he’s certainly has been a go-to resource for the Sunday morning hosts who want to interview serious policy makers who can look beyond the politics to talk substance. As a constituent I appreciate that he’s well-informed - even if I don’t agree with some of his votes - but I’m actually a fan because he’s a clubhouse guy.

When I was working on the Sundlun campaign in 1990, then State Senator Jack Reed was running for Congress. After the primary, the democratic candidates would meet periodically for coordinated campaign meetings. One fall morning I was unloading boxes of campaign materials out of my trunk just before one of these meetings. Several of my male co-workers walked by, said hello and walked into the meeting. As I was unloading the last box, a man I didn’t know stopped and asked if he could carry the box for me – I declined since it was the last one – but he waited and opened the door to the office introducing himself. I thought, “Nice guy that Jack Reed. I wonder if he’ll beat Trudy Coxe.”

A generation later, that same nice guy – now Rhode Island’s senior U.S. Senator -- came to Bristol to swear in the new Colt-Andrews Elementary Student Government. He led twenty-five serious little faces through their oath to “be respectful and responsible” and “uphold the honor” of their school. He spoke about how important it was to be honest and to work hard and then congratulated each child on his or her election. Although this group of constituents is still ten years away from casting a ballot, Senator Reed shook every hand and posed for every photo, never looking for the exit or talking about the next thing on his schedule.

So Texas can have both Nelson and Ted Cruz and New York can certainly keep A-Rod and Chuck Schumer. We’re happy here with clubhouse guys like Jonny Gomes and Jack Reed and understand just how lucky we are.

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