What a Walk Off

821897.jpg

What a Walk Off

The best part of any walk-off home run is the celebration.

Its bigger than the home run itself. Its bigger than the victory. The walk-off celebration is bigger than baseball!

OK, the same size as baseball. But either way, theres nothing cooler than watching a guy round third base the musics blasting, the crowds going bonkers, the losers are walking off the field staring down at their cleats as rowdy teammates wait at the plate. Ready to party like its 2099.

Its pretty rare to see this kind of group celebration in baseball. In the NHL, it happens after every goal. In the NFL, it happens after every touchdown (for some teams, after every play). In the NBA, you see it after big timeouts.

In baseball, you need a walk-off. Its the only time a team ever collectively lets loose.

And when they do, its awesome.

For instance, last night at Fenway.

Forget how big of a win it was for the Sox. Forget that theyve now won five of seven games since the All-Star Break, are only one back in the Wild Card and are getting healthier by the day. For me, the highlight of last night's walk-off was still the celebration.

Cody Ross tossing his helmet and diving into the pile. Shredder Punto ripping off Ross's shirt. Alfredo Aceves sneaking up from behind and dumping a bucket of Gatorade on everyone's head. (Quick note: The Gatorade shower is what stood out the most when I watched the celebration live. And afterwards, I immediately set out to figure out the dumper's identity. When I learned it was Aceves, I felt stupid for ever asking. Of course it was Aceves. That's textbook Aceves!)

Anyway, like I was saying. The celebration was amazing. More than anything, just the chance to see these guys care about something. And to see them do it together. That they were having fun! That maybe some things are more important than how many years are on your contract and whether the manager gives you a heads up before a day off.

Who knows what will happen next, but this series against the White Sox really feels like it could be a turning point for this team. And last night's celebration was the capper.

All in all, it was just a great night to be a Red Sox fan.

Coincidentally, it was an awful morning to be a human being.

It's hard to write, talk or even care about sports in light of what happened at that movie theater in Colorado. It's so beyond screwed up that I'm not sure why I'm even attempting to talk about it. What good will any of these words do?

But I felt like I had to say something. Even if it's just out of guilt for the fact here in Boston, 2,000 miles away from the tragedy, we have things like baseball and walk-off celebrations to temporarily take our minds off what happened. That as time goes on, we'll always remember the events of today, but we'll never truly understand the aftermath.

We'll go out tonight. We'll watch the Red Sox. We'll get wrapped in errors and at-bats. We'll move on with our lives. Meanwhile, people in Colorado will be dealing with this for years. Their lives are forever changed . . . or just plain over. What a mess.

Thoughts go out to everyone involved.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

cleveland-indians-andy-marte-killed-12217.jpg

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.

Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.

Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.  

Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.  

Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
 

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

kansas-city-royals-yordano-ventura-killed-12217.jpg

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014. 

Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners. 

Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014. 

Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.