It all made perfect sense. Fans at Fenway Park on Saturday saw a resilient player enjoy a resilient moment in a resilient town on a resilient day.
Daniel Nava launched a three-run home run in the eighth inning to propel the Red Sox to a 4-3 victory on an emotional afternoon. Looking at all the variables involved, a more fitting ending couldn’t have been scripted.
Nava comes with a unique baseball story. A true, hard-working underdog, he found himself undrafted out of college, was forced to play in an independent league and has spent much of his career until now going back and forth between the big leagues and the minors. In fact, Nava was an afterthought in the Red Sox organization as recently as last season. Yet despite the trials and tribulations, the 30-year-old has pressed on every step of the way, demonstrating the type of resiliency that Bostonians can appreciate.
On a day when the city of Boston’s resiliency was on display, Nava was the perfect protagonist.
The day started in emotional fashion with a moving pregame ceremony that honored the victims and heroes of this past week’s events. It was difficult to find a dry eye, as the ceremony was both a tribute to those affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy and a celebration of the city’s ability to bounce back in the face of adversity.
The day could have ended there, and it would have been tough to complain. After all, this day was hardly going to be about the result of the game.
The Red Sox soon found themselves fighting tooth and nail with the Royals, though, and a mistake by Nava in the seventh inning proved costly. The Sox, who were trailing 2-1 at the time, had runners at first and second with no outs when Nava was picked off second base by catcher Salvador Perez. It helped the Royals escape the inning unscathed, and it would have been easy for doubt to settle in.
There would be no doubt on this day, though. Nava wouldn’t allow it. The Red Sox wouldn’t allow it. Boston wouldn’t allow it.
On a day in which resiliency was the central theme, the Red Sox began rallying in the bottom of the eighth, just minutes after Neil Diamond led the Fenway Faithful in a raucous rendition of “Sweet Caroline.” With two outs and two on, Nava — a man whose baseball journey is as Boston as it gets — turned on a 1-1 changeup and sent it sailing over the right-field fence to give the Red Sox a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“Fortunately it got out, but knowing everything that went into today and the importance of this. This is for the city, but not just for the city, but each person who was impacted,” Nava said after the game. “It’s something that for us to get the win, whether it was me or whether it was anyone to come through, it was something I think that we all wanted to do. And hey, we got it, and we got it in a special way, a special fashion, so it makes it that much more exciting.”
Exciting; yes. Fitting; undoubtedly. Nava, who has bounced back time and time again throughout his baseball life, bounced back in a game when bouncing back was what the day was all about.
The healing process in Boston is still just that; a process. But watching Nava round the bases in triumph enabled Red Sox fans for at least a moment say, “This is normalcy.”
This is Boston. And in the words of David Ortiz, “this is our [expletive] city.”