Baton Pass, Part II: To Alola, and Beyond

Last time I talked about Pokémon, I offered my perspective on the most recent generation of the series. Now, with the latest generation almost ready to take the world by storm, let’s focus on what’s to come.

To this day, it still amuses me how the news cycle for this generation has played out. (And, if we’re being honest, it’s been far more fun than this past electoral cycle.) If you weren’t paying attention, here’s a brief summary of how the news cycle has played out:

  • February 26th, 2016: Sun and Moon are officially announced.
  • March to Mid-May: No news at all; not even anything from CoroCoro Magazine, a Japanese magazine publication that is notorious for leaking Pokémon-related information ahead of The Pokémon Company International and Game Freak’s official announcements.
  • May 10th: The first gameplay, starter trio, and legendaries are revealed.
  • June-October: Monthly news blitzes revealing mind-blowing new additions and features, with some smaller surprise reveals in-between.

Yeah. That’s pretty crazy. What’s even crazier is how they’ve been able to keep this up for almost half a year.

We get confirmation of new titles, things go bone-dry for a few months afterward, and then all of a sudden all kinds of new information pops up every month, most of it involving things people never would’ve seen coming otherwise. Things like Alolan forms, Z-Moves, and Ultra Beasts blew people away when they were first revealed, with the promise of adding new dimensions to the tried-and-true formula. That, to me, is a big part of why I think Game Freak has been keeping all the excitement and speculation going for as long as it has.

But as great as all these supersized info-drops have been, one of my hopes for these games is that there’s more to these games than what Game Freak and TPCi are letting on. The fact that we’ve been getting so much info on these games before their release is all well and good, considering we didn’t get anything for the better part of two-and-a-half months. At the same time, I still want there to be some element of surprise when it comes to what the games have to offer.

Something that I feel is missing in a lot of games these days is that surprise factor. Everything is unveiled before the games even officially come out, whether it’s through leakers or, in some rarer cases, the developers themselves. Even then, and with this being Pokémon’s big 20th anniversary, my hope is that all of this info they’ve dropped on us for the past five months is just part of something bigger. Not a small part, necessarily, but this game as a whole feels like something Game Freak has been working towards for a long time.

One of the few issues that I had with Generation VI as a whole was its story. Again, it was nothing really bad… just lackluster. I will grant that it had a tough act to follow with Generation V’s story, but even then it’s no excuse to follow up with a story that wasn’t just hollow, but also left a lot of untapped potential on the table; potential that could’ve been realized with a Pokémon Z, or an X2/Y2 like what they did for Black and White. Of course, we now know that’s never going to happen.

For Sun and Moon, I want to see what Game Freak can really do for a story. There have been little bits and pieces on what the games’ story centers on, such as what truly makes a Pokémon, which already sounds like an interesting concept to work off of. If Game Freak goes deeper with that concept, and truly delivers, we could have something really special on our hands. On top of that, strong character development is also welcome. The characters we’ve seen so far look fun and enjoyable, but there’s bound to be more to them under the surface.

A story-related hope I have is that Game Freak really surprises us with these characters and how they develop throughout the journey. I want to see something like Lillie, who’s against Pokémon battles normally, come to the realization that they’re not as bad as she makes them out to be. Or what about something like Guzma, for all the streetwise bravado he’s shown off, revealing a different side to his character. And possibly the biggest surprise of them all would come from the Aether Foundation; most people are pinning them as the true villains of the story, but what if Game Freak toyed with our expectations and made them a genuinely benevolent organization? I’d give them kudos for that.


But above all else, the single biggest wish that I have for Sun and Moon is really pretty simple: That it’s just as fun as the previous games, if not moreso. Being a game enthusiast, I always hold out hope that the games I play will be enjoyable; basically, I’m a “Gameplay First” kind of person. They pull that much off, and they get a passing grade, it’s as simple as that. X and Y were already enjoyable as they were; they may have had a few hiccups to them, sure, but in the end, going through Kalos was still a treat. For Sun and Moon, I’m really hoping that they take what worked before, and go a few steps further with them. With the demo being out for a while, there’s a good feeling that Game Freak will answer the call in making this a great experience for any and all Pokémon fans. Whether or not that will translate to the full experience being fun is anybody’s guess.

Even with all the reveals we’ve been getting, and some leaked information coming out as well, there’s still a lot about Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon that we don’t know yet. Are we getting more than what we’ve seen for new Pokémon and Alolan forms? Is the Aether Foundation the real team of antagonists? What exactly ARE the Ultra Beasts? What happens once we clear the Island Challenge? We don’t have the answers to these questions yet. Thankfully, there’s good news: As of this writing, we’re a week away from finding out.

From Generation VI to Generation VII, Game Freak used Baton Pass.

‘Til we meet again,


“Someday” is Today

The Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions.

People, this blog isn’t even a year old, and I’m already writing about stuff I never thought I’d be writing about. Let me say that again:

The Chicago Cubs…Major League Baseball’s lovable losers for so long…are World Champions for the first time in a century and change.

If this is part of that mass hysteria Bill Murray was talking about in Ghostbusters, than hey, I’m all for it.

Putting the humor aside, what a World Series that was. I don’t think you could’ve written a script any more dramatic or any less boring. Especially when it comes to that last game; even Game Six of the 2011 World Series wasn’t as tense. And given how that game played out, that’s saying something.

It’s just so crazy to think about only a few days after the last game. On one side, you had Cleveland*, a team that made quick work of my Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays to get to this point, all with three impressive pitchers and a borderline-untouchable bullpen.

(*For the purposes of this article, I will only refer to Cleveland’s ballclub as “Cleveland,” and will not mention their nickname in any capacity…another topic for another time.)

On the other, you had Chicago, a fusion of scrappy, mash-happy youngsters and tested veterans that muscled past the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers to get to baseball’s Promised Land for the first time since the ‘40s.

Chicago, obviously, was running on 108 years without a World Series title. Cleveland, while not as extensive, was waiting on a 68 year old title drought. All things considered, something had to give.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t going to be fussed with whoever won this World Series. For starters, Boston had been eliminated a while ago. My rule is that if Boston isn’t in it, and as long as the New York Yankees aren’t in it, I’m fine with any team winning in the end. Plus there were old Red Sox pals on either side; Terry Francona, Coco Crisp and Mike Napoli were rocking Cleveland’s uniforms, who Theo Epstein, John Lackey and Jon Lester sported Chicago pinstripes.

Basically, it would be a small victory either way. And I try to look for the small victories when there are no Red Sox in sight.

All of that being said, I picked Chicago to win it all. Mainly because the team, and their fans, had suffered enough; 108 years is a hundred years too long for any team to experience a championship drought, and even before Boston broke their own curse in 2004, Chicago always had it worse off…keep this in mind for later. So, I figured it was time for Chicago to fly one helluva ‘W’ at Wrigley Field.

We all know how this World Series played out: Cleveland wins three of the first four games to put themselves on the edge of clinching the city’s second major sports championship of 2016, Chicago battles back, rain delays the tenth inning of Game Seven, and Chicago manages to get what they need and bring the title home.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, allow me to say something that, speaking as a Boston fan, might sound sacrilegious: This was better than Boston’s curse-busting World Series.

And it’s not even close.

Look, I still hold the 2004 World Series in high regard when it comes to Boston’s 21st Century sports dominance. How can you not? When you pull off a four-game winning streak in the American League Championship Series against your hated rivals on the way to your first World Series in over eight-and-a-half decades, it’s a pretty special moment. There aren’t too many people in or out of Boston who would say that Boston’s miracle run wasn’t spectacular.

But here’s the thing: Remember how I said that Chicago always had it worse off when compared to Boston?

Well, for those who aren’t well-versed in baseball lore, here’s a quick history lesson: Prior to 2004, Boston’s last World Series title was in 1918. Similarly, before this most recent World Series, Chicago hadn’t won a World Series since 1908. That’s ten full years before Boston’s last title at that time.

Also, for a bit of additional context, Boston had to battle back from the deficit in the ALCS; they swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series right afterward. Chicago was down three games to one in the final series, and had to pull off what very few teams had done before. Yes, no team had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit before Boston, but battling back on the biggest stage means a touch more in the long run.

Especially when, you know, the team in question hasn’t won it all in over a century.

But just like Boston, Chicago’s long-awaited World Series victory was one for the ages. A win for all those that came before; it’s for the ones that came so close to tasting October glory only to fall short, and all those who couldn’t quite get the team to the World Series. And, even though he was never actually a Cubs player, this one was for Steve Bartman, who can now roam the North Side of Chicago without being reminded of 2003.

It’s still a weird thing to say a few days later. I won’t be shocked if it’s still weird even one or two months later. That being said, it’s kind of a nice thing to say. So, on that note, I end by reminding those still in disbelief once more:

The Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions.

‘Til we meet again,

The Strongest There Was

Let’s face it: New England sports fans have been wicked spoiled lately. Since 2002, the four major teams (the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins) have brought home four Super Bowl titles, three World Series titles, an NBA Championship, and the Stanley Cup between them. That’s nine titles overall, including all four titles in the span of seven years. For someone who was born after the glory days of the Celtics and Bruins, these are the titles I tend to focus on the most when it comes to Boston’s sports dominance, if only for the fact that I was a witness to all of them.

Of all these titles, I want to focus on my favorite today: The Red Sox’ 2013 World Series victory.

Now, at first glance, this might not seem like the most exciting pick for a “Favorite Championship.” I mean, to be fair, we’ve seen the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals on this stage once before. The matchups were interesting, but I don’t think anything could come close to matchups like Pedro Martinez vs. Albert Pujols. You could tell me that there are far more exciting championship moments to choose from, like Super Bowl XLIX or Game Seven of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, and I wouldn’t disagree.

But here’s the thing: The reason why this is my favorite Boston championship, sentimental as it may sound, is that it was won at a time when the city of Boston needed the Red Sox just as much as the Red Sox needed the city of Boston.

Ask any Red Sox fan about the first few years of the new decade, and you’ll likely be met with cringe. 2010 was a disappointing year for the Red Sox, but the end of 2011 and all of 2012 left their fans with an especially bad taste in their mouths. What was once considered a powerhouse lineup became a bunch of unlikable laughingstocks, with the hiring of Bobby Valentine in 2012 only making things worse.

Ask yourself this: Would you want to root for a baseball team with players that, amongst other things:

  • Snacked on fried chicken and beer between innings?
  • Played golf on days where they were scratched for injury purposes?
  • Didn’t show up for the funeral of revered Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky?*

Probably not, right?

(*To be clear: David Ortiz, Clay Buchholz, Vicente Padilla and Jarrod Saltalamacchia were the only Red Sox players who attended Pesky’s funeral; everyone else attended a bowling event hosted by Josh Beckett on the same day.)

So, by the time 2013 came along, the Red Sox dumped their “star-power” in favor of more chemistry-oriented guys; players that didn’t necessarily put up huge numbers night to night, but were more well-known for positive influences in the clubhouse than anything else. It didn’t seem too exciting on paper, especially considering they didn’t have the numbers of someone like Adrian Gonzalez or Carl Crawford. But unlike those two, signing these guys worked out that year.

Players like Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes were additions that not only performed well enough, but made the Red Sox fun to watch again in the eyes of many fans. They were funny, stress-free, rocked some awesome beards, but most importantly, they were dedicated. And in more ways than one.

Everybody knows what happened in Boston in 2013: The bombings at the Boston Marathon’s finish line that killed eight, wounded several others, and left the entire city in shock. These Red Sox were doing well before that, but there was something about what happened that pushed their game to something beyond the concept of “Next Level.” It felt like every win the Red Sox collected wasn’t just for them, but for the city. They helped the people of Boston take their minds off the bombings and near-statewide lockdown that occurred afterward, if only for a few nights and days at a time. And it all came together on this day three years ago at Fenway Park…which, by the way, hadn’t seen a title-clinching game in almost a century.

The moment that best-exemplifies the mentality of the 2013 Red Sox occurred during the team’s championship parade a few days after their last game. The parade stopped at the Boston Marathon’s finish line on Boylston St., where Gomes set the Commissioner’s Trophy down on the line and draped one of the team’s specially-made “Boston Strong” jerseys over it. This happened all before Ronan Tynan and the parade crowd broke out into a stirring rendition of “God Bless America.” It’s a moment that shows how this team, players and management alike, accomplished all that they did for Boston after that week in April, both those that were lost, and those still on the mend.

2004’s Red Sox squad will always be held in high regard as the dawning of a new age in team history, a turning point for a franchise that had to share the moniker of “Lovable Losers” with the Chicago Cubs for the longest time. Nobody’s going to argue that notion, and I’m not going to be the first. At the same time, even if the 2013 team didn’t have to claw back from impossible odds to win it all like their ’04 and ‘07 predecessors did, what they managed to accomplish was still pretty spectacular. They redeemed themselves in the eyes of their fans, and helped those same fans heal from tragedy in the process.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d say that’s more than worthy of a #1 spot.

‘Til we meet again,

A Sporting Chance

Nintendo made a huge splash when it unveiled its next big thing. What once went under the codename NX is now known as the Switch, a slick-looking console that can be played both at home and on the go; basically, it’s a home and portable console rolled into one package.

Real quick before we get to the actual topic, I think this is an amazing idea on paper. The ability to play video games virtually anywhere is going to be a massive boon for many game enthusiasts out there. And that list of third-party developers is nothing to sneeze at; you know you’ve got a good thing going for you with developers like Arc System Works and Bethesda in your corner. There are concerns with the hardware, obviously, and I do think that Nintendo holding off on announcing games until the beginning of next year is kind of worrisome. Overall, though, the Switch looks like it’s going to be a revolutionary new system, and I honestly can’t wait to hear more about it.

But enough small talk, let’s talk about something that came to mind when I saw the Switch trailer for the first time: Nintendo taking on the world of E-Sports.

At the end of the Switch trailer, Nintendo unveiled what looks like a sequel to their surprise hit from 2015, Splatoon. It showed off two teams going over possible strategies, and then heading out into what may as well have been a dead-ringer for Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The more I saw this scene, I got this feeling that the Switch would create a new avenue for Nintendo.

Then, it hit me: This could be Nintendo’s way of getting deeper into the world of E-Sports.

Before I get too carried away, let’s get one thing straight. I’m not saying that Nintendo is going to abandon the console gaming business in favor of cultivating competitive gaming scenes, and for that matter, I’m not saying they should. The Big N has always been about creating consoles and games for all audiences from Day One, and that’s never going to change. This is merely something that Nintendo could do in addition to that. They’re already trying to make strides in theme parks and movies, so why not branch out into one more medium?

Now, technically Nintendo has been involved in E-Sports before, at least to a degree. Games in their Super Smash Bros. series, specifically Melee and the latest entry for the Wii U, have been featured at several major fighting game tournaments in recent years, with Evo (short for Evolution, for those not in the know) being the most notable of them all. That’s not bad for initial exposure to the world of E-Sports, but who’s to say Nintendo can’t go deeper with this?

If Super Smash Bros. gets a new entry to the Switch (and if insiders like Emily Rogers are to be believed, it’s very possible), it would be the perfect foundation for a professional circuit, something akin to the Capcom Pro Tour for Street Fighter V. In addition to being a staple at major fighting game tournaments like Evo, the competitive Smash Bros. scene has plenty of exclusive tournaments like Genesis, Pound, APEX, and the Big House.

Imagine those tournaments as stepping stones toward something much grander.

It’s hard to say whether or not this will actually happen due to series director Masahiro Sakurai’s stance on Smash Bros. as a competitive fighting game. But considering how successful Smash Bros. has been competitively…one look at the attendance numbers of Smash Bros. for Wii U at Evo speaks for itself…Nintendo could open up new doors for the Smash Bros. series if they do something like the Capcom Pro Tour.

If Nintendo does get serious with an E-Sports venture, Splatoon is sure to be a part of those plans, what with how the first game absolutely exploded in popularity. While live tournaments have been possible with the first game, a new Splatoon game on the Switch essentially streamlines the process of conducting a tournament, with everyone being able to bring their own systems. Following this, another notable boon to having Splatoon on the Switch is that players on each team would be able to use their own specifically-tuned gear instead of having to rely on pre-made loadouts.

And why stop at Super Smash Bros. and Splatoon? When you think about it, Nintendo has a few series that could benefit from the E-Sports treatment. Mario Kart jumps out as a perfect first option for a professional league, and collaborating with The Pokémon Company International could yield a bigger, better Pokken Tournament circuit.

Some of Nintendo’s older franchises would make for great tournament games as well, if you think about it. Can you imagine an F-Zero pro circuit? Or an all-new Star Fox game with competitive multiplayer in mind? Sounds crazy, right? (Maybe that’s because it is, but you see my point.)

Or, if all else fails, we could see a new game from Nintendo that’s largely dedicated to tournament play. More specifically, a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA for short) with characters from across Nintendo’s wide stable of franchises, with gameplay similar to games like League of LegendsHeroes of the Storm, maybe even Overwatch in some respects. The game would still be accessible to game enthusiasts of all skill levels, obviously, but for those that really want to get more out of it, a tournament series would be the perfect thing to aspire for.

By this point, all of this may seem like the crazy ramblings of a guy who grew up with Nintendo and loves competitive gaming just as much as pro sports leagues like Major League Baseball. And, honestly, I can’t fault you for thinking that. That being said, my point still stands that the Switch could be a huge opportunity for Nintendo to branch out into more unexplored territory. Would they revolutionize E-Sports in any way? Probably not, but it would still be amazing to see them give it a try regardless.

The Nintendo Switch has a ton of possibilities. Maybe, just maybe, a stronger involvement with E-Sports is one of them. Until the Big N tells us more, only time will tell.

‘Til we meet again,

Baton Pass, Part I: Views from the Sixth Generation

We’re exactly one month away from the true beginning of a brand new generation of Game Freak’s crown jewel video game franchise. Ever since the middle of May, news for Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon has been coming at a frequent clip, with information coming almost monthly. With so much newness to look forward to, Pokémon Sun and Moon are looking to cap the series year-long 20th Anniversary celebration with a bombastic finale.

But before we jump into the newest generation of Pokémon, let’s take a look back at the previous one.

Now, I want to start this piece off by being very clear about something. I’m not going to make too many comparisons between Generation VI and the ones that came before it. There are a few reasons for this; for one, I haven’t played many of the games past the original Pokémon Red, Blue, Gold and Silver. In recent times, I have only completed the main campaigns for X and Alpha Sapphire, both of which will be talked about in this piece the most. In addition, I am currently working on Pokémon Platinum, and have yet to play Black, White, and their sequels, though I plan to do so in the future. Any references to these games I do bring up are strictly based off of viewing experiences rather than actual gameplay experiences.

Second, and most-importantly, even if I did play any of the previous titles, I would rather not compare Generation VI to previous generations too much. While I may bring up fleeting comparisons, I would rather judge this generation on its own merits instead of weighing them against those of its predecessors. Yes, there are things that previous generations did better; case in point being the fifth generation’s storyline. But at the same time, the point is more about my own personal experience with generation six.

Having said all of that, what was Generation VI like for me? Well, on an overall scale, it was a solid generation to return to after so many years away from the series. There was a lot that Game Freak did well with this generation, and just as much that they fell short with. The story of Pokémon X is, unfortunately, one of the latter.

The story takes a very back-to-basics approach, where you journey across Kalos to collect eight gym badges and challenge the Pokémon League, all while dealing with an evil organization along the way. The thing is, this would’ve been fine if not for one key problem: Missed potential. Shauna, Tierno, Trevor and Serena/Calem are enjoyable enough to be around as human companions, and as characters, there are some cool concepts; Tierno’s obsession with dancing, for example, is a great idea that I would’ve loved to see explored and expanded on. Unfortunately, the game’s story never seems to develop these characters any further than their basic traits.

AZ is even worse in this regard. At least the companions have a presence in the story, but AZ is just…there. His backstory is explained somewhat, but other than that he has no real impact. The story could’ve had a focus on AZ and his place in the lore, and it would’ve been far more interesting. All we get instead is his backstory, very little exposition from him, a battle following the champion, and a reunion with his beloved Floette. That’s all.

That’s the biggest issue with Pokémon X and Y’s story. There’s so much potential here for a compelling storyline, between AZ’s past and the history of Mega Evolution. None of it is tapped into, and all we’re left with is a hollow story topped off by a laughable evil organization in Team Flare. (Don’t get me started on those jokers, I swear…) I understand that Pokémon isn’t known for prize-winning narratives, but if you’re coming off one of the most story-driven entries in the series to-date…Black and White, for those keeping score at home…a little extra effort would’ve gone a long way.

Outside of the story, the gameplay fares much better, albeit with a few hiccups of its own. The introduction of Fairy-type Pokémon brought a sense of parity to a series that was otherwise dominated by Dragon-types, and Mega Evolution was a good way to breathe new life into some old favorites like Gardevoir and Charizard. (That being said, I do feel like there was some favoritism involved in the development of some Megas; did we really need Mega Garchomp?) On top of that, while the likes of Aegislash, Talonflame and Greninja wore out their welcomes in the eyes of competitive players, the new Pokémon that were introduced this generation are all great additions between their concepts and designs.

Sadly, the fact that there were so few new Pokémon presents a nitpick that I have with Generation VI. X and Y’s combined selection of monsters (as well as that of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire) are curated from past generations to make up for the small number of new ones. This makes Generation VI’s games feel less like a brand new generation, and more like an anthology of the series’ greatest Pokémon. Yes, it does offer players plenty of options for in-game team building, but my point still stands.

On a final note in regards to problems I have with the game, it felt a bit too easy, even by the series’ standards. Part of it does have to do with how the EXP Share works, but it’s not the only factor. (Even though, for what it’s worth, I didn’t find the EXP Share to be all that busted.) Super Training and the benefits you get from Pokémon-Amie, like shrugging off status conditions, also factor in. Once you train and play with your Pokémon, and you have an idea of what’s coming as far as opponents go, beating the main story is a breeze. For instance, I went into the Elite Four with my team at least five levels lower than the champion’s ace, and I still managed to make it through the last fight without losing anybody. Granted, there were one or two moments where things looked dicey, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that beating the champion was fairly simple.

Whatever issues Pokémon X and Y may have had with story and gameplay, it’s tough to deny that Game Freak managed to nail the little things. Kalos is an amazing region to explore, with some incredible locales worth exploring. The soundtrack is phenomenal (try to tell me the theme of Xerneas and Yveltal isn’t epic with a straight face), it looks good, trainer customization is an excellent addition, and Pokémon-Amie is a fun, charming way to interact with your Pokémon companions in ways you never could before.

As far as Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire go, the problem is that I never played the original third generation games when they came out, due to their release coming around the same time I started losing interest in Pokémon as a whole. So I can’t really judge whether or not the remakes are improvements over the originals. That said, I think they’re fine games, all things considered; they build off of what worked in X and Y, while adding features that I’m surprised didn’t make it into those games, like Soaring. The fact that they didn’t include customization for the remakes was a downer, but it doesn’t make it any less of a good game.

Overall, Generation VI of Pokémon was just as I described it earlier: Solid. It did have some growing pains, with the jump to the Nintendo 3DS being chief among them, but it still managed to do enough to succeed in my book. Not for one second do I regret returning to the series with this generation.

I do want to close on one thing that I feel needs to be mentioned. Without name dropping, there are some individuals who are far more passionate about Pokémon than I am who have said that Generation VI felt “soulless.” Now, I’m not going to say that these people are wrong; after all, that’s their opinion, and they’re entitled to it. Having said that, I respectfully disagree with that notion. The fact that you can customize your trainer however you want them to look, as well as the ability to actually interact with your Pokémon partners, shows that there is a soul to these games. Moreso, the problems with Generation VI have nothing to do with a lack of soul so much as they do missed opportunities and the aforementioned growing pains. Sure, X, Y, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire weren’t perfect games, and they made some weird design decisions, but that doesn’t necessarily make them soulless. Make of that what you will, but that’s just my two cents.

So, those are my thoughts on Generation VI of Pokémon. What do I think of what lies ahead for the series? Well, I feel that I’ve talked more than enough here, so we’ll save that topic for another time.

‘Til we meet again,

David, the Goliath

You know, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write about this. At the very least, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write about this until we were deeper into the month of October. But sadly, with the 2016 Boston Red Sox coming up lame at the worst imaginable moment, as much as it hurts me as a fan, this is what things have come to.

The legendary career of David Ortiz…Boston’s beloved Big Papi…is over sooner than most would’ve hoped.

New Englanders knew that this moment was coming for a long time now, even before Ortiz announced he would be wrapping it up a year ago. Sure, there may have been times where it looked like he wasn’t getting long in the tooth…this past season was proof of that…but time catches up to even the best athletes whether they want it to or not. It’s all a matter of ‘when,’ and for David Ortiz, that time is, unfortunately, right now.

It’s disappointing that the Red Sox’ postseason run ended as early as it did. I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that it would’ve been amazing to see the Red Sox send Ortiz off with one more run to a World Series title. But the problem was that the Red Sox were very Jekyll and Hyde-esque all season; they’d be world beaters for one stretch of games, and just as soon as they got hot, they’d go ice cold for another stretch. I could go on about what the Red Sox need to do to improve on what they did right this year, but I’ll leave that to the pro pundits.

For now, let’s focus on Ortiz. And, really, what can be said about this man that already hasn’t been said?

What David Ortiz has done for both the Red Sox and the city of Boston is nothing short of legendary. Among other factors, Ortiz is one of the biggest catalysts for what many would consider a decade-plus modern-day Red Sox Renaissance. A perfect run of trips to the World Series (with Ortiz earning MVP honors in 2013 to boot), five American League Championship Series appearances, and three American League East titles are just outliers for what Ortiz has given the Red Sox since 2003.

He helped end what many considered to be a franchise curse, alleviating the 86-year notion that October always brought disappointment to the streets of Boston, no matter what came the summer before. He lifted the weight of many previous Red Sox players who never tasted the glory of a World Series title, including the greatest BoSox player of all time, Ted Williams. He helped give the Red Sox, and their fans, all they ever wanted and so much more.

What’s most important is that whenever he was available, and injuries weren’t bringing him down, he gave the Red Sox an x-factor, an ace in the hole to pull them out of a tight spot if the need was there. There was a sense, whenever Big Papi came to the batter’s box, that there was still a chance at victory, and he was willing to swing for the fences. It didn’t always work out, but the presence of someone as clutch as Ortiz in any lineup is nothing to scoff at.

Believe it or not, my favorite moment from Ortiz didn’t necessarily come during one of the games. Rather, it came before a game. I refer to, of course, his pre-game speech in 2013. A few days after the Boston Marathon bombings, and one after a day-long manhunt for one of the bombers, Ortiz took a microphone and proclaimed that Boston was “our [Bleep]ing city, and nobody gonna dictate our freedom,” all while thanking the late Thomas Menino and Boston Police for their work. It goes to show that Ortiz’ love for Boston didn’t just stop at the Red Sox, but to the entire city itself. He cared for the city, and its people; just as the fans came to love him, Ortiz came to love the fans.

Even the FCC, of all organizations, was okay with Ortiz cursing like that on live television. That should tell you something.

True, Ortiz’s temper may not have put him in the best light at times. Camden Yards’ grounds crew can attest to that after one of their dugout phones became a target of his rage. Otherwise, Ortiz has been nothing short of classy with the Red Sox, and that classiness has been the one constant the Sox have had for so long.

Again, I truly wish that I could’ve written this later in the month, and maybe in a more positive light if the Red Sox won the World Series. But sadly, it is what it is. David Ortiz took his last curtain call at Fenway Park Monday evening, and ended what will go down in Red Sox history as one of the greatest careers by any player to don the uniform.

I end this piece off with a message to the man himself. Mr. Ortiz…Big Papi…I don’t know if you’ll ever find this message among the many you have received from fans, friends and family by this point.  But regardless, I want to say what many have already said. Thank you for all the fun times, the walkoff home runs, and the clutch moments. Thank you for revolutionizing the culture of Red Sox Nation, and giving fans a reason to believe against the odds. Thank you for being the one the Red Sox, and the city of Boston, needed most of all when times looked dark. For all that you’ve done for this team, this city, and so much more…

Thank you.

‘Til we meet again,

A New Beginning

Allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Thomas Lydon, the man behind “The Mind of Lydon.” Or, if brevity is more your thing, you can simply call me Tom. I like to think of myself as a number of different things; one of them, as you can tell from reading this, is a writer. Writing in general has been a major part of my life ever since I was a kid. From poems in elementary school to articles in newspapers, I’ve been sharpening my skills as a writer for several years. It hasn’t received much in the way of recognition, but then again, I write more out of a love of the craft instead of a desire for recognition.

What else is there to know about me? Well, among other things, I consider myself to be:

  • A sports fan, particularly of Boston-based teams
  • A video game enthusiast
  • A music lover
  • A smalltime philosopher
  • A minor funnyman
  • A dreamer
  • A straight man…most of the time, anyway
  • An overall geek

There’s much more to me than that, but for the sake of trying to hit a sweet spot between a long and short introduction, that’s just a sample size of who I am. Rest assured, future blogs will be much longer than this. However, the most important thing to keep in mind with me is that what you are going to get out of this blog, whatever the subject might be and whatever my stance might be, is 100% honest. I’m all for different perspectives, but I’m not the kind of person that panders to certain audiences and tells them what they want to hear; my feeling is that in doing that, you’re not being honest with yourself, nor are you being honest with your audience. I get that there are subjects and topics that may upset some people, and that’s perfectly fine. I can’t change how people feel about different subjects. but at the end of the day, what I ultimately want to do is be honest with what I write, both to myself and my audiences.

With all of that in mind, I feel it’s time to take my skill in writing, and all that I am as a person, to a new level. That’s where this blog comes in. It’ll have a little bit of everything; sports posts for sports people, gaming posts for gaming people, and some posts in-between for everyone else. Sometimes, i may even answer your questions as part of a blog. I want to try and reach as wide of an audience as possible with this page, instead of being a one-trick pony. It’s bound to be a learning experience for me, but one that will be just as enjoyable as it is insightful. And my hope is that you will come along with me for the journey.

So, after reading all of this, I hope you’ll stick around; as the old saying goes, the best is yet to come.

‘Til we meet again,