“You around tonight? Going to watch Sox/Yanks at MB.”

“I have to cover the Colby-Thomas game.”

“Also a big game. If you get done in time swing by, we’ll be there.”

“OK.”

That’s a text message exchange I had with my friend Gary Socquet around 3 p.m. April 10. MB is Mainely Brews, our usual hangout. If Gary referred to MB or simply, “the bar,” you knew he meant Mainely Brews.

I did make it to Mainely Brews that night. The Red Sox and Yankees were in the late innings, and the Sox were well on their way to a 14-1 win over the Yankees in their first meeting of the season.

When I arrived, there was no celebration. Right about the time Mookie Betts was hitting a grand slam over the Green Monster in the bottom of the sixth inning to cap a nine-run outburst and push Boston’s lead to 13 runs, I was finding out that Gary had collapsed at the bar and was dead. He was 49.

I spent the remainder of that game at a table in Mainely Brews, too numb to enjoy the Red Sox rout. Too shocked to be sad.

That game was the last in the nine-game win streak that set the tone for the season for the Red Sox. At the end of April they were 21-7 and well on their way to a dominant regular season, the kind of which none of us have seen, unless you were alive in 1946 and old enough to remember watching Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky and the rest of that team romp through the American League.

As I write, this the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers have yet to play game seven of the National League Championship Series. I have no idea which team will be at Fenway Park to face Boston when the World Series begins Tuesday night. I don’t really care.

I’m thinking of how much Gary would have loved this team. I’m thinking about how much it sucks that he’s not here to enjoy this run. Other friends and I have talked about this many times. It comes up after a big win. It’s come up these past couple weeks, as the Sox made quick work of the Yankees and Astros to get out of the American League playoffs.

Gary would have loved this team. So we love it even more in his absence. Anybody tells you this season is a failure if the Red Sox don’t finish the job and win the World Series is petty and petulant and has no idea how healing something like baseball can be.

You ever have that friend who seemed to know a little about everything? That was Gary. The guy could have an intelligent conversation about anything. And he enjoyed holding court, offering opinion and analysis to anyone who cared to listen, and to some who cared not to.

Over the years, we shared many conversations, some meaningful, many forgetful, but the ones I cherish now are when Gary and I talked about the Red Sox. The team has a way of slipping into conversation effortlessly. Talking about the Sox with an old friend is like putting on a favorite t-shirt. It always fits, and damn the occasion. Midsummer pennant race? Of course. Midwinter cold snap? Well, spring training is starting soon. How do you think the Sox will look?

Boston’s 2013 run to the championship will always be special for the way it helped the region cope with the Boston Marathon bombings. I will cherish watching Game 6 of the ALCS with Gary at Mainely Brews. I’ll laugh at the way he incredulously dismissed another patron who asked that the television above the bar be changed to college football. I’ll remember the joy we shared when Shane Victorino hit the seventh inning grand slam to put the Sox on top. I’ll remember the celebration almost two weeks later, when the Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the World Series to clinch the title.

I have no idea if the Red Sox will finish the job. Given what they’ve shown us for six months, I like their chances. Brewers, Dodgers, it doesn’t matter.

Gary would’ve loved this team. So his friends will love it even more.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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