CLEVELAND -- Jon Lester's son, Hudson, is just 2 1/2 years old and still shielded, blissfully, from the wicked ways of the world. In Lester's house, the TV is rarely tuned to anything other than "Barney & Friends" or cartoons. If children are a window into the grace of the world, that window is wide open for the Lesters.
Thankfully, then, Lester and his wife, Farrah, don't yet have to discuss with young Hudson those awful scenes that played out Monday afternoon at the Boston Marathon finish line, just 30 minutes from the Lester home and just a mile and a half up the road from where Daddy pitches for the Red Sox.
"Try explaining it to yourself, let alone your kids," Lester said with a sigh in the visitors' clubhouse at Progressive Field, where the Red Sox beat the Indians, 7-2, in the opener on Tuesday while their heartbroken home city tried to regroup. "The majority of the guys in here, we've asked ourselves, 'Why does this stuff keep happening?' And it's pointless."
They asked themselves those questions at dinner upon their arrival here Monday night, mere hours after learning about the bombings while aboard the team bus for the trip to the airport. When their police escort sped away from Fenway Park and left them behind, the members of the Red Sox players knew something was up, and the details began filtering through social media and text messages.
And so here they were Tuesday, sharing their stories about where they were when they heard the news and how the joy of a sweep over the Rays was quickly erased by sorrow and concern. Here they were, instinctively looking up at CNN's coverage as they headed to the batting cage or trainer's room. Here was the Indians' clubhouse staff, finding black arm bands to sew on the road grays. Here were the conversations about how maybe baseball will provide a worthwhile distraction from the devastation. Here was the flag flying at half-staff, and here was the moment of silence before the national anthem.
Oh, God, here we go again, trudging through an unimaginable tragedy as best we can, asking ourselves, "Why?"
"I understand we live in an evil world," said the Indians' Justin Masterson, a former member of the Red Sox, "but it's just sad that any person would think of or want to do anything like that."
Sadness yields to strength in moments like these. It's the only way we keep our sanity, frankly. And we find strength in numbers.
Already, folks in and around Beantown have latched upon the Red Sox logo as a symbol for their city at large. The Boston "B" intertwined with a yellow ribbon honoring the victims of the heinous attack is making the rounds, as is a photo of the Red Sox players gathered together here, holding that sign with the same "B," the word "Strong" and a Standells-inspired caption, "Boston, you're OUR home."
In New York, the Daily News ran an editorial cartoon depicting a Yankees player with his arm wrapped around a Red Sox player -- a touching display of unexpected and much-welcomed brotherhood. And the Indians played "Sweet Caroline" -- that staple of the Fenway experience -- just before first pitch Tuesday, a nod to Bostonians everywhere.
We've been here before. The baseball world at its best, rallying in the unsettling wake of a terrorist attack.
But that doesn't make it any easier.
"You can't even describe how you feel," Dustin Pedroia said. "All of us -- that bus ride was silent. It's still hard to put together."
They're gathered here together to play a boys' game -- a game that will take on added meaning and magnitude when the Red Sox return home to Fenway on Friday. The good people of Boston will report to that sacred shrine of sport, and together they'll try to move past the pain and paranoia that the Patriots' Day explosions wrought. Their world, once again, will feel more tense and less innocent, and they'll hope, once again, that a communal experience will double as a healing one.
This game is played every day from April through October, so we lean on it often, ask it to be something stable and steady in a world that is too often the opposite. The Red Sox are a good team, a likeable team. Boston's team. And in these unsettling hours, as we all ask ourselves those unanswerable questions, they've got a lot of people pulling for them.