My first car was a 1984 Corolla with 120,000 miles. It got me and my college buddies from point A to point B, but it wasn't exactly a precision driving machine.
Slam the gas in fifth gear and it popped into neutral. Run the radio with the windshield wipers, and every down swipe produced ear-splitting static. Splash through a puddle and the brakes might disengage for one or two terrifying seconds. My mom derisively called it, "The buggy."
By 1996, the buggy barely functioned. It needed new exhaust, rainwater pooled under the pedals, and it had just crapped out on Route 1 in North Attleborough, gliding helpfully to a stop at the only garage within five miles. I knew its time had come, but sentimentally, I couldn't let go.
When I finally accepted reality, I sold it to someone in the Norton Grove for like 500 bucks and bought a much newer Nissan Sentra, which caught fire with me in it three years later (but that's a story for another day). All good things must end, and the Corolla had served honorably.
I bring this up because it got me thinking about another vehicle badly in need of retirement, and that is the Red Sox home run cart.
In the annals of unique baseball celebrations, this one has inevitably outlived its welcome. Red Sox outfielders shelved their Win, Dance, Repeat celebration after two years during spring training in 2018. The respective heydays of the Twins' Homer Hankies and the Angels' Rally Monkey have long since passed. Eventually, even Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco stopped bashing.
So if there is one anachronism during this 2022 Red Sox season to nowhere, it's the stubborn insistence on Tunnel Time after home runs.
The laundry cart ride that started in relative anonymity during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season caught fire last year during an improbable run to the American League Championship Series. It became the center of marketing campaigns and a common reaction shot during the playoffs, the lucky hitter NASCAR'ed through a cheering cathedral of teammates.
The Sox probably would've been best served leaving it in the rearview mirror entering this season, but they instead doubled down by adding money guns to the experience in a wanton display of excess (albeit with fake currency, to be clear) that thankfully did not last.
Until mashing three homers in Tuesday's 5-3 victory over the Reds, the Red Sox hadn't actually gone deep in a week, their last shots coming on Sept. 13 against the Yankees, when Triston Casas and Reese McGuire got cart rides for their first Red Sox blasts.
Since then, the club has released catcher Kevin Plawecki, one of the originators of the celebration. Perhaps it's no coincidence that after Rob Refsnyder, J.D. Martinez, and Rafael Devers homered on Tuesday in Cincinnati in the first game of the post-Plawecki Era, no one got a ride. Whether it continues, I'm told, will be up to the players.
If this is the official end of Tunnel Time, it certainly served its purpose, providing a visual cue to recall the overachieving 2021 Red Sox. It should've rolled into history with that team, but these things tend to overstay their welcomes, and the Red Sox have never excelled at turning the page.
Speaking of which, a solid 10 years after I sold that Corolla, I saw someone driving it around the Norton Reservoir. Or at least I think I did. Good memories die hard.