It's baseball playoff time and I'm thrilled that my Red Sox started off the series against the Angels with a big fat win.
My friend was lightly ribbing me today about being a bandwagon jumper seeing as how I only became a Boston fan back in 2004, the year the Sox won the World Series. My knee-jerk defense is that I was actually a Massachusetts RESIDENT at the time and as a Utah native, it's not like I was abandoning a hometeam in favor of the world champs. And frankly, I was an Orange County resident when the Angels won THEIR World Series and I didn't jump on that fan train so obviously, I'm pretty authentic.
So that's the knee jerk. But there is a deeper connection then just geography between the Sox and me. I only lived in Boston for two years but they were two really dramatic years. In October of 2004 I was in the midst of a massively disappointing boy experience and there was an undercurrent of sadness to much of that fall and winter. However, there were also a few budding friendships at that time, looking for an excuse to blossom. Although I had lived in a World Champion city before, nothing prepares you for playoff season in Boston. I am not exaggerating when I say that EVERYONE is watching baseball in October. Everyone at work, everyone at church, my roomates, strangers on the T, every bar, every restaurant, every small child-they all get Red Sox fever. So you almost have to be an anti-social fun hater not to join in. Add to the fever the feeling that we were SO CLOSE to a World Series the year before and all the talk of the Curse of Babe Ruth and the looooong drought since the last Championship and well, there is a reason they set the movie "Fever Pitch" in Boston.
So you take one sad little girl needing a major distraction, a collection of random kids all sort of looking for a group to join, and a team you seriously couldn't help but fall in love with and the stage was set for one amazing month. I watched games in crowded Irish pubs, in college sports bars, in living rooms, on restaurants televisions. I got text messages from friends who actually went to the games. Corey and I had tickets to a concert the night of the famous Game 4 against the Yankees. We watched a couple of innings before the show figuring the Sox were cooked, then ended up going to the show for one song and coming back to watch our boys pull it out in the 12th inning. I danced in Harvard Square under a full moon the night the Sox swept the Cardinals. And somewhere in the course of that month, a bunch of people I only sort of knew became close friends that I'm delighted to say are ALL still in my life.
I won't say that the World Series cured my sadness because it didn't. There were still lots of dark months ahead. But I will say that there was something almost magic about what the Red Sox did that year and I think that magic rubbed off on all of us a little. No one thought they could come back from losing three games to the Yankees. But Boston was covered in "BELIEVE" stickers. It was like some kind of athletic revival meeting everywhere you went. Those fans who had rooted for their team in vain for years and years and years were simply unwilling to give up. The Red Sox happened to be a really great team that year but I'm not going to discount the effect of the collective faith of an entire city on their ability to pull off a pretty miraculous comeback. If that series had been a movie, we all would have rolled our eyes at the improbability. But it did happen and for me, it was a nice reminder that even seemingly impossible situations can have really killer endings.
Furthermore, I think my little teaser forgot that it was the 2004 Angels-Sox series and the bi-coastal e-mail fued it inspired that was the genesis of OUR friendship.
So yeah, I guess I'm unabashedly on the Red Sox bandwagon.
Here is a cover of The Standell's "Dirty Water' by former Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo. Cameos by several other Sox as well and a bunch of fun references to great moments from the 2004 playoffs.
Boston, You're My Home!