Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fairweather Johnson

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!


Sherpa said...

Eh, my family has been rooting for the Yankees for 50 years and yet we get called bandwagon fans because the only real connection to New York is a great aunt from Buffalo. People are silly.

Miss Hass said...

Thanks for articulating why I'm so homesick for somewhere I only lived for two years. Unless you were there, I don't think you can possibly understand why Fever Pitch makes me teary-eyed.

chloe elizabeth said...

You almost make me want to start watching baseball. Almost.

And I will admit that I would happily jump on that bandwagon if it were in the name of being social. I'll do almost anything for that reason. Okay, not anything. But lots of things.

Mike said...

gbpnrgHere's a contradiction...I love watching baseball (in person that is) any "outdoor" any time of the year.

But one thing I have neverevernever done is watch a game from start to finish on the tube....whether it's Opening Day or the World Series, I cannot watch baseball from start to finish on tv.

Boy this sounds corny, but there's something "magical" ("magical" ??!?) about watching pregame batting practice, some pregame fungo....and the people watching is out of this world at a baseball almost beats the airport scene.

Let's see, the closest playoff game to me is either Phoenix or Chicago...wonder if I can make the trip ????

linds said...

Go Yankees! I've been born and raised a fan and will die a fan. Happy October!

Whits said...

I got chills reading your account of 2004. I was still in UT but had been rooting for the sox since my brother moved there in 98 and became a huge fan. People accuse me of being a bandwagon jumper too. I haven't abandoned the giants and they will always be my team, but I love the sox.

I was going to post today about how great a feeling it is to walk into/out of/be in fenway with all that energy and excitement. When I left the park while walking home I had about 10 people ask me if the sox won, the score, and if I went to the game. Its infectious! And oh so fun, even though we won in 2004, everyone is still super excited about this year.

k8 said...

i was listening to the game in the car last night and when i could hear the crowd singing "sweet caroline", which i LOVE...that's when I texted you to see if you were at the game. i just really wanted to be there.

p.s. my very first sox game was with your bro. awwww.

Mega N! said...

Wow you've given me a reason to disapprove of the Red Socks even further.

'BELIEVE' is the decade old Baltimore slogan meant to invoke ownership, responsibility and hope into a community in some really dire straits. The Red Socks franchise uses it to sell some T-shirts. Phiibbt!

I do agree with the need to connect with a greater over arching aspect of an urban community. The difference is when I wear my Orioles tee into work people sigh in relief, "I'm not the only one!"

aporitic said...

Good ol' Baltimore - it's like the red-headed stepchild of American cities.

ThomCarter said...

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time

B. said...

Good post, CB.