Thursday, October 16, 2008

These Are Bitter October Days

As a fan, you have tremendous power.

As a fan, you serve many roles, act as a Jack-of-all-trades, and wear many hats (figuratively, of course) for your team. If your team is down three runs in the bottom of the 9th with two on and two out, you're a shot of adrenaline to your team as you scream in the stands, and you're likely sacrificing your ability to speak for a day or two.

As a fan, if your team scores five times in the 8th to take the lead after trailing all game, and you were sitting in a towel on your couch with one arm behind your head during the rally, you better get used to that breeze you feel -- no sane fan is moving an inch until the game ends.

As a fan, you're a bodyguard for your team's logo, defending it against all takers. And you develop superhuman powers during games, channeling some spiritual presence from another dimension gained only when wearing a backwards, inside-out, never-been-washed-since-you-bought-it-in-1995 baseball cap. You can call it Karma, call it Fate, or call it Luck. But you better not call it "just a game." On second thought, just don't speak at all without knocking on wood.

You do it all as a fan, and with a great many roles comes a great deal of power.

I am a Yanks fan, and tonight, my hat is hanging on the wall. I haven't worn it in October for the first time since girls had cooties. Where is my power during these playoffs? I've been deriving my baseball pleasure from the pounding that Tampa Bay has delivered to Boston. Yet this pleasure ended abruptly with a Big Papi blast in the 7th, then another by JD Drew in the 8th. A 7-0 lead is now 7-6, and I've realized something -- no matter where I sit on the couch, "my team" (TB) isn't responding. Their pitchers keep throwing balls. No matter which hand I sit on, or how many times I tap my foot before a pitch, the Rays keep surrendering hits.

If the wheels come off entirely, and Boston wins this game -- hell, if they win this series -- I'll be bitter. But seeing the Rays beat the Sox three games this series left a bitter taste anyway, once all my sneering and chuckling was finished.

It's 7-7 now. I could actually hear the cheers from Fenway as the Sox tied it up. My nemeses live that close. Tampa seems to be losing control by the second, and I've already sat in every possible position in my apartment like some sort of sports Kama Sutra. Nothing is working. My powers as a fan are gone.

If the Rays manage to win, either tonight or back in Tampa Bay, I'm sure I'll be elated. I guess I genuinely wish bad things on the Sox. I know it doesn't make sense if I chant "Red Sox suck" when my team didn't just beat the Red Sox, but I can't help it. I feel so irrationally angry towards another team, even though I'm not a real fan of their opponent. I feel bitter, vendictive, impotent, and frustrated.

But hey, I'm in Boston -- guess I'm starting to fit in.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

All You Need Is Love

I recently stumbled upon the following quote: "I fell in love with Boston, so hopefully I'll be here for a long time." - Jonathan Damon


I love this quote for two reasons. First, Johnny Damon not only resembled a Neanderthal during his days with the Red Sox, but he actually talks like a primitive human being. Seriously. The next time he's interviewed, close your eyes and try as hard as possible to imagine the speaker without a massive underbite. You can't do it. This is a man that out-earns an English teacher before noon every single day.

Anyways, the second reason I love this quote is because Damon -- now a Yankee (sort of) -- hit the nail on the head. Boston is easy to fall in love with. It's like the beautiful girl next door: approachable, not too intimidating, and fun without being too insane. But this week, I noticed something about my brand new love. She's got some terrible issues she manages to hide until I get back to my bedroom (typical).

You see, out my window, rising just west of my happy place, sits Fenway Park. (Remember in the movie The Girl Next Door when Emile Hirsch finds out that Elisha Cuthbert is actually a porn star? Well this is exactly the same, only replace "porn star" with "Satan.")

Here's my average evening on the night of a Sox game:
6:00 p.m. -- Leave work happy, upbeat, optimistic about life.
6:15 p.m. -- Wedge myself in between 8 Sox fans who keep yelling, "Wicked!" and 4 drunk college girls who keep yelling, "Papelbon!"
6:30 p.m. -- Arrive home. Begin drinking heavily.

After each game, fans walk or drive slowly away from Fenway, Sox gear as far as the eye can see (from my window). When I see this, and I see the lights of that cursed ballpark, it's like all the warmth and happiness of the world has suddenly been sucked away.

With this weighing over me all week, I invited over my old friend Pat for a few drinks on my roof deck to make myself feel better. From up there, I can look above the Sox fans to the open sky as the sun sets, to the Pru and the John Hancock building as their windows gradually light with the coming darkness. I can feel a cool breeze and take stock of what's really important in my life, in my new apartment, and in my new home that I'm trying so hard to love despite her flaws. Because that's what love is. Love is about forgiveness. Love is about making that extra effort. Love is about compromise.

"Great view, isn't it?" I asked Pat.

"Just wait 'til the playoffs," he said. "The Pru puts up a big 'Go Sox' sign."

Love stinks.

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