Any of you who read my blog on a regular basis may already know this, but I love summer. I love the fact that it’s warm and not 20˚ below zero…for a little while anyway. I love the warm breeze, and the way it sounds as it rustles through the leaves way up in the maple trees. I love catching the fireflies and listening to the crickets. But as much as I truly love all these things, there is one thing about summer that shall always have a far greater claim on my heart: the day that my Boston boys of summer come back to Fenway to either bring me the utmost joy, or break my heart yet again.
Yes, that’s right. Despite all my talk about romance and poetry, I love baseball, and most especially the Boston Red Sox. It has always been a love of mine..something that even as a young girl (who was anything but a tomboy) I loved to watch. I would savour each moment that Roger Clemens (the traitor…) pitched, and would hope beyond all hope that this would be the year. Of course, it never was (I’m sure in some way it was Roger’s fault…did I mention he’s a blue pin-stripe clad traitor?). Season after season went by, and despite my total devotion to and love of my team, I was met with heartache and dejection. I loved that team with every ounce of my being, but despite that love and adoration, I was never to gain anything in return. Perhaps this is where my sentimental notions of romanticism stem…who knew that baseball could have such romance surrounding it! SIGH!
I’m not really sure where this love of the Fenway boys started. I come from a very long line of New York Yankee fans….VERY long line. I grew up in upstate New York near a goodly portion of my extended family, so it stands to reason that we’d all be Yankee fans. I remember sitting on my grandfather’s lap when I was about 7 or 8 watching the Yankees game, and he telling me that someday he’d take me to the House that Ruth built to watch that great team play. I smiled sweetly, for I adored my grandfather and would do anything to make him happy, and told him that would be the most wonderful thing ever…inwardly, little did he know that I prayed those nasty, vile beings in blue pin-stripes would be playing MY boys in red socks, and that we’d beat the tar out of them. Even then, I knew the difference between good and evil…and the New York Yankees were evil despite what my poor grandfather thought. To this day, I still hate the look of blue pin-stripes, even if it’s only a dress shirt on one of my sons.
My grandfather was never able to take me to that game, and as the years went on, I kind of moved away from baseball. I still loved the sport, and still would half-heartedly look at the stats to see how my boys were doing, but my heart had been broken one too many times, and everyone knows a girl can only take so much. I stayed away for a while…I couldn’t take that blasted curse, and no one could possibly know how horrendous it was to endure seeing them come so close, only to come crashing down yet again (well, except maybe a few people from Chicago…). I couldn’t bear it. That is, until my eldest son came of age. Something changed in me…for some reason he inherited my love of that team from Boston. It was he who brought me back from my despondancy, and made me remember that when you’re a Boston fan, you are one for better or for worse (even if the worse seemed to always beat out the better ). I’ll never forget it…it was 2004. As he watched and became more and more excited, so did I. It was a wonderful feeling to watch the Sox with my son, and see the game through his eyes, and be a part of his excitement. It brought back so many wonderful memories. But in the back of my head, I kept hearing that nagging little voice: “You know they’re going to blow it, just like they always do…you need to tell him not to get too caught up in the whole thing.” So, foolishly, I did. I wanted to spare him the hurt and the disappointment that I’d lived through a lifetime of. I wanted him to be prepared to have his heart broken like I had so many times before. I told him all of these things, with concern and a mother’s love, and then waited for his answer. “Don’t worry Mom….this is THE Year!” That’s when I knew it was too late. He was already too far gone. So I did what any good mother would do…I decided this was THE Year too. We watched as many games as were televised, and as the season went on, our excitement grew They didn’t totally choke after the All Star Game! Surely this was a sign from above that something good was going to happen…that this was THE Year.
Then came the playoffs (where they came in as a Wild Card team), and then the American League Championship Series. The Sox were playing the Evil Empire, and I must admit I grew concerned. They had Jeter and A-Rod…both good players…just to name a couple. And the Evil Empire had held their own all season for the most part. When we got to game 4 of the series, and the Sox were down 3, I must admit I was anxious. Was it going to happen yet again? After we were so close? No other team had ever come back in a postseason series to win after losing the first 3 games. Surely, it was too much to hope for. But they won…after being trounced by the Yankees in game 3 with a score of 19-8, they came back in game 4 with a win, 6-4. There was still hope!! Game 5 they won by 1 run…5-4. Game 6 was 4-2. By Game 7, you could feel the momentum when Johnny Damon hit that grand slam (another traitor in pin-stripes, I might add…it’s too bad he played such an important role)…they beat the Evil Empire, 10-3. They became the first team in MLB history to come back after losing the first 3 games of a postseason series to win the series. They beat the Yankees to win the American League Championship. They were off to the World Series against the Cardinals.
I think everyone knows the outcome of that World Series. In it, my Sox broke another postseason MLB record by winning 8 straight postseason games…4 straight in the ACLS, and 4 consecutive in the World Series. During that last game, we had company over, that my husband had invited (what can I say…he’s a Dodgers fan), and I finally had to excuse myself to watch. My son and I watched as Keith Foulke caught Renteria’s bounce, and then gracefully throw it to first for the last out of the inning, and the last out of the Series. They won! The Curse was broken! My son and I danced around the room, savouring the moment (I must admit, I was in tears). My team had finally won, and given me back so much from all those years of devotion. And my son wouldn’t have to endure all the heartache that I’d had to endure…he will always be able to look back and say how his team came back from behind, and won in 2004, after 86 long years of waiting for The Year to come.
Now that I have a few sons that are into baseball, and also into the Sox, baseball season is a wondrous thing here at Casa Izz. We live in “Yankee Country” so it’s not always easy rooting for the Sox, but we do it proudly. Right now, the Sox are 10.5 games ahead of the 2nd palce Toronto in the East. Things are looking really good….I think that this really could be THE Year, again. But even if it’s not, I’ll take it, for I am part of the Red Sox Nation, and I’ll stand proudly no matter what the outcome…for better, or for worse. Go Sox!!