I diagnosed myself.
I won’t bore you with the symptoms, but I’m suffering from Red Sox withdrawal.
Yankee fans will not understand, but trust me, this is serious.
It all started four years ago when Frank and I moved to Massachusetts. I’ve always loved baseball. But somehow this time it was different. Of course the famous “James’ World Series Charm” was on the line. We’ve lived in three other U.S. cities since we married, and in all three places the local team won the World Series while we were there.
We were 3 for 3 and primed for a Boston championship.
As the 2013 baseball season escalated, and we geared up for a move to Pennsylvania, I knew the clock was ticking. It was impossible not to track the games—on TV when at home, at Fenway once (when Frank indulged his wife), and on my iPhone NESN app when other options failed. Once we realized our move to Pennsylvania would be happening in stages (due to a slow real estate market in our neck of the woods), and my dispensational childhood fears of being “left behind” became reality, nightly Red Sox games became a saving grace.
So when the Sox won the American League Pennant and were heading to the World Series, I laughed out loud when one of the local sports announcers said, “This championship has been four years in the making!”
Four years! Little did he know.
Who would imagine such a season? It was a complete reversal of the disastrous 2012 season and was profoundly marked by the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings and a team suddenly inspired, not merely by desire to win the World Series, but to play a part in restoring normalcy and inspiring confidence to a shattered Boston. It was an unforgettable year, and as much as I enjoyed the big win, I hated to see it all end.
They say a tendency to addiction is hereditary. I believe it. My addiction to Red Sox baseball can be traced on both sides of my family tree. My paternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother were baseball addicts—to the Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Dodgers respectively. One of my three brothers—a die-hard Rangers fan—has a collection of baseball trophies that proves some members of the family have a bigger problem with this than others.
But to look on the bright side, there’s a lot to be said about this year’s Red Sox, and some of these will preach!
- Big—really big—beards are in! One journalist called it “a bizarre bonding exercise that has come to define the team and its season.” It made some of the Red Sox look like gnomes, and some of those beards were pretty pathetic. But who can complain? The more and longer the beards grew, the better the team played.
[I’m hoping Frank doesn’t take this too seriously. I love his beard, but things could easily get out of control. I’m just sayin’.]
- Spitting is in too. Baseball players may have given up chewing tobacco, but they can’t seem to curb the habit of spitting. By the end of the game, the dugout must look like the bottom of a bird cage. I wish someone would explain this to me. Does this only happen during games? Or do these guys also spit at home? Why does this problem seem only to happen to baseball players?
- The ninth inning walk-off-win isn’t fun at all when the opposing team is celebrating. [I learned this the hard way.]
- Adult male fans behave badly when a baseball lands in the stands anywhere near them. It sets a terrible example for kids to see grown men selfishly shoving and pushing like that.
- Catchers paint their fingernails bright yellow to make it easier for pitchers to read their signs. [Someone needs to tell them neon pink might work even better.]
- Every at bat is a potential game changer. Which may explain why players refuse to quit when they’re in a slump—even when their own fans are booing. Who knows? This may be the at bat when everything will change.
- Teamwork is everything. No doubt the beards helped, but this year’s Red Sox took teamwork to a whole new level. On this team, every player counted and was expected by his teammates to give the game no less than 100%. Some Red Sox players sat in the dugout for the entire World Series. But every one of them contributed to getting the Sox there in the first place.
- The manly way to express approval is to yank another man’s beard . . . hard. This seems incomprehensible to me. I suspect some players will struggle with neck injuries when they retire. Still, real men seem to like this. [I wonder if “Act Like a Man” conferences have picked up on this yet?]
- It’s a badge of honor to be wearing a dirty uniform at the end of the game. Second baseman, 5’7″ Dustin Pedroia, always had dirt on his uniform, usually from the first inning. That just how hard he always played.
- The Frank and Carolyn baseball charm is alive and well! We’re 4 for 4 and counting. I know some Phillies fans who are excited about this. I’m not making any promises and I’m really struggling with the expectation that I’ll be shifting my baseball loyalties.
So, to help myself cope with withdrawal, I went out and bought myself a copy of the 2013 World Series Special Commemorative Issue—Red Sox Strong which is loaded with pictures, stats, quotes, and the history of this year’s world champion Red Sox. It was the closest I could come to a nicotine patch.
I’m feeling better already.