My Last Word on Baseball – Ever

It is my moral
duty to take full and personal responsibility for the loss
of the American League Championship Series to the Doughboys
of Doom, the New York Yankees. If you are interested, below are the reasons
for my direct responsibility, and a solemn promise that this is
the last I will write about the Red Sox – ever.

Fitfully, the Dowbrigade tossed and turned, trying unsuccessfully to
take a siesta and chill his fevered brain, which was awash
in raw emotions rooted in his dearest dreams and deepest hatreds. I was
to rest up and gather my forces, meager though they were, to keep my
fragile psyche in one piece and focus my full psychic energies on the
upcoming climatic clash between the charismatic hometown Sox and the
universally detested New York Yankees.

Arising from my fevered bed in a daze I went to the computer and autoblogged
straight from somewhere deep in my subconscious
. I couldn’t see straight,
I couldn’t think straight, but I suddenly knew I had to get to the Thursday
night blogger’s session
at the Berkman Center, because the week before
I had skipped the meeting and stayed home to watch the game, and of course
the Sox had lost.

So I gathered my scattered wits and left to take the bus and two trains
which would bring me to Harvard Square. From there the evening unrolled
as though a dream. My mind had been blitzed into a bizarre altered state
in which everything transpired as though I was a character in a play,
once removed from reality, reading my lines and waiting for my cues to
move on to the next scene.

And I had just blogged the

Somehow I staggered into the brightly lit corner room where Dave Winer
was leading his jolly gang of blogsters through their Thursday night
paces. Dave gave me my cue as he recoiled in shock and surprise. "What
are You doing here? I thought we wouldn’t see you until next week. Aren’t
you going to watch the game?"

I recited my lines from memory, with feeling, ""Well, Dave,
I would much prefer to pass this evening with you guys than watching
the game of the century, because YOU, Dave, have not let me down EVERY
for the past 32 years. Because you, my friend, would never RIP my HEART
from my chest and stomp it into the dirt behind home plate!"

Stunned silence. It was obvious I was close to the edge, teetering before
some vast emotional abyss. Somehow I sat through the first part of the
meeting. I can’t really remember what went on, or whether, if I said
anything at all, I made any sense. Shortly after 8, on cue, I mumbled
something about finding a neighborhood bar and casting my hopes and dreams
in with a bunch of inebriated undergraduates.

Here the script took an unexpected turn, as Dave and the gang seemed
to have reached an unspoken consensus to accompany me on my quest and
reconvene somewhere with access to the game. Whether they had a sincere
interest in the outcome, were worried about my mental health, or simply
didn’t want to miss the exhibition of Dowbrigade disintegration which
probably seemed at that point inevitable, remains unclear to me.

So we hit the streets of Cambridge, eight intrepid blogging fools, looking
to crash a Playoff Party at some bar or restaurant with enough seats,
beer and screenage to meet our basic needs.

Of course, everyplace we stuck our mangy heads was packed to the rafters
and rip roaring with edgy emotion and out-of-control hormones. The burger
and beer joint on the corner was packed; the Thai, Mexican and upscale
yuppie bars were so full the crowds were spilling out onto the sidewalk.
If fact, there were almost impenetrable knots of chain-smoking fans in
front of each bar or restaurant, nervously peering through the windows
for a glimpse of the glowing tubes suspended within.

Someone suggested heading for the heart of the Square and trusting to
fate. At that point I was simply following the flow, incapable of independent
action. Across Mass Ave from the Law School our posse suddenly stopped,
transfixed by the view through a great bay window into the living room
of a private home at the edge of the campus. They had a humongous projection
TV image completely covering the far wall and achingly visible from the
sidewalk. Inside, a couple of young adults seemed to be throwing a nerf
football around with a small child of 6 or 7. I felt like the ragamuffin
orphan huddled against the swirling snow, peering through a window at
the warm and affluent family gathered around their Christmas tree.

In an inspired burst of cheeky aplomb, the Kid, a charter member of the
Thursday Thugs, actually rang the doorbell and proposed some sort of
Faustian bargain to the hapless family, who unfortunately had the good
sense to send us on our way once again.
We ended up in an Indian restaurant somewhere near JFK street. By this
point I was a near-basket case, almost completely oblivious to my surroundings.
But my attention was immediately magnetized by the wide-screen, flat-panel
TV behind the small bar. It was the top of the second inning.

At the far end of the bar, tucked right up against the screen, was an
empty bar stool, turned sideways to get it out of the line of sight.
I immediately wedged my quivering body into the seat and plunged full
bore into an in-my-face (if slightly distorted) high-definition virtual
Yankee Stadium.

Dave and the rest of the gang hung in the foyer, watching from a distance
and waiting for a table. Trot Nixon was at the plate. Food was the furthest
thing from my mind. Facetiously, Dave said, "Don’t worry. He’s
going to hit a home run." At that moment the group was awarded a
table. "Come give us a report if anything exciting happens," said
Dave as he wandered off.

I turned back to the screen and Trot promptly hit the next pitch deep
into tech outfield seats for a two run Sox lead. Dave hadn’t even been
seated yet when I found myself jumping up and down in front of him shouting, "You
called it! He hit a home run! How did you know?"
But it was still early, and of all the hoary sports adages, "its
not over till its over" is the most agonizingly accurate. There
followed two hours of the excruciating ecstasy known only occasionally
by the
true sports fan, a brief period out of time when the world stops turning
and existence hinges on a phosphorescent image painted on riveted retinas.
The restaurant was closing, only a few tortured fans remaining huddled
around the set at the bar.

Finally, the eighth inning arrived. Pedro was still on the mound, but
he was flagging. The Yankees had runners on first and third. I knew the
fateful moment had come, the moment I had dreaded, feared, and tried
in vain to avoid or deny. The outcome of the game and the fate of the
Red Sox season depended on what I, the Dowbrigade, did during the next
few crucial moments.

I had foreseen this happening, in my tortured vision blogged just hours
earlier, and I knew what I had to do, for the good of the team and cosmic
balance in the universe. I couldn’t watch another pitch. I had to make
the ultimate sacrifice, and get up and walk away. I had to, as I had
written earlier, hours before the game, "drain my last beer and
stagger out into the chilly Cambridge night, ready to let the baseball
gods have their way with me and the assembled multitudes, content to
wait until the morning to find out the answer to the question he most
wants answered, at that moment, in the whole wide world." If only
I could be content to let things be, they would be all right. Only by
letting go could I grasp that which I most deeply desired.

Dave obviously thought I was demented. How could I walk away at the climatic
moment? How could I call myself a fan if I abandoned my team in the breach?
How could I explain? He sensed that I needed to be left alone, and with
a sympathetic pat on the back, ambled off, listening to the radio broadcast
of the game on his headphones.

I was really in the stratosphere now. I hadn’t been so out of touch with
my body since the time I mixed angel dust with horse tranquilizer, by
mistake. Actually, I think that happened pretty much in exact same spot,
only 30 years earlier. For a Red Sox fan, much of life is a series of
gut-wrenching flashbacks.

I found my way into the subway, my mind jumping around like a dead frog
twitching to electroshocks in a high-school biology lab. I put on my
own headphones and cued up some calming tunes, King Crimson’s Islands
CD (ripped of course). By the time the train reached Malden I had ascended
to some loftier place, almost completely above trite worldly affairs
like baseball games and petty curses. Almost completely.

It was nearly midnight, and the busses at that hour run irregularly if
at all, so I began to walk home, calm and content in the knowledge that
I had done everything in my power to karmicly put my team over the top.
I had followed the script, walked away from the table at the moment of
maximum mania, trusted the universe to have its way with my world. Tomorrow
would come soon enough.

The streets of Malden were eerily silent. The part of my mind that hadn’t
completely transcended took this as a bad sign. Had the Boston nine won,
the street would have been awash in raucous celebration. The silence
was worse than eerie. Win or lose, where were all the people? Maybe,
was it possible, the game was still on? And there entered the seed of
doubt that would prove my downfall, and that of my cherished team.

I quickened my pace, not wanting to even think about the possibilities.
Of course, failed guru that I am, I was unable to control my thoughts.
Maybe there HAD BEEN another hour of baseball left after the eight inning.
Maybe my reward for walking away was to get to watch the triumphant ending
on my very own set, in the privacy of my home, where I could get naked
and set myself on fire in celebration.

I entered the house not daring to hope. My teenaged son rushed out of
his room as I entered. "What a game!" he exclaimed.

Who won?" I managed to blurt, out of breath and my mind.

It’s still going on!" he cried, and I was doomed. Why, oh, why,
could I not have been true to my vision. Why did I lack the will, the
resolve, the spine, the clarity to trust the universe and smile sweetly
at my son, and say, "Well, I’m sure everything will work out. See
you in the morning."

But NOOOOO, my arm shot out in a knee-jerk reflex like a politician at
a fancy fund-raiser, and hit the power button on the TV. Just like Lot’s
wife I couldn’t resist, I didn’t think, I lost control.

The photons congealed into a discernable image just in time for me to
see a lonely white orb arching out of Yankee stadium and into the sorry
history of failure that is the Red Sox legacy. I literally did not see
the bat strike the ball, but I got to witness the exact final instant
of this magnificent travesty of a season. As that baseball left the park
and ended the game it took with it whatever pathetic piece of my soul
was still able to root for the hometown team.

I believe in my true heart that if I had been able to transcend desire
and temptation and wait until today to learn the result, my team would
have won. This may be evidence of dementia, or early onset alzheimer’s,
but its part of the magic that makes my world worth living in, as painful
as that may be at times. This knowledge brings both awesome power and
terrible responsibility.

So I am ready to cowboy up and accept the responsibility for this latest
debacle. My life is my punishment. Today, all my world is trash and ashes.
I somehow drug myself into work, like a zombie. My students will probably
ask for their money back for today’s class (mergers and acquisitions),
pro-rated. On the train I tried to read the Metro. In the weather section
I read those four terrible and foreboding letters for the first time
this season – S-N-O-W. Ashes and trash, running down the tracks.

I think this town is burned out for me. To get this fucking Red Sox virus
out of my system I think I need to get far, far away from here for a
long, long time. Somewhere they don’t know baseball from bupkiss, and
have another, healthier sport I can get into. Soccer. I like soccer.
I could go to Brazil! Everyone plays soccer, and the weather is great,
and there is NO BASEBALL. And they are WINNERS, World Cup, Clubs championships,
Under-17. Not LOSERS like the Beantown Chokers.

I better start getting ready for the big move, the new life, the sporting
rebirth. Gotta start learning the lingo. Does anyone know how to say, "Yankees
Suck" in Portuguese?