I’ll come right out and say it: I’m pale as fuck. Boston Irish. Red hair. Skin so white it’s almost translucent.
I’m the kid whose mom insisted that he wear a shirt whenever he went swimming for fear the sun would sear the very flesh from my bones. The guy who once fell asleep in the sun while wearing an opened button-up shirt, resulting in a sunburn that made it look like I was wearing a Spider-Man costume. The fan who can never, ever sit in the Fenway bleachers on a Saturday afternoon in July unless I want to come home in an urn.
I inject SPF 2000 into my veins. I wear socks and sneakers to the beach. My skin maintains a pastry glow best described as “cave dweller” or “actual vampire.” Not surprisingly, I was made for October baseball.
Look, I don’t have beef with folks who love the summer months. For my entire life I’ve gazed upon your kind — the people who actually enjoy frollicking in the sun, some even shirtless — with a mixture of horror, curiosity and jealousy. I will never not know a life that doesn’t involve running in terror from the rays of the sun, so I oddly envy those who actually seek them out and embrace them.
But baseball in October, when you’re not sweating or burning or feeling the Boston summer sun bake away your will to live? That’s the most beautiful thing in this world. And anyone who thinks otherwise is flat out wrong. Or tan.
Give me the Fenway bleachers when the sun sets at four in the afternoon. Give me that communal flask of whiskey that keeps your balls from crawling back inside your body whenever the wind blows through the Van Ness Street gates. Give me gloves and headwarmers and girls from BU dressed in leggings and North Face jackets. Give me steam rising off the hot dog vendor carts and hot chocolate in the stands and seeing your breath every time you cheer. Give me fingers frozen as I try to tweet from the bar behind the left field grandstands or drop a quid on the Sox at some kasyno bez depozytu. Give me wool hats and threat of snow and that dizzy feeling as your team pulls ahead in the late innings of game seven.
October baseball is when things get exciting. It’s do or die time. It’s when guys like Ortiz stand tall and cult heroes like Dave Roberts are born. It’s the end of a tunnel of 160+ games. The ultimate payoff for four months of humidity and mosquitoes and sweat-stained T-shirts.
With all due respect to Andy Williams, October playoffs are the most wonderful time of the year. And we should never, ever take it for granted when the Red Sox take us there.