I was a young shaver when the Red Sox played game seven of the 1986 World Series. When Marty Barrett struck out to end it, I crumpled to the floor in a heap and lay there for what must have been a solid hour. Friends and family casually stepped over me, a few even checked to make sure I was still breathing. Most just steered clear of me.
I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t swearing; in fact, I wasn’t feeling anything but exhaustion and disappointment and that empty void that my Dad warned me about. For the first time in my young life, I realized what it felt like to have my heart smashed to pieces by the Boston Red Sox. And as I lay there, face to floorboards, images of Ron Darling and Mookie Wilson taunting me, I wondered if we’d ever get that close again.
Turns out I had to wait eighteen years to get back to the World Series. In the interim, I’d had my balls stepped on in 1999 and my heart thrown down the shitter in 2003. But 2004 changed everything. Showed me that faith could be rewarded. That the bad guys don’t always win. And that sometimes, the very best things are, in fact, worth waiting for.
Since I used up all my prayers helping to ensure a Red Sox win in 2004, I figured I’d never see another World Series parade. But then 2007 happened. And then, in 2013, when the city of Boston needed some goddam cheering up, it happened again. Suddenly, Red Sox championships weren’t once-in-a-lifetime (or, for that matter, entire fictional) events. “Why not us” was real, and it was spectacular. Suddenly, instead of fearing Sox postseason collapses, I was throwing money down on them at https://www.canadasportsbetting.ca.
Officially, we are through the looking glass. And, as you can imagine, this is still a bit difficult for me to digest. Unlike some of my twenty-something work colleagues who’ve known nothing but Red Sox majesty, I grew up believing the Sox would never win it all. That we were cursed to watch other teams hoist trophies & quaff champagne. That pain and torment would be my only ROI for a lifetime of obsessive fandom.
But tomorrow night, the Red Sox will start pursuit of their fourth World Series title in 19 years, a fact that would have been inconceivable to the young jerk lying on the floor of that house way back when. Even more amazing — I’m actually somewhat confident going into this, or at least not 100 percent convinced by the MLB expert picks that the Sox are going to smash my dreams to powder. I mean, the number “1918” had been hurled at Red Sox fans incessantly in the pre-2004 era. How perfect would it be to close the loop and win it all again exactly 100 years later?
In fact, the only thing I truly have to complain about is how I’m gonna get out of work early enough to tend to my pre-game preparations. You know, shit like handing out Mookie Betts-shaped waffles to orphans, polishing my life-size wood carvings of Tom Caron and Guerin Austin, knitting fake Eck wigs for everyone in my building, stocking the “in case of bullpen” liquor cabinet, checking in with my MIT connections for a progress report on the Brock Holt clones and the all-important dip in the Tom Werner sensory deprivation tank. And let’s not forget basic pre-playoff preparations like taping my knuckles, locking doors, hiding breakables and securing a respectable liver donor.
It’s all about having your priorities straight, because win or lose, we’re into the final days of baseball. See that bunting on the field and that World Series logo on the Fenway grass? That’s the unwritten code for “No work shall be done on Tuesday, people. Stay home and get yourselves psyched up for baseball.” In another week, it’s all gone, Pete Tong. And it’s a long, cold winter before it comes back.
Game one tomorrow night, skaters. Hold on to your hats. Hold on to your beers. Most importantly, hold on these moments. These are magic days, my friends. And we must never take them for granted.