Marlowe's Shade

Thursday, October 21, 2004

October Surprise

This was the first year that I really gave up on the Red Sox. Last year I was pretty ambivalent but I still got my hopes up in the playoffs. In 2004 my hope died.
Along with the political aboutface I've done in the past few years, there has been a cultural one too. I've had to renounce scores of actors and musicians who's views have become repugnant to me. The eyes of an unbeliever look suspiciously at these Red Sox. Derek Lowe looks like a younger moonbat version of Richard Gere. Who ever saw such a hirsute team despite a few that actually looked like the baseball card portraits of my youth?
I turned on the TV in the 3rd inning and got a shock. I was sure the Sox would lose this game. I started to feel a strange panic, what if they actually win? Would Kerry be able to make some political capital out of this? I opened a bottle of bargain Amontillado to soothe my inner conflict.
And these aren't the sinister Yankees of the 70s that I hated with such a passion, Thurmond Munson, Billy Martin, Lou Pinella, and the sucker-punching Mickey Rivers. I like Jeter and Joe Torre seems like a real mensch. These are the guys who won the world series after 9-11. Tyrone looks like a staff sargeant, in fact the whole Yankee lineup could have been cast in "Band of Brothers".
Despite her current residence, NY Nana is a faithful Sox fan since she was a maideleh in Brighton. I can't get to the computer without waking my wife (not something you want to do to a women in the 8th month of pregnancy), but Nana's been sending me mind-beams the whole game. She joins some other apparitions the dim cathode light of my living room. Jheka is phasing in and out like a bad hologram transmission. He is understandably grim. Why does he have to look so much like my brother? Eugenio who loves both los Yanquis and Las Medias Rojas the way only a foriegner can, is bouncing in his seat on the couch next to me, refusing to respect my personal space. Over on the loveseat by himself is my Dad, looking like he did when he still drank Carling Black Label out of quart bottles. The Sox used to send him into apoplectic rages, like the time Eddie Kasko put that pitcher in without warming him up. Right now he's grinning.
The bald Irish tenor just finished singing "God Bless America" When did they start singing during the 7th inning stretch? This is embarassing.
That's when my dilemma became clear. This is the worst thing that could happen to a backslidden Red Sox fan. I'm like a guy who runs off with his secretary the day before Judgement Day.
Jheka, who I actually though I heard praying in the 6th, perked up as soon as they brought Pedro in. What are they thinking? Yankee fans are taunting Pedro, "Who's your daddy?" That familiar voice in my head is already screeching, "See! They are going to blow it again! Just like last year!" Heaven help me, I'm almost relieved. Dad pours Black Label into a frosted mug and doesn't look perturbed. Nana is wisely silent, but her eyes are shining. What do they know that I don't know?
I relax a little when they put Timlin in. Eugenio says, "Papi, estas feliz?"
"No estoy seguro" He laughs at my gringo angst.
This is the team that snagged my tender young heart with a grappling hook and chained it to the back of a pickup truck, dragging me through '73, '78, '86 ...
9-3. Unbelievable.
Dad is chuckling and grinning at me. "Hey Joe!" He's about to get sentimental/philosophical. "Did you ever think you'd see this?" Then he grunts. "Look at those *ssholes with their cell phones! Why don't they just shut up and watch the game!"
Eugenio wants to hug me. He's not even drinking. In that big head of his he has already composed the finest work of sports writing his adopted country of Mexico will ever know.
Could the Red Sox blow a 7 run lead? Sure they could.
And this isn't the World Series. They could still lose to Houston or St. Louis.
That Matsui has got heart.
The Red Sox winning the World Series would be a sign and a wonder. The Rapture wouldn't be far behind.
After the first out of the inning, I'm starting to feel like I can forgive my own unbelief. I can't gloat or rejoice like the faithful, but I can quietly have hope for The Red Sox again.
When Sierra grounds out, everyone starts to shimmer and fade.
The communal celebration has begun on the field, in the bars and livingrooms of New England.

Alone and past his bedtime, an 11 year-old boy is crying in the flickering twilight.
papijoe 5:29 AM