Friday, September 28, 2007
Raise the Flag
I became a Red Sox fan on October 16, 1999. Long before this team’s bandwagon got so big it’s embarrassing, I fell in love with Pedro, Nomah, and the Boston Red Sox. At the time, for me, it was an emotional return to the sport of my childhood – a sport I had once loved with every ounce of my being, and a sport I abandoned when the man who taught me the love of the game, my father, died. On my first trip to New England, the magic of the game swept me off my feet and brought me back to a love that my father instilled in me when I was too young to remember. As a child my brother sat me down on my bed and taught me the caps and logos of every major league team. (Montreal was one I had the most trouble with, the weird “M” baseball glove never said “Expos” to me. Thank God they don’t exist anymore.) I was hard core for as long as I can remember. At the point of my New England trip in 99, it had been five years since I had anything to do with the game of baseball. My life was changed in a major way during that trip to Massachusetts. My sister and I spent the day in Boston where everything was abuzz. Clemens and the hated Yankees were coming back to town, and Pedro and the loveable and “always the underdog” Red Sox were hoping to win the Pennant. Since it was the play-offs, we obviously did not have tickets to the game. We got nowhere near Fenway Park; that wasn’t necessary. We arrived back to her home in New Bedford, Mass in time to catch the game on NESN. My sister and I spent that evening watching Pedro stick it to Clemens to a tune of 13-1. I was beyond cloud nine, and I was hooked. I watched the rest of the series, and I cried when the Sox lost sending the Yanks on to beat the Braves in the World Series. I won’t go through the many times I have bawled my eyes out because of the roller coaster ride of being a Red Sox fan. ESPN has chronicled it enough, and Fever Pitch took all of it out of the sports world and brought it into American pop culture. October 27, 2004 (ironically enough the night before my father’s death date) is by far the greatest moment for every Red Sox fan, and it’s no different for me. However, tonight was not far behind. For the first time in my tenure as a Red Sox fan, my team has beaten the Yankees to win the American League East Division Title! When the Red Sox game finished with a win, the Yankees were leading the Orioles by three with two innings to go. When Mariano came in to pitch the ninth, the Os were still down by three. I figured that my Sox would have to wait another day to clinch the division. Then out of nowhere, Rivera blows the save and the Os tie it in the ninth. The Os have a runner on first with one out. The reliever loads the bases with intentional walks, and a sacrifice bunt brings in the winning run for the Os securing the Red Sox as the winner of the division. And all over the world, Red Sox nation went freaking nuts! Fenway Park, watching the Yanks/Os game on the jumbotron, errupts in a mixture of disbelief and pure elation! I think I may be evicted from my apartment for being too noisy. My neighbors were just privy to screaming, yelling, clapping, and wahooing. The season isn’t over, and the playoffs haven’t even started. I’m a far way from fully celebrating. However, I relish this night – this moment. It feels good to break another curse – the curse of losing the division every year since 1995. Tomorrow is another game; there are still eleven playoff games to win before the season is over. For tonight, I’ll rest in peace. A Division flag will be raised next year at Fenway. Well done, Red Sox, well done!