Take me out to the ballgame…as long as the Red Sox are playing

I once won an office Super Bowl pool, but not on account of my knowledge of football, which is nonexistent. I simply picked at random from a grid someone had created of possible outcomes and plunked down $5. I used part of my winnings to buy a Super Bowl cake from a supermarket bakery (half price, since it was the day after) for my colleagues to nosh.

I’ve never cared about the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup or pretty much any other sports contest. There’s only one professional sport I follow, if only sporadically, and that’s baseball—the great American pastime. And the team I love is the Red Sox.

I grew up in Rhode Island, just an hour away from Fenway Park. As a family, we listened to all the games on scratchy transistor radios, caught them on TV when we could and occasionally trekked to Boston to sit in the bleachers and cheer.

The Red Sox were not winners back then. Some fans whispered of a jinx. This was, after all, the team that traded Ruth (1919)—the team that opened its ballpark just as the Titanic sank (1912).

Rooting for them through thin and thin, I learned about heartbreak, and the hard truth that in this life, the good guys don’t always win. We called them the Red Flops, but meant it affectionately. They might be stumblebums, but they were our stumblebums.

I moved from New England long ago, but my team allegiance didn’t change as my geography did. I’ve been in the New York City orbit since the late 1970s, but I could never cheer the Yankees. No self-respecting Red Sox fan would.

I don’t mind the Mets, heartbreakers in their own right, but they are a National League team and don’t play the Sox during the regular season. It’s hard to forget, however, the way they won the 1986 World Series, when a Boston error in game seven, bottom of the 10th, handed New York the game. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Unlike my brother, also a lifelong fan even though he likewise has left New England, I don’t watch every game. But once in a while I like to catch one. My husband finds televised baseball slow moving and a little boring. I disagree.

To me, there’s something kabuki-like about baseball. There’s ritual to it, a rhythm in the stately march of the innings. The gameplay is almost balletic—the pitch, the swing, the dashes and leaps of the infielders and outfielders in pursuit of a ball. Just look at the cadence and coordination of any double play. It’s nothing short of beautiful!

Now that I’ve “liked” the Red Sox on Facebook, I have a new way to keep up with the games. Facebook tells me when they are playing, informs me of the score and lets me “celebrate” the wins on my timeline, if I so choose.

The team is doing well this year. I won’t say more because I don’t want to jinx them. Go, Sox!

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