Dramatic irony, poetic justice.

From today’s Globe:

Around the same time, in New York, ecstatic Red Sox fans nearly took over Yankee Stadium, singing the Yankees’ theme song, ”New York, New York,” with off-key gusto as they crowded behind home plate to celebrate the improbable victory. ”These little town blues are melting away,” Ed Graham of Tyngsborough sang along with the Frank Sinatra recording. ”I’m not going to use that stupid word ‘surreal.’ It’s just unbelievable.”
Shouts of ”Johnny Damon is my homeboy!” and ”It’s all over!” filled the air around the stadium, where there was a heavy police presence. Thousands of Yankee fans had left the stadium early, including Yogi Berra, the Yankees legend famous for his phrase ”It ain’t over till it’s over,” who quietly departed before the seventh inning.

And, on a more sentimental note:

Across the region, children in pajamas and Red Sox shirts stayed up way past their bedtime, posting runs on homemade scoreboards and popping balloons on which they had drawn faces of Yankees players.
Fans across the region celebrated with family members, both living and dead. At the Breezeway Bar and Grill in Roxbury, Jack Wilkins yelled, ‘We got ’em! We finally got ’em!” as he watched the game with three generations of his family.
”First thing tomorrow, I’m going to my father’s grave, and I’m going to sing, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ ” a reference to the chant that Yankees fans used to taunt Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez.
A few miles away, near Fenway, Mark Von Duyke was pushing his wife, Joan, who uses a wheelchair, across the Brookline Avenue overpass above the Mass Pike.
”This is the happiest day of our lives, except for the day we got married,” Mark Von Duyke said as the cheering crowds parted to let the couple pass.

On Fox, they kept showing shots of the kids in attendance at these late games, clearly up way past their bedtimes. There’s no question that schoolwork has suffered, not to mention productivity in the adult office world. (I’d comment on the economic impact, but any losses must surely be made up by bar and food-delivery revenues.) Imagine, though, being eight or ten years old and going to one of these ALCS games. The kids fortunate enough to have tickets will be holding on to these memories deep into their adulthood, into old age, as shining things they will never forget. And it’s heartwarming, too, to see shots of eighty-year-old men, starry-eyed and placid, sitting in the stands with a certain calm intensity that can only come from decades of patience and faith, like devoted elderly churchgoers. Perhaps the older citizens of Red Sox Nation are the most lucky, for this is game marks an historic triumph, an unprecendented release for the long-faithful. Even barring a World Series victory, this is something golden to take with us through the rest of our lives. You can see the veil of the curse lifting (or blown to pieces and scattering, like dandelions gone to seed), and it’s like mist over the mountains evaporating in the sunrise after a seemingly endless night.
Everything I wrote (privately) about this last year is paling. We’re coming, like inevitable dawn, and it’s glorious.

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12 thoughts on “Dramatic irony, poetic justice.

  1. We?
    ‘Yes we did’?
    When a 25-year-long love affair on, say, General Hospital gets consummated at last, is a fan justified in such a turn of phrase? It may be inconvenient during a flight of metaphorical fancy, but don’t forget that this ‘self-described gang of idiots’ is baseball’s second-highest payroll, a team that consistently wins 90 games – and that the ‘Curse of the Bambino’ exists in the hearts and minds of fans. But money and baseball skill win games.
    Sorry to be grouchy today. You know, during the Astros’ ALDS this year, the reporter interviewed Nolan Ryan, and my heart sped up noticeably – he was my boyhood hero. And I am having an utterly different week than JCB, though we’re more or less participating in the same activity (i.e. watching baseball). I think I can only live, to a degree, vicariously re: the Sox.

  2. In my defense, my intent is not to come at this with bare analysis — I hope I’m bringing something intelligent to the discussion, but these entries are intended to be from a fan’s perspective (that is, a personal one), not a critic’s.
    I wouldn’t argue with you: I thought your entry “A Bit of Sox Perspective” was right on in a lot of ways, and it’s just the sort of viewpoint necessary when it’s so easy to get caught up in the euphoria. In response to that article, I’d say that Boston’s playing second fiddle to the Yankees is precisely the reason the rivalry is captivating: it’s not that the Sox are bad (they’re not), but that they’re so often just shy of the best. It’s that close-but-not-quite aspect that gives the whole thing its compelling tension.
    Of course, your point about using the first person plural is taken, and it’s no doubt an important one. Given your comparison of this to a soap opera, it occurs to me that baseball is a perfect candidate for one of your “Seriality and Narrative” entries, if you haven’t mentioned it already. The first difference I see in sports versus TV-show fandom is the rather obvious one of geography: where you live is far more likely to be correlated to whether or not you’re a Red Sox fan than it is to whether or not you like General Hospital. In this respect, I’d argue that sports fandom tends to become more tied in to one’s sense of personal identity (where you come from, what your roots are) than do television shows, in general. But I’m not the media scholar.
    I’m not sure exactly what you’re implying in the last paragraph, but it’s certainly no surprise that you’d be having a different reaction than Jeff (or Mike, or Laurie, or Josh, or Tarky, or…), precisely for this reason of geography. Growing up with one team is different than growing up with baseball, and I think it’s possible that growing up with the Red Sox is different than growing up with a lot of other baseball teams, if only for the fierce regionalism and emotional baggage that comes with it. I can’t say this for sure, since pretty much all of my baseball experience is based in Boston and therefore has the obvious (and easy) local bias of Us being infallibly better than Them. So maybe you and Jeff are only superficially participating in the same activity of “watching baseball” — I suspect that, for him, it’s not quite so simple.
    I’m not sure of they ways in which our Red Sox experiences are different — i.e. yours and mine. I was brought into the fold by Jeff and Amanda in the beginning, and I got more and more into it in the company of other die-hard locals, but I had no previous loyalties, having been rasied in what amounted to a professional sports vacuum. Though the Sox are not a part of my childhood at all, they are the only real presence in the realm of my baseball fandom as such — my childhood connections are limited to the fact that baseball is one of the few sports I’ve always just liked; I played a season of softball in high school. You have way more history with the sport than I do, and other childhood loyalties. I’d imagine it’s different for us.
    (Of course, there are the upstate-NY-to-MIT parallels, which may in fact have something to do with how easily we became Red Sox fans, but that’s another investigation entirely, one which probably lies too far into the realm of speculation to be taken super-seriously, but one which I find interesting nonetheless.)
    Yeah, so I’d be interested to hear more about this from you.

  3. Mostly directed at Wally:
    Only someone around Boston for the last six (?) years would characterize the Red Sox as a consistently 90-wins team and dismiss this as something that should have been expected. Sure they’re the second highest payroll and have a financial advantage over every team but the Yankees. But what you realize is that this is something entirely new, something born out of the recent economics of baseball. I do not feel guilty at all that the Red Sox owners choose to spend their hundreds of millions while Billionaires like the Twin’s Carl Polhad choose to pocket the profits.
    What you’re missing is the torment of your father, your mother, your grandfather, his parents, your childhood. What you’re missing is the experience of walking up to the ticket booth (which used to be IN the park lobby) and buying a grandstand seat 5 minutes before game time because the team sucked and no one was there. Fenway sold every seat this season — the first time that had EVER been done. It is much different than 1980, or 1990 or even as Recently as 2001, when I would buy tickets several times a week at game time.
    The last 10 years have been pretty damn good for the Red Sox, but it wasn’t always so. I know everyone knows the long term history, but it’s easy to forget the season-by-season sucking that occurred even within the last 20 years. The 86 Red Sox were picked almost unanimously to finish last in the AL East. I’m not knocking you for your lack of perspective — I love that new people come to Boston and become Red Sox fans — it is great. And I’m not one of those locals that thinks just because you grew up somewhere else you’re not entitled to be a fan. You certainly are. I love it. But just because baseball is a billions of dollars industry, and the Red Sox have been a top 10 team during your experience here, do not forget that within our lifetime it was not always so — not even remotely.
    Since 1950 they’ve won 90 games 10 times — you’ve been here for 3 of those years, which incidentally have been the last 3 seasons. They didn’t even break .500 in 1997. In the words of Jay-Z: “your whole perspective is whack.”

  4. I guess after rereading my post, I am knocking your lack of perspective. What I’m trying to say is that I obviously can’t blame you for that — you weren’t here and you’ve had a different Red Sox experience than most. Recognize.
    Am — your thoughts about the 8 year olds with their ticket stubs and their memories was great. In 1986, I literally was that 8 year old kid in the stands at game 7 in Fenway — my mom had won 2 tickets at her hospital and took me. Though I wasn’t in Boston last night to see the revelry, I distinctly remember it all, with great clarity, from 18 years ago:
    -A guy up on top of the canvas roof of his jeep — shirt off — swinging it wildly above his head.
    -Jim Rice launching a home run (3-runs?) into the screen above the monster, putting the game on ice.
    -Calvin Schiraldi striking out batters in the 9th, shutting the door.
    -General insanity. Stuck in traffic for hours, falling asleep in the passenger seat.
    -The 4′ version of me, sitting behind 2 monster guys in the grandstands, I start to cry, they see me and offer to switch seats with me and my mom.
    -My mom and dad flipping a coin in the kitchen to see which adult would go to the game with me. I’m grateful that taking me was a given, and one of them would get axed.
    The pennant I bought from that game is still in my office.
    The ticket stub from that game 7 is neatly sealed in a book, with some of my “prized” baseball cards.
    You know, in the overall scheme of things, baseball isn’t a big deal. But memories at the ball park I’ll always have, and that night with my Mom is something I’ll remember fondly. Baseball and the other Boston sports teams have been a constant vehicle for bonding and interaction between me and my family members — both immediate and extended. That might be weird for some families, but at least the bonding is there — _something_ made it happen, and that’s better than nothing.
    And as sick as it is, it makes me feel good seeing those little kids with NY hats crying with their faces in their hands. I’ve been there, done that. It’s good for you. You can’t go through life as an arrogant prick that expects to win what you want, when you want it.
    You hear that, A-Rod?

  5. Tarkanian: Thank you. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about becoming a Red Sox fan — something which has only occurred over the past five years or so and which has been a continuing process — is the sense of being brought into this longer and larger tradition, this history, a past which is only half about what’s going on with the team itself — the other half is what you’re doing with your friends, your family, while the players are doing their thing. (I’d guess that, because of the paced, discretized nature of the game itself, it’s more conducive to this sort of parallel social activity than other spectator sports. A baseball game can get kind of boring if you’re watching it alone.) I love hearing my friends — the ones who brought me into the game and made a Red Sox fan out of me — tell stories about their childhoods, about seasons past, about the link between this team, the town (or region), their friends and family, and themselves. I’ve really enjoyed your perspective and reminiscences on the subject. Keep it up! =)
    Speaking of which, did you read Jeff’s entry from last month?

  6. I suspect there is a more subtle difference between Wally and Amrys here, that Amrys sort of touched on. Like myself, Wally grew up a baseball fan, but not a Red Sox fan. Also like myself, Wally played for many years and has a pretty good idea (I assume) of the smell of the game — that is, the intimate details that you get from actually being on the field. Like feeling your heart beat a million miles a minute when the game comes down to your at bat, or the agony of actually splitting your pants while you make the stretch at first to get the runner, only to find out that she was safe AND you have a hole in your crotch. (That second one might just be me — and lay off the obvious joke.)
    I surmise that, like myself, Wally is watching a baseball game first and Red Sox game second. Whereas for Jeff and other locals, it’s the opposite. And both Wally and I had our childhood teams in these playoffs, which, at least for me, adds just a tinge of guilt at cheering for another team — after all, my montage of Twins pictures is still on my desk.
    I wrote a bunch more, but it started overlapping into my half-written blog post for the blog that doesn’t exist yet. I have to e-mail Rodin back…
    Oh, and in regards to Carl Pohlad… I don’t think he was turning a profit throughout most of the 90s — I think he was losing a few hundred thousand a year. He’s just a really bad baseball business man who believes that the less he shells out, the more he takes in. When in fact, the less he shells out, the worse the team gets, and the less Minnesotans care. Why do you think the Twins were up for being contracted a few years ago?

  7. Upon reading Erin’s comment and rereading mine, I realize that I may have implied that Jeff’s experience was more complex than yours, Wally. What I meant by this was that his Red Sox experience was more deeply rooted; your experience with the game itself (as player and fan) may be just as deeply rooted but in a different way. The point is what Erin is saying here, I think: that we’re engaging the game (the game we’re watching on TV at this moment, the Red Sox ball club, the sport of baseball) in different ways based on our different upbringings and experiences with these aspects.
    Erin, I can’t wait to read your blog.

  8. Also don’t forget that as a collective, anyone with a soul and sense of decency, anyone who likes puppy dogs and taffy and is against nuclear proliferation, can identify with the “we” sentiment of the non-Yankee[fan].
    That is to say it is most certainly the case that this wasn’t just a victory for Red Sox fans (although it was the most perfect and sublime of wins for them) but it was a victory for all baseball fans, everyone who is tired of the arrogance and sickening condescension that Yankee fans have acquired.
    Hell, as one crusty old Brooklyner said at the poker table the other night, “I want the Sox to win because I just want to see Steinbrenner cry.”

  9. Re: Polhad — I realize the Twins probably aren’t the most profitable venture, but my point should’ve been that the guy is so damn rich that just becuase they’re “small market” doesn’t mean he couldn’t spend +100 million a year on payroll, if he wanted to.

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