A shirt for the series.

This is the series my wardrobe has been waiting for.
Back on my birthday, LB gave me the shirt I’d been waiting for, a Red Sox tee with the number twelve on the back. Within a few scant weeks, it was already a collector’s item.
My Bellhorn shirt got broken in quickly, occasioned by a couple of trips to Fenway and general fan-about-town wear. I wore it proudly to Sox games, scanning the crowd for other obscure numbers and grumbling when Graffanino stepped up to the plate. But by the time I arrived in Madison at the end of August, the unthinkable had happened: waivered and designated for assignment, Bellhorn had signed with the Yankees. The day it became official, I wore the shirt in celebration and mourning: the Sox had won, but the Yanks had taken my boy. It would be hard to wear the shirt thereafter: it was replaced in the rotation by my newly acquired B-Side tee, and the “Why Not Us?” shirt of 2004 fame I’d gotten for cheap. While Bellhorn languished in my closet, I took to making my allegiance clear with hats for the most part; on the UW campus, my crowd-scanning habits shifted to picking out the Boston fans amidst a sea of Wisconsin red and Cubbie blue.
In my new midwestern home, I thanked the Lord above for MLB Radio, which brought Joe and Jerry (and all the WEEI ads) to my computer a thousand miles away. I discovered MLB Gameday, with enough detailed information to please even the most statistically-minded fan, and reveled in the fact that I could now go to the bathroom in the midst of scoring a game without missing a beat. I talked baseball with my new acquaintances and found common ground with the smattering of Boston fans in the History of Science department; my Massachusetts housemate and I stood our ground against the good-natured ribbing of the house Yankees fan. I watched the Yanks pummel the Sox in the Bronx, and shouted at the bar TV when the broadcast showed Bellhorn, cleanshaven and smiling, looking happy and relaxed chatting with teammates on the Yankees bench. I read the Globe Sox page religiously, and blogged almost exclusively about the hometown team. When plans to go see the Brewers fell through, I tuned in to WEEI to get my baseball fill. I consulted my Red Sox pocket schedule (courtesy of D’Angelo’s) with regularity. And, earlier this week, I wrote down all the pitching matchups for the remaining regular season games on an index card, which has been in my back pocket ever since.
But today: today marks the start of the final push, the beginning of the end. The Red Sox’s season began with Toronto and New York, and here it ends, at Fenway, the series with Toronto split, the three games against the Yankees ready to ignite the nation. On home turf, we welcome the enemy, whose weaknesses are our weaknesses, whose goals are our goals. We want to ready the brooms, but we know it’s not that easy.
Today I woke up early, hoping to get some work done before my noontime obligations, but the Red Sox headlines distracted me. I found this editorial from today’s Globe, this bit from Salon, and even this piece on the relative merits of players-cum-musicians Bronson Arroyo and Bernie Williams. I was sucked into the sports page again. And that was it for my productivity.
After I showered, I looked through my closet, trying to decide what to wear. At the bottom of the milkcrate in which I keep my t-shirts, a red garment stuck out. I smiled, knowing exactly what to do.
I miss Mark Bellhorn, but I’ll probably see him this weekend. And I’ll be wearing my shirt, the number twelve displayed proudly on the back, in a now-humorously-contradictory display of loyalties. Is there any doubt about my allegiances? No. But I’m glad to be able to wear the shirt again.

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