Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Help Me! I've Caught Red Sox Fever!

Dear Mom,

Since I left Washington, DC for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I have had this strange, tingling feeling. It starts in March, as the brutal and gray winter recedes, and the news reports reach us from a faraway place called Florida, where (we're told) the grass is green and Spring training is about to begin.

The tingling feeling intensifies as news organizations across the Commonwealth provide excruciatingly detailed reports about pitchers pitching, catchers catching, and prospects, well, prospecting. Strange names blare from the TV and radio: Big Papi, Papelbon, Manny, Youk, cereal ads for Coco Crisp?!... I think I am hallucinating.

March gives way inexorably to April, and the tingling climaxes on a hallowed mark in the Commonwealth's calendar called "Opening Day." While the remaining snow clings stubbornly to the sidewalk and the nascent buds hide on the trees, awaiting the inevitable April freeze, Fenway's pristine infield and immaculately raked dirt beckon; sirens drawing sailors to their doom. Play ball! they say, and my fever becomes a constant companion over the ensuing months.

April, May, June, July and August pass in a pennant-race induced haze; I grow familiar with the names and they become part of my daily ritual, background noise and visuals to the mundanities of daily life. The All-Star break arrives: If we are in first my fever subsides for a few days, only to return with the games--for as long-suffering Sox fans have told me, we always collapse after the All-Star break.

August eases lazily into September; people return from The Cape and the yellow buses once again parade the streets. Summer clothes reluctantly return to the basement; fall and winter clothes take their place. I see my breath sometimes during my morning runs, and there's a foreboding chill in the air. Days grow shorter and the lights brighten Fenway's still-green fields ever earlier.

Our lead dwindles and my fever heightens. The virus from the South--the dreaded Yankees--inch closer, and my anxiety spikes. Finally we win the division, narrowly avoiding snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and enter the playoffs.

Beckett throws a shutout and for one glorious October night, my fever is gone. I sleep and dream of one, two, three, ten more victories until I finally rid myself of the fever... Until next March, when I know it will return.

I miss DC and the odd sense of security that comes with pulling for a perennial cellar-dweller. I happily trade that for pulling for a winner, yet as I have discovered The Cause comes with The Curse and other peculiar insecurities.

I have become what I have long mocked: A Red Sox fan, and to my surprise, the name seems to fit.

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