Red Sox fans, as a rule, are schooled in heartbreak, lessoned in disappointment, indoctrinated in “almost.” From our earliest days, we’re taught that the Red Sox will ultimately break our heart. Yet, we love them, and come back by the millions year after year. Because we can’t help it. And because for many of us, the Red Sox are not a team but a way of life. We’ve congregated together around TV’s at weddings, birthday parties, family reunions, even my cousin’s engagement party last weekend. This simple experience of sharing these games brings us together, gives us common ground, and links generation to generation. Old, young, male, female, doesn’t matter. The Sox are the ultimate community.
Underneath this however is a tension. When young, free thinking fans seek to throw off the shackles of their elders’ pessimism, and reject these doom and gloom teachings believing that the future is not a foregone Calvinistic conclusion, we’re derided as fools waiting to have our hearts broken. Worse, there’s no escape from the unrelenting media replay of pains past, so we’re forced – unwilling – to relive the failures of yesteryear again and again.
And nothing has changed tonight. We’re still one game away from another series.
But we started a guy tonight who needs an operating table rather than an extra day of rest, closed with a pitcher who’s thrown almost 7 innings in 3 days, and beat a starter who 1 hit us through 7 innings in his last start. The winning runs came on a home run by a guy hitting under .100, whom most of New England would have preferred to see on the bench. Most importantly, in winning tonight we did what no baseball team has ever done. In history. Only 8 professional sports teams have ever accomplished what was done tonight in Yankee Stadium.
There will be no moral victories. We’ll compete hard tomorrow and win or lose. Lose and tonight will be nothing but a footnote. Win and, well, things will be a lot different. Tomorrow night is a matter of faith. As Walter Donovan said – “it’s time to ask yourself what you believe.”