Sunday, June 15, 2008

2003 ALDS: Game 1


October 2, 2003

After Game 1, ALDS, Sox down 0-1 to A’s; Sox blow lead in 9th inning, lose in 11th when Ramon Hernandez drops a bases loaded bunt single for the GW RBI.

Its not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. Or so many of us have been told. Why we should believe this is anyone's guess. Neither Leo Durocher nor Al Gore would agree with this well-worn maxim, and most likely Leon Trotsky and Al Bundy would contend otherwise as well.

But I am not going to take issue with this Sesame Street philosophy. Nor shall I take issue with the specifics of tonight's ballgame. I won't argue that in the playoffs one should go with the hot hand out of the bullpen, which in tonight's case was Mr. Timlin. I will steer clear of whether or not it always fails to walk the bases loaded. But what I do want to talk about is not how one plays the game, but how we watch the game.

I yell. I scream. I curse, I reverberate, I pontificate, I press real hard on my sinuses hoping that's how to keep my brain in my head. I order food I don't eat and I find camaraderie with those who wear a similar shirt.

And so does everyone. In a very important sense, we are all the same.

As you know, I study philosophy. (Although "study' might be a generous construal.) I am interested in the related concepts of continuity and identity. Some may think that the question of what makes something the same, or continuous, over time is irrelevant, or unanswerable, or illogical or even trivial.
But they told us, dammit, they told us that these were not our father's Red Sox. David Ortiz and Mueller and all the rest. "Who's the Babe?" has less rhetorical value that "who's the man?" But never has anyone looked more at home in a uniform than the Heroes from the Hub did tonight. They were the Red Sox. Game 1 of the division series is the least important of all playoff games. Yet there was scaffolding on my seat while a construction crew furiously extended the edge.

I am tired. And I mean that. It doesn't matter how much sleep I got last night, nor how much I will get tonight.

The soul. The soul is eternal, immutable, indivisible and some other things, too, I suppose. Testicles, on the other hand, are quite fragile, and really the opposite of the abovemention qualities. The soul has no need for testicles, as the latter are both the archives of evolution and the tray from which you may take or leave a penny, contributing to the dynamic nature of the community. The soul is something else entirely, and has no need to ensure its reproduction through history.

Tonight, though, my soul has balls, and it was kicked right in them. The heavenly choir of angels sang a truer soprano.

I'm not going to lie and say I knew that the A's would win. I didn't know. But I did know that the Red Sox made a definitive metaphysical statement. "We are the Red Sox", they blared. And more importantly, they let me know that I am a Red Sox fan.

I hate losing. I don't know why, and I don't care why. No insight would let me know that it is an attitude worth changing. All I know is that in am important regard, I am a functioning human being.

I can't imagine how I would feel in the World Series. This was Game One of the ALDS. They can still do it. Who knows?

But they are the Red Sox. I don't know why. It doesn't make sense. These guys are not related to Babe Ruth, or Bill Buckner. They may never have met. They may have .500 batting averages in the post season or may slug 1.000 against Barry Zito. But who cares?

All I know is that my throat is sore and I feel like I was shot in the gut with a cannon.

I watch the game not like I was out there on the field, but like I am sitting on a bar stool with other people wearing the same shirt. The shirt does not cover my soul, or my soul's balls, nor does it keep me warm.

But it does make me one of THEM, just like it does to the guys on the field. They are Red Sox, and so am I. And assuming we make it by the first round, we got a dozen of these to go.My soul needs to go jogging or something, to get into better shape.

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