Not much blogging this week, because all of my late-night blogging time has been taken up with baseball. Incredible, mind-bending baseball. Tonight the Red Sox are American League champs. Since the Sox made it into the championship series last week, I have felt at various times dizzy, giddy, and sick. It’s an odd thing to me, to find myself caring this much about baseball. Growing up in North Carolina, I wasn’t much of a baseball fan, and I certainly didn’t have any affinity for Boston. My only memory of the 1975 series was that it was interesting that both the teams had “Red” in their names. In the same vague, hop-on-the-bandwagon way that I cheered for the Dolphins and the Cowboys in their 1970s powerhouse years, I remember rooting for the Yankees in 1978.
For more than a decade now I have lived in Boston. I think it would take real work to live here for that long and not become a fan; I have succumbed. But the thing that really fascinates me is how someone like me can take eighty-some years of Red Sox history so personally. While I was in college in New Jersey, I was totally indifferent to the wretched fate of the 1986 Sox. But now it feels like a personal affront, as though I suffered through it myself. How is that possible? This is what is so interesting about the Sox: the very thing that has made them so wretched has made them painfully endearing. If I had moved to New York instead of Boston thirteen years ago, would I be a Yankees fan? Probably. But I can’t imagine being caught up in the same way. The Red Sox have come to stand for longing, for endless unrequited painful desire. That is a powerful, mythic force, all the more so when shared by millions of fellow-sufferers. This history of thwarted victory is something to be embraced and honored in some profound way. Why should I care so much about baseball? Because it becomes more than baseball. We can all understand yearning; life is yearning and frustrated needfulness. Everyone in Red Sox nation is free to project onto this team a thousand things from their lives. When you win, you eventually learn that the world doesn’t change, but when you lose, you dream that some day it might. The winner awakes, but the loser gets to dream.
For the last four days, I have been lapsing occasionally into a strange dream state. It’s something like floating in a soap bubble over a barren landscape — so beautiful, so easily punctured, so disorienting. To land on my feet after that giddy flight amazes me in the extreme. I congratulate the team that brought home this victory. Tomorrow the world starts again. But tonight Boston lives the dream.