Wednesday, October 20, 2004

American League Championship Series - Game 6

Red Sox 4, Yankees 2
Series tied, 3-3

All that stuff yesterday about crying was mostly metaphorical. Then, last night, Curt Schilling pitched 7 innings with sutures holding his injured tendon in place, blood filling his shoe, and staining his sock a deep crimson (a red sock, if you will). Bronson Arroyo followed him with an gutty, if less than completely effective 8th inning, and then Keith Foulke threw his 5th inning in the last 3 games on fumes. When Foulke struck out Tony Clark on a full count with runners on 1st and 2nd, the tears were no longer metaphors.

In the course of carrying on this extended conversation about the nature of fandom, Whitney and I have briefly discussed why we care so much about these teams, and why we choose to suffer. The Valvano quote yesterday begins to answer the question, but my feelings in the late innings last night get closer. It is a uniquely human quality to care deeply and fully about something, and a true blessing from God to be moved so much that your physical being translates emotion into physical manifestations. At its essence, that level of emotional involvement signals that you are alive - that the same body that spends most days sucking down coffee, churning through a myriad of involuntary actions, droning through another meeting or television show or commute is capable of the most remarkable range of vigorous emotional response. The lucky among us are fans because every so often sports gives us these moments that affirm our capacity for joy and pain all in the same moment.

I've recently done a lot of cycling, and I love the moments at the end of long ride where the physical exhaustion and pain in my legs and chest blends with the satisfaction and sense of well-being in my entire body. The Red Sox do the same thing for my psyche.

So, win or lose tonight I'll give thanks to this team, this band of idiots, for reminding me once again why I care, and why it matters. I don't have any words of analysis, because none of them are worth anything. Roll the balls out, get the game on, and let the chips fall where they may.

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