My phone was buzzing nonstop last night. A short sample of the types of text messages and phone calls I received throughout Game 7 of the ALCS are as follows: Folks exhibiting shock that TBS managed to get the game started on time. Crazytime! Bastards! Bunch of bums! Do they realize that this game is important? My grandfather cursing the Red Sox. My brother cursing the Sox. The rest are too inappropriate to list.
But when the Sox’s last sliver of hope was layed on the shoulders of the babyfaced Jed Lowrie just after 8:45, you knew it was over. We had run out of time and magic. My phone went silent. After Akinora Iwamura stomped on second base for the final out, trampling our postseason dreams until next year, my phone sat lifeless on my coffee table for what seemed like an eternity. Its screen remained dark as if in mourning. And I guess it was. Considering what it had been through the past 48 hours. It gave one final cough, a one word message from my friend Abby back in Boston that flashed “sad” before expiring for the rest of the night.
Upon losing Game 7 I watched as the Rays celebrated and gathered my dishes and dumped them in the sink. I returned to the living room to watch as the boys took in the loss. Savored it. Seared the image into their brains. And headed back to the showers. Then I clicked off the TV, plugged in my phone, and went to bed.
I view last night’s loss as a character building experience. Especially for those young Sox fans who can’t remember a time when the Sox didn’t come back from the impossible. Whose formative years were not spent cursing the Yankees with all of their being and who didn’t subscribe to the mantra: Maybe this is the year … Now, young Sox fans are more intimately acquainted with a much larger piece of Red Sox history than either the 2004 or 2007 World Series wins: disappointment. And it still tastes just as bitter.
I am one of those people who absolutely cannot watch playoff games in bars. I wish I could actually enjoy the experience of uniting in a sea of Red Sox jerseys, beer in hand, and riding the waves of a historic comeback with other Beantown believers. But I can’t. I prefer watching the games from the privacy of my own home. (And if we’re going to be truly honest with each other … while clad in my pink bathrobe and occupying only one square of the couch – and never moving – so as not to somehow disturb the game and change the world.)
I think this is because I am still scarred from 2003. That was when we were supposed to win the World Series. You see, we were supposed to win with Grady Little as manager and with Pedro sitting on the bench at the start of the eighth inning in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium. But the Yankees stole our destiny that year. That is why they are cursed now. You just can’t steal time and destiny and get away with it.
Anyhow, I have not quite gotten over the experience and now can only watch playoff games in my apartment where I can yell and cry and swear and pray and turn off the tv and turn it back on again without the judgment of others. And while it can be a lonely experience – especially when you could be celebrating from a bar stool with friends – on the days when things don’t end on your side, when there is nothing to celebrate except for the fact that your team can leave with their pride in tact – it’s only a short walk back to your room.