Dan Mackie: The Red Sox and Me
As downtrodden Yankees fans are well aware, the Boston Red are the champions of professional baseball on Earth and all other known planets, although the claim might be disputed by outlier nations such as Cuba, North Korea and possibly, France, where they have their own ideas about everything.
I say “we’’ won with a tiny bit of trepidation, because some people might claim that technically I am not a member of the Boston Red Sox Baseball Club.
This is, of course, technically true. I am batting .000 lifetime for the Bosox, and have never snagged a fly or scooped up a grounder. In my defense, I have never made an error, which speaks to the underrated principle of nothing ventured, nothing lost.
I have stood only briefly on the green, green grass of Fenway Park, on an opening day years ago when I had a press pass to write a feature story. To the boy inside me, it was like hanging out in the Oval Office or the Sistine Chapel, only with better availability of peanuts and hot dogs.
This year, I participated in the season from afar: zero games in person. Unlike Big Papi, I don’t get free admission or my own parking space. When I went to Fenway a couple of years ago, the $135 face value of the ticket astonished me. The view was pretty good, but I was crammed into a hard little milk crate of a seat.
And so I followed the games this year through the newspaper, the radio, and an obsessive online discussion board for Sox fans named sonsofsamhorn.com. I watched a few games on television, but not many, because we wouldn’t upgrade to the 700 cable channels you need to get the Red Sox in high definition, and midway through the season cut our cable entirely in a fit of pique aimed at Comcast, bait-and-switch bundling, and something else that I don’t remember. When a customer retention person called a few days later who spoke impenetrable English, I shook my fist against everything unholy.
When we cut the cable, I didn’t anticipate that the Red Sox would make it past the first round of the playoffs. Little did I know that the team, due to good starting pitching and magical beards, would defeat the Rays and the Tigers, who seemed, at times, monumentally good. And finally, the Cardinals.
We watched a couple playoff games at sports bars, where I nursed a beer as long as possible. We saw the clincher at the Collis Center at Dartmouth College, next to students who pecked at their iPhones at they listened to the announcer. Tap-tap-tap. “Bases loaded.” Tap-tap-tap. “It’s gone!’’
The relationship of a fan and a team is one sided. I don’t expect that Dustin Pedroia will “like” my Facebook posts, or that Papi will mail a Christmas card. “Thanks, Dan Mackie, for being one of us,’’ he won’t write, in English or Spanish. “We have many fans, but someone like you, you make us play better day in and day out, because we know you care.”
I don’t imagine that Manager John Farrell will send a note admitting that he made a few blunders and could have consulted me more. Plainfield’s favorite son, Ben Cherington, has nothing to apologize for, of course. I couldn’t have done better myself, even if I sometimes momentarily thought that I could.
The revelation was Koji Uehara, the 38-year-old reliever from Japan who saved the day again and again with wondrous control, and pitches that darted like shadows. He confessed that when they called upon him in one big game, he felt like throwing up.
And in the end, Koji jumped with joy and utter relief, a man who knew all the things that could go wrong. He had eluded them all.
Yes, I said as the last swing missed his last pitch. It won’t always end this way, but this time it did. We won!
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.