Flashback. The year is 1992. I am 10 and I have just bought my first Red Sox hat. I am really excited. Guess I’m a Red Sox fan now. Cool. Wait a second, what am I doing as a Red Sox fan? After all, I’m from Texas! Oh yeah, my favorite player is Roger Clemens, and he is also from Texas. And he pitches for the Red Sox. Boom. So there it is, I guess. I am a bona-fide Red Sox fan. I bet this will be a decision I won’t regret …
Fast-forward 12 years. Here I am, watching the Red Sox lose game two of the ALCS against (who else) the hated (by me) New York Yankees, and that all-too familiar feeling returns. The feeling is one of loneliness, confusion, bewilderment and fatigue. To borrow from Red in The Shawshank Redemption, part of me wants to talk to that young, clueless kid of 10 who thought it was a good idea to root for the Red Sox. I want to try and talk some sense into him, but I can’t. That little kid is gone, and nothing remains but this tired old 22-year-old Red Sox fan. How did I ever come to such a point in my life? Where did my baseball innocence go? I want to love the game again! GOD, WHY AM I A RED SOX FAN?
Okay, maybe that cry for help was a bit over the top. I do love baseball, and I really do love my team, but c’mon, what would a Boston Red Sox fan be without gratuitous self-loathing? We are destined to lose! Our identity is defined by the fact that we haven’t won a World Series since 1918, and to tell the truth, I myself have gotten self-pity down to an art. For example, after the Red Sox lose a big game, I find myself particularly annoyed if my friends don’t ask me if I’m okay, and if they can get me anything. Here at the RELEVANT office, the plight I have endured isn’t the least bit acknowledged. I even had to explain the meaning behind my "Damon Is My Homeboy" t-shirt. No approving laughs from my fellow co-workers. No "I appreciate the satirical elements of your totally awesome shirt!" comments. Nothing. If Hallmark made special cards for Red Sox fans that said "Sorry about the Yankees game … get well soon," I would not have received one. While it’s devastating when your team loses, it’s even worse when virtually no one notices.
But I digress. This article was supposed to be about what’s great about baseball, not a group therapy session … ahem. Okay, my apologies, I think I’m good to go now. I’ll try to keep my references of the Red Sox to a minimum, I promise. Here we go.
Baseball is great because it’s a family game. It’s tradition, America’s pastime. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s still something special about bringing your glove to a baseball game and catching a foul ball (which I’ve never done), getting your favorite ballplayer’s autograph (which I’ve never gotten), or eating a box of Cracker Jacks (which I’m allergic to) during the seventh-inning stretch. Okay, but seriously, how fun does all that sound?
My first actual experience with the sport is somewhat hazy, but I’m pretty sure it involved me striking out during a tee-ball game. However, despite my lack of athletic prowess at the plate, I absolutely fell in love with the sport. I mean, think about it, as a kid, what’s not to love about getting Hi-C and a Snickers bar after every game, even when you lose! Although I soon realized that my future career as the shortstop of the Boston Red Sox (whoops) was in serious jeopardy because of my blatant lack of talent, my love of the game has never …
Who am I kidding? Let’s talk about the Red Sox, and how it pertains to my faith. Because right now, faith in the Red Sox is something I’m struggling with. At least I still have my faith in God. Speaking of God …
God, why am I a Red Sox fan? Why did you put a burning desire in my heart to see them succeed? Why do they let me down year after year? Why are some years more painful than others? Why didn’t you make me a Detroit Tigers fan, when my disappointment would be quick and painless, and not happen anywhere near October? Why, God, why?
Hmm, let’s see. I could go the pre-destiny route. That I had nothing to do with it. That it isn’t my fault. That all of this was ordained by God. God was looking for an opportunity to humble me and make me turn to Him alone for guidance and comfort, and rooting for the Red Sox was the perfect way. God is teaching me valuable lessons and strengthening my character, using the game of baseball as a medium. Year after year, the Red Sox, much like all things on this earth will one day do, crumble, and God remains the only One who will never leave me. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but if being a Red Sox fan brings me closer to God, who am I to complain? Or maybe God is a Yankee fan.
No way. Not a chance. Sorry I even brought it up. I mean, their nickname is "The Evil Empire!" Even though New York winning 26 World Championships could serve as evidence to the contrary, I know God doesn’t take sides when it comes to sporting events, and that fact is extremely comforting to me right now. Mostly because it means the Red Sox still have a chance tonight against the Yankees. However, I know that in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a game. Fortunately, it’s a game that allows fans to dream of the impossible, to believe in the possibility of a miracle, and to continue to root for a team that hasn’t won a World Series since 1918. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get painted up for tonight’s game. Go Sox![Jeff Worthen is unavailable to write this bio, as he is currently serving as cheap labor for the RELEVANT suits. He enjoys singing the lyrics "I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier" over and over, and is happy for his editor, as the Cardinals are looking unstoppable.]
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