(Sunday Paper, Volume III, Issue 42)
I might have told this story before, but likely not in this iteration of the Sunday Paper.
What you see there at the left is a moment I thought would be historic - the moment the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series - their first such win in 86 years.
A World Series championship - even just a World Series appearance! - is such a rare thing, who even knew if we’d see the Red Sox make another World Series after that dramatic autumn.
Things certainly have taken a turn.
Kathy didn’t even remember that we took the picture when I showed it to her. (And asked her permission to post it.)
Now we are on the verge of the fourth World Series appearance for the Red Sox since Kathy and I were married in May of 2004.
And, if I’m being honest, it’s a little hard for me to take.
I rooted for the Yankees right up until 1996.
I was never one of those people who grew up believing if you rooted for one New York team you had to hate the other. I loved the Jets, but didn’t hate the Giants. I loved the Mets, but for most of my life the Yankees were just as terrible.
Then they started winning, and I didn’t much care for it. When they beat the Mets in the 2000 World Series, I began actively rooting against them.
The same was true of the Red Sox. I moved to Boston figuring it was harmless to root for them, a hapless American League team who couldn’t win the big game…or, more accurately, saw something unusual happen that prevented them from winning it all.
Sure, I met the occasional obnoxious local who made me glad when the Yankees started winning World Series and often bested the Red Sox to do it…but I loved (still do) going to Fenway Park to watch baseball, and when I moved here nothing was better than watching Pedro Martinez pitch.
And in 2003 I watched Aaron Boone homer off Tim Wakefield and became convinced the franchise would never win.
I think I was rooting for the Red Sox in 2004. I can’t remember. But here’s what I remember: It was exciting. Once they got past the Yankees, and there was a World Series in town? I got caught up in it.
It was my first year teaching, and I came up with an extra credit assignment: if they cared to, the students could keep a World Series journal so that they could always look back on this once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was an assignment I wished I had been given in 1986, so I could look back on what 8-year-old me was thinking as the Mets won their last World Series.
Some of the students really rocked that assignment. I loved reading what they wrote, and two of them especially stood out: One who was a huge baseball fan who wrote about her enjoyment of the games and the team, and one who wasn’t a huge baseball fan who wrote about the World Series experience he was observing in Boston. It was exactly what I wanted out of the assignment.
Well, except for the fact that three years later I assigned it again, this time a little less enthusiastically.
And then, in 2013, I don’t even remember if I gave the assignment. It didn’t feel special anymore. The Red Sox had not only won two World Series in those kids’ lifetimes - they hadn’t even lost a World Series game.
In 2004, despite the fact that I had a crazy schedule of teaching and going to classes, I stayed up for every game, I captured pictures I thought would stand the test of time…I even drew a picture of the Red Sox celebrating for Kathy that I thought was a great gift. (It wasn’t.)
The only good thing to come out of this year is that I’ll be the most well-rested person in New England by the end of the month.
I will watch the games, I’ll enjoy the World Series, because I love baseball.
But I won’t feel any urge to stay up until all hours of the night to see a final out.
Unless maybe the Red Sox are on the verge of losing the World Series.
That’s the kind of thing you just don’t see anymore.
*I guess after last week’s comedy-heavy post I’ll owe you a writing-heavy one soon. It might be a good time for one anyway - for the first time in the last four years I have a pretty steady writing work routine.
*This was a great week, the kind of week I need to have more of. It started last Sunday night, when I told you that instead of watching baseball I was going to go watch comedy at The Comedy Studio. I was asked to jump on the show and perform, so that was awesome. And then Wednesday I checked out a show at Bill’s Bar, which has a couple of shows a week, and did the open mic there…and then last night I got added to a show in Framingham.
This week I’ll be at Improv Boston tonight on a show that starts at 9:30 (so I’ll likely swing by The Comedy Studio before that…its location now in Bow Market is almost equidistant to Improv Boston from where its location was before in Harvard Square), and I’m doing some other fun stuff that I’m not sure I’m supposed to be publicizing later in the week. But it’s looking like a strong finish to the year after kind of a slow summer comedy-wise.
What I’ve Been Enjoying
*I probably would have written about the Red Sox anyway this week, but it was also on my mind because of this piece written by comedian Lamont Price, which I thought was a unique take on the “Red Sox have been so good for so many years” narrative. Also in the category of ‘comedians and sports writers’ - do you know who Jeff Pearlman is? He’s mainly a sportswriter, I guess, but he also writes about other topics. (He’s the author of, among other books, The Bad Guys Won, a history of the aforementioned World Series champion 1986 New York Mets.) Anyway, I need to delve deeper into his website, but I guess he’s a pretty active blogger and often publishes interviews with people he finds interesting doing interesting things. And one such person this week was Maine comedian Connor McGrath. He’s very funny, and Jeff recognizes that and I’d say it’s worth your time. (For what it’s worth, both of those links include language that I’d rate as PG-13, in case there’s any young readers out there…or any readers. Hello? Anyone?)
*Hey, the Jets won last week, setting me up for disappointment against a much better team this week. I will say, no matter what happens this season, it is fun watching them with a good quarterback. I always thought they’ve had young quarterbacks who are good, who then betray me. Turns out, they haven’t. They actually have a good quarterback this year and he looks better than anyone I’ve ever seen in a Jets uniform.
*(And today I’m sneaking out to watch them play. It’s the first time in years I’m taking a Sunday away from the family to sit in front of a TV at a bar that has the Sunday Ticket. And I could not be more excited about it. [Thanks Kathy!] If you want to hang for all or part of the 1 o’clock games, text me, or Facebook message me to find out where I am. [Or, if you see this early enough and have a suggestion of a place to be, I’m open to them. I don’t know who still even has the Sunday Ticket.] I am 100% OK with sitting by myself for a few hours, but I also wouldn’t say no to company. It’s just like the good ol’ days…where I panic that the place won’t have the Jets until 1:05 when the game is finally locked onto a screen.)
*If you’ll indulge me, I have two more World Series notes…1) If my Red Sox rant above reads as a little bit jealous…well, you’re correct. I’m pretty jealous. It’s not fun for me to see people who I very much like enjoying something so often that is so rare for me. Sure, the Mets were in the World Series in 2015 but I don’t even feel like I had a chance to enjoy that…and who knows when it will happen again…and oh, yeah, they haven’t won one since I was 8 years old. Also 2) it is best for my comedy life when the local teams are not doing well. Shorter seasons, so I don’t have to worry about parking in Boston, for example, and less distractions so shows aren’t up against big games, whether that’s a Sox game in October or a Pats game in January. (Or a Celtics game in June…etc.)
*Hey, you’re probably wondering after seeing that picture above, did you take a similar picture of yourself in 2015 when the Mets lost the World Series? Oh, you mean when no one would stay awake with me and I was sitting by myself and I was super sad, did I have the presence of mind to take a picture of myself just in case an opportunity ever presented itself for me to use that picture to contrast the joy of winning a World Series with the disappointment in losing one? Maybe. Is today the day to share it? Sure.
(You might also remember this picture from the rejected Christmas card pile a couple of years ago.)
*Thanks for reading. Maybe I’ll see you later? OK. Jake and Joe’s in Waltham at 1? Improv Boston at 9:30? That’s likely my day. Twitter followers can find me here. (I’m going to tweet like hell today about the Jets.) Facebook ‘Like’ers can Like me here. (I promise you I’m trying to figure out a better way to utilize that page and put out some fun stuff.)