In 1980 we lived with our grandparents after my mom had a “nervous breakdown”. I’m serious. That was her diagnosis.
Every Saturday in the summer my grandfather would get a 12 pack of Naraggansett Tall Boys and sit down to watch the afternoon Red Sox game. Back then they sucked. He got emotionally involved. If they were winning and they brought on their star reliever Bob Stanley, he would get excited and yell, “The soup is on!” He was always yelling at the television.
If they were losing in the 7th inning he would turn off the television and nobody was allowed to watch. But he knew how long the innings lasted and would turn it back on in the 9th. Hoping they came back. they usually didn’t.
They are playing Seattle on the west coast tonight. 10 o’clock game. I don’t get as invested as my grandfather did. I have it on the tv to my left and half an ear turned toward it but my focus is on my memories.
I remember 1975. Carlton Fisk waving the home run fair. Bucky “Fucking” Dent, ruining our year with one swing of the bat. I have always been a Boston sports fan. Sports on tv are my best childhood memories. Yeah, all the adults were still drunk off their asses, but nobody was fighting. Everyone was united, cheering for the team. Our teams always lost but at least they had hope. The chaos was pointed in one direction. It brought us all together.
I was 6 years old and I wanted to be Freddie Lynn. Running full speed across center field, smashing into the wall, crumpling to the ground… Holding up my glove up with the slightest white of the baseball showing from within. “What a catch!” “Unbelievable!” I would have become Dwight Evans in a pinch. Nobody was allowed to be Carl Yastremski. I had no idea they were feeling no pain because they were all drunk and on cocaine.
Couple years later I was really into it. Anybody here remember newspapers? I’m talking well before the internet. The interwhat? They had to run the presses at 11pm in order to deliver the papers across the region by 5am. That worked well for general news. But the baseball games were still going on at 11. They printed all the stats but qualified, (as of yesterday) They couldn’t even tell you who won last night. But I knew. I knew what everyone hit and I calculated their batting averages each day. I looked at the numbers in the paper and remembered what everyone hit the night before. He went 2 for 4, now he’s batting .287. I knew every player’s stats. I was obsessed. We didn’t have Texas Instruments calculators. I did it in my head. That’s how I taught myself math.
I don’t care now. I was happy when they finally won their first World Series but I would not have died if they lost. I did have an instant connection with my grandfather in law who was a die hard fan but I am sure he would have like me anyway. My favorite part lately is how the Red Sox have a following across the country. In some visiting ballparks the Sox have more fans in attendance than the home team fans. I don’t know how that came about. Boston was never well liked.
I still have the game on as I’m typing this. I heard the commotion and J.D. Martinez just broke the stalemate with a home run shot making it 1-0. It’s fun. I like to see them win but I don’t live and die with every pitch like when I was younger.
Honestly, watching baseball is usually very boring. Like, I’ve been sitting here for an hour and a half and that home run was the first action of the game. I wasn’t paying much attention last night but I caught the end when it went into extra innings. It was a one run game and Josh Taylor, who never closes out games was pitching. You could tell he was fucking pumped. His look was intense. Sweat dripping off his nose as he stared down the hitter. They said his average fastball was 94 mph but he was consistently hitting 98 on the gun. And he was going after it. Eckersly, a former Red Sox pitcher who now does the announcing caught my ear. He gets excited. He is intense. Normally a guy calling a game recites his stats off the monitor in front of him. Not Eck. All he does is watch baseball and he remembers everything. He knows last time this batter faced this pitcher was on a Tuesday, 3 months ago and it was a 3-1 count and he hit a curveball to left center field and drove in the tying run. ??? I’m not sure if I ate breakfast this morning.
Anyway, Eckersly doesn’t work every game but he knows his shit. I perked up when he started talking like he was talking directly to the pitcher. Of course the pitcher can’t hear him. But if he could he better listen. Eck was saying, “This kid wants to strike out. He is asking for it. Go after him!” Next pitch, way high, way outside. The kid swung at it! Unhittable! Strike 3! Out. Eck,”I told you! It doesn’t matter where that pitch was thrown… That kid was going to swing at it. I like listening to him call he game more than I like watching the game.
He has his own euphemisms to describe the game which shouldn’t make sense but you know exactly what he means. My favorite is “pair of shoes”. That means the batter just stood there watching a strike 3 fastball go by him. Like an empty pair of shoes.
I don’t know. They are losing right now. I’m just typing to keep myself out of trouble. Trying to share some positive memories. It doesn’t matter if you like baseball. Maybe you like what I have to say about it.