After a year where no one followed the Red Sox because there was no way we were going anywhere after our start, and then after no one paid much attention because we were locked into the playoffs, we finally have some interesting baseball to watch. Tonight’s game determines how much more. It could be the last if the Red Sox lose and the Rays win, we could have one more guaranteed game if the Rays and Red Sox both win (making gaming night a challenge – one of my fellow gamers is also a Sox fan so we might compromise with like a tv on sound off or something), or we might have at least 3 more games in Round 1 of the playoffs. As I sit here, all of these possibilities unfold across baseball diamonds up and down the East Coast with home runs, errors, fantastic double plays, rain delays and all the things that make baseball a sport to love.
About this time every year I feel the impulse to write a thank you note, a love note, to baseball. For a little over half the year, baseball gives me something to look forward to, something to talk about. I listen at 9 pm on my way to go grocery shopping, and catch up on the score at the deli counter where the radio is always on. Joe and Dave keep me company while I pay bills in the attic, and Don and Jerry crack jokes during blowouts. I snuggle my son and explain all the mysterious numbers on the screen, pretending not to notice it’s after his bedtime. Baseball and coffee are two of the small, durable pleasures that weave a colorful thread into the utilitarian cloth of my life.
And yes, I love baseball enough to compare it to coffee. That’s how serious our romance is.
Tonight it will be all over. Or there will be one more do or die game. Or we will advance. This season we will end with a whimper, or a bang, or triumphal victory. Exhausted men will grind through with passion, obligation, ambition and long practice to ignominy or ecstasy.
No one alive knows which. And that, my friends, is why I love this game.