How I Became A Wannabe Red Sox Fan

I wrote this article on April 8, 2006

I’ve always been a girly girl. You know us, we wore the shiny patent leather shoes and refused to get them or our clothes dirty. Then as we got older, we started scouring Cosmo for fashion and make-up tips, and we had a thing for mirrors, shiny lip gloss, and combs (those big, fat one’s with the long handle that we’d stick in our Gloria Vanderbilt jeans back pocket). Who would have ever thought that when I moved to Massachusetts, I would not only watch but actually be interested in baseball?

It’s been a slow process of evolution for me, and I still haven’t achieved fan status (this is where you watch every game, follow scores and standing, and know if the next game will be played at home or away) let alone avid fan status (this is where you go to games topless, having painted yourself blue (or whatever team color), wave a giant sponge finger, and carry homemade signs containing messages for the players. Or the media. Avid fans often have season passes.). There are also obsessive, potentially dangerous fans, who have all the characteristics of avid fans but also go on tour with their team, like Deadheads and Phisheads do. I will never achieve avid or tortured fan status, but maybe I can get still closer to fandom.

Everyone knows the “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” theme, or most everyone does. And you can hardly exist in our culture without knowing SOMETHING about baseball. I mean it is everywhere. A League of Their Own was a wonderful movie about the all-women league , Cold Case did an excellent episode on the Negro League, and Meatloaf reminded us that horny young men will make all sorts of promises to get to fourth base before being gone, gone, gone, like a Bat Out of Hell. Okay, so the baseball run down was in Paradise By the Dashboard Light, but it sounded good. And there are scores of baseball-based (har) movies, including but not limited to: The Natural, Angels in the Outfield, Bull Durham, Bad News Bears, Damn Yankees, Field of Dreams, and on and on and on. Some of these movies are darn good! Because I’m a horror and suspense buff, one of my favorites was the DeNiro flick The Fan. Good stuff. One of my very favorite movies is Frequency. Guess what a major part of the film is about? Yep, baseball.

I’m lucky. The first baseball game I ever attended was at Fenway Park. THE Fenway Park: original, historic, sizzling Fenway Park. The person I was there with was fabulous: explaining each play, going over the rules of the game, giving me the names of the lineup, nudging me when it was time to do the wave, apologizing to the couple I spilled my five dollar beer on when I got over-excited, and best of all telling me about the seventh inning stretch. Apparently, President Taft–the one you never hear about, but when you see a picture of gigantic president, you sort of know he was a president. Well, that’s Taft. Anyway, being a large man, and baseball stadiums having small wooden seats (at least then), Taft became uncomfortable during the game, so he stood up to stretch between innings. He’s the president, and when he stands, everyone stands. And thereafter, we have the seventh inning stretch. I love that story. (I’m not sure it’s true, but if it’s not, it should be.)

But say you aren’t a Meatloaf fan and have somehow managed to live your life without seeing even one baseball movie, surely you made out with someone as a teen. Well, did you get to first base (kissing), second base (kissing and groping over clothes), third base (kissing and groping under clothes), and home plate (touchdown! to mix a sport’s metaphor)? Or since you’re blogging and obviously online, did you get the “Why Baseball’s Better Than Sex” thing that was flying around?

I’m a Red Sox fan-to-be: should I achieve fan status, the Sox will be my team. This year, the Sox are almost all new players, so who knows what will happen? We’ve still got Manny, David Ortiz, Trot, and Curt Schilling, though, so it’ll be a season worth watching. Being a wannabe Sox fan is cool (unless I’m in a room full of Yankee fans), and the Sox have the best freaks and superstitions. Before the Curse of the Bambino was broken with the Sox World Series Championship, they would have people come and try to lift the curse with big containers of Morton Salt and crystals. The local news team would cover these curse-lifting rituals and run them early in the show, in the important time slots usually reserved for state and local news (like cop killings and bank robberies, not the bottom slots where they report on stolen duck sculptures and missing Virgin Mary statues.)

The curse of the Bambino, for those of you who don’t know, began in 1918 when Babe Ruth played a fundamental part in the Sox winning that World Series (it was like their fourth or fifth series win). He was a star, even if you don’t know or follow baseball, you probably have heard of him. Anyway, the Sox sold Babe, well, his contract, to the Yankees in 1919 or 1920, think it was ’20. Somewhere along the way it caught hold that Babe Ruth, aka the Bambino, had cursed the Sox for selling him off like an unwanted sofa, and ever since then the Sox never won another World Series (and do not get me started on the arrogance that is embedded in the term “World Series” when only American teams play.). Until, that is, in 2004 when they wiped the floor with the Saint Louis Cardinals (they did, I’m not being mean; it was a complete sweep–the Sox won all of the games, the Cardinals won none, for those of you not familiar with the term “sweep.” See, I’ve learned a lot about baseball in only a few years.)

Getting back to the Sox oddities: look at that poor Ted Williams, his son had his head lopped off and stored in a deep freeze for later reanimation or brain transplant or some such. I guess he thought when science catches up to what killed Ted (I think it was old age), they can revitalize him and stitch him back together (his body is in a separate cryogenic container). My guess is that science that advanced won’t be able to do much with a frozen head. Even the frozen head of a Baseball Hall of Fame hitter.

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