Monday, October 22, 2007

What was beautiful about the Red Sox winning last night and going to the World Series was seeing these tough macho athletes leaping into each other's arms like burly ballerinas, carrying each other around, legs wrapped around waist, like kids. What was beautiful was watching the coach, a middle-aged white guy, pouring a bottle of no-doubt very expensive champagne down the neck of Big Poppy, David Ortiz, a beautiful black man, and hugging him and hanging on like he was Santa Claus and this was Christmas.

"It's very homoerotic," I poked G in the ribs with my elbow.

He snorted. "Whatever."

Beyond erotic, it was love, pure love, a huge outpouring of it. Mass energy, catharsis on a grand scale, drama and excellence and sacrifice, ritual and redemption.

I can't believe I'm writing about this.

I've always been scornful of sports, probably because I'm not coordinated enough to play them. Picked last on gym teams in junior high, I became head of the Drama Club in High school and ducked out of gym class whenever I could. Were it not for modern dance, I would have gotten an F in the whole business.

But somehow in middle age, I have muddled through to enjoy fierce amateur games of tennis, the thwacking of the ball, extending my body in time and space beyond where i thought the limits were. It feels good, it feels new, it feels like a welcome relief from all this reading and writing and introspection.

And since G has this hi-def TV, which cost a mint and which I gave him no end of flak for buying, and since the Red Sox are, well, the closest thing to a religion my father really has ("Did he mind that C's not Jewish?" a friend asked. "He said, 'As long as he doesn't root for the Yankees,'" I answered.)

Anyway, we watched.

It was a great game! Close at the beginning, and then the Sox picked up speed and just ran over the Cleveland Indians. The pitcher who came in after the old pitcher got tired looked like a bull staring down a matador. I swear I saw his nostrils flare. (On these hi-def TVs you can see everything: their saliva, their spit--and why do they spit so much? If I were their mothers I would be embarrassed to see my kid spitting like that on national TV. On the other hand if I were their mother, I'd be laughing all the way to the bank, so take that, Miss Manners.)

The new pitcher looked like a bull, and he pitched like a laser gun. Ferocious. Every pore and follicle of him focused, no checking out, no haze. In a way it was like seeing a Zen master concentrate in action.

He pitched perfectly, and the Red Sox didn't give up another run for the rest of the game. And when the skinny little white rookie hit a home run so hard that the ball pinged off the giant Coke sign in Fenway Park, and then rounded the bases and leaped into Big Poppy's arms for a teddy bear hug while the stands erupted, I jumped off the couch and screamed and danced around the room.

It was so comforting to realize that my father, 3,000 miles away was also probably leaping and screaming at that point (if he hadn't dozed off in his big chair in front of the TV since the game was on way past his bedtime.) It was like what he always says at Passover: "Jews all over the world are sitting down tonight to celebrate, just as we are." And Boston fans all over the world will be tuning in on Wednesday to hear how the first game went, and I will be angling for another invite from G to sit in front of his hi-def TV where I can see the beads of sweat form on the batter's brow.


miket said...

It is difficult, this feeling that rooting for the Red Sox is akin to rooting for Microsoft.
I miss the days of Calvinistic Clouds of self-doubt. I am New Englander, Bostonian, I need to feel doom not whatever this is after another 4-game sweep in the World Series.
Interesting that someone at your end of the nation is part of Red Sox Nation.
One thing: It is "Pappy'' not "Poppy.''
The latter was that former president.

Mike on Cape Cod

Alison said...

Yeah, you're right, and actually I think it is Papi, with an accent over the i. I to preferred being an underdog. I was appalled to hear some sports commentator say the other day that the team the Sox most resemble now is the Yankees! The Yankees!! But, of course, he was right in a way. I hate to think we bought this Series by paying the most for the best players. It's beginning to remind me of our electoral system.

Alison in Oakland (formerly of Cambridge and Lexington)

miket said...

I focus on loving the baseball, the games, the plays.
There is a great story about an old man dying in the hospital. After the Sox came back from 0-3 against the Yankees in 2004 and beat the Yankees, the old man's son rushed to his father's bedside with the news.
"It's too late, now,'' the old man said.
Yes! They teased in '75, '78, '86...It was too late for being exhuberant.
I worked that in my novel. But no matter how much I try to not be emotionally involved, I get emotionally involved.
It is akin to swearing off another relationship.

Peace from Cape Cod
Michael the runner, poet, writer, lover of the outdoors