Saturday, April 07, 2007

native son

Baseball is an honorable sport. There are no cheerleaders, the uniforms are not sexy. The men don't gloat when they hit a home run, no prancing around in an end zone. They have honor, these men of baseball. It's a game that fathers teach their sons, that grandfathers share with their grandkids, not just the current, but that one time when.... The Buckners and the DiMaggios. The good and the bad. It's the spirit that moves men. Yes, it's become overly commercialized, stylized, branded. But that doesn't take away from the true pull of the game.

My own man of honor is a lifelong member of Red Sox Nation. We fell in love during baseball season, we had a baby during baseball season. J's love of the Sox is contagious, so I've fallen for them too. I know some of you know what I mean.

I remember 2003 when the Sox blew the playoffs. It was crushing. Heartwrenching. Awful. I remember at the time thinking it was better they lost; this curse is so important to the fans, the lore so critical. The Curse. If it went away it all might be lost. There could be no more whining. What would all of Boston do?

The Sox play the A's every year and we are at almost every game. We've driven to LA to see them play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (speaking of bad branding) too. I do this because it's fun, and because J's love is infectious. He loves this team. He knows this team. It's intimate and important, the beauty of baseball. It's part of his fabric.

We happened to be in Boston during the summer of 2004. I was 8 months pregnant at Fenway Park. We were sitting next to a guy who said this fucking team, they break your heart, they lift you up and then smash you to the ground. This fucking team. It was a defining moment, a universal truth. I knew exactly what he meant.

J is from Southie but you'd never know it. His mom and brother are the stereotypes, the language and attitudes, the wicked pissahs, the r's when there shouldn't be and never when they should. You'd never know J was from southie if it wasn't for the Sox.

M was born in September of 2004. Her birth coincided with the A's/Sox series; tickets that were bought after we knew my due date. He missed two games but caught the third. The Sox won the World Series that year, and we have it on video, J crying, the phone ringing off the hook, him holding up our tiny baby girl and telling her that his dream just came true. A lifetime of agony reconciled, batter up, run in, game over.

It's baseball season again; so once again I get to decide who is cute (Varitek) and who is a smuck (it's always Manny), I get to watch J throw himself headlong into his joy and relive his youth. If there is ever a time there is a smattering of southie in him, it's when he's yelling at the Sox, his wayward family who doesn't always live up to their potential.

33 comments:

slouching mom said...

i love this.

there's something so childlike in utter devotion to a sports team. i don't mean childish. i mean the capacity for experiencing wonder, awe, joy...

and i think the coincidence of the arrival of your daughter with the world series win to be magical.

Z said...

Blimey, are you planning on leading a revolution any time soon. Because, speak like that and the world will follow you.

Even those of us in England who think that baseball is actually a little kids' game called rounders. I was, despite that, stirred. STIRRED, I tell you.

Wicked pisser, heh heh.

Blog Antagonist said...

We are a huge baseball family. Both my boys play, and it looks like this summer they will both be playing Allstars. We eat, breathe, and sleep baseball. My oldest sone loves the Sox as well, but my youngest is very steadfastly devoted to the Braves, for good, or for bad.

I have to love it if I want to have any common ground with my boys. And I find that I really, really do.

mamatulip said...

Wahoo! I LOVE baseball...I can't wait to watch me some games!!

Juliness said...

We live, sleep, eat and breathe baseball in this house. Literally. My Phil is the GM of the local minor league team, who used to be an affiliate of the Sox for the last two years but has since returned to KC. (Kansas City?!) Oh, the glory days of the Sox Nation!

Interestingly enough, I happen to work for the original Phillie Phanatic. So I get the baseball bug at work and at home. I am touched by the fervor in both places too. Every spring as baseball comes to life, so do we.

Great post, my friend.

metro mama said...

Baseball is the only sport I like to watch.

Go Sox!

flutter said...

This charmed the hell out of me. I, too love baseball and played it as the girliest outfielder you've ever seen.
Sox is a great team to have allegiances to. *sigh* This reminded me of so many fun times at the ballpark

Mrs. Chicky said...

Great post! I love you even more now than I already did. J too. I'd move out there to be your full time stalker, but I couldn't leave my team behind.

During that World Series, when I was a few months pregnant and taking medication for my constant morning sickness, I could only watch a few innings of each game. Then I would go take a long bath (husband's orders) so I wouldn't stress over each game. Because the Sox? They break your haaht. Not that time, but most of the time.

(And Varitek? Rwaaawr. Love his legs.)

meno said...

That part about the uniforms not being sexy? I dunno, i think a few of those guys fill out the baskside of those pajamas pretty well. I mean, that's what i'd think if i were looking.

kristen said...

I'm in love with a diehard Yankees fan. That is until they started buying up every good player and making the game less pure - now my man roots for the other guys, just because he's disappointed in the Yanks and how they tarnished the game. Personally I can stare at Tino's booty in that uniform all the live long day.
I became a baseball fan the day I first witnessed Andy Pettitte's pick off move. Dude has the best one I've ever seen.

sober briquette said...

I love baseball. My best friend growing up was a Red Sox fan (the only ML ballpark I've been to is Fenway), and we'd watch every game together.

Can you give an example of a sexy uniform? Just curious.

jen said...

well, if I were Jess, I'd have to say Park Ranger, now wouldn't I. But that doesn't work for me. No offense, Jess.

In sports? Soccer uniforms are pretty nice - or maybe it's just the legs.

NotSoSage said...

I can't say I'm a baseball fan, but reading your description of J's fanaticism actually makes me think a little more highly of it.

That is talent, sister.

Laurie said...

My dad has always been a Braves fan and of course being daddy's girl, I am a die-hard Braves fan myself. I agree with you, despite everything, it's a game of honor. Great post, sister.

Mad Hatter said...

There's no fan like a Red Sox fan---except maybe a Leafs fan (yes!! they are still in the hunt). I too, dear wife, am mad about baseball. I'm a Jays fan through thick and sadly, recently, thin.

KC said...

I love this- imagining your house with baseball fever. Did you guys see Fever Pitch? (I thought Jimmy Fallon sucked rocks in that one, but I'm always a fan of Drew Barrymore).

Speaking of soccer uniforms, JP was goalie in high school and college...so among the soccer uniform and the navy whites uniform, I'm about in heaven over here.

liv said...

I just love that last bit. I don't know about you, but I feel like all of our families are a bit wayward and hell, if we're not all really living up to our collective potential. It makes us us.

And I say this as the relative of an Atlanta baseball team who chronically disappointed until the mid nineties. I grew up heartily used to sadness sitting in the cheap seats.

urban-urchin said...

Southies are good folk (I have very good Southie friends) salt of the earth these people.

We took our kids to an A's game last year (yeah don't laugh) and I was reminded of two things. Baseball games are so much more fun to go to than football games- and baseball players are hot.

crazymumma said...

I hope the Red Sox come up to Toronto. I will go and scream at them on J's behalf. Or hell. Why dontch'all come up and take a visit with your northern fans. Wonder if M will ever throw a ball around?

(bigirl is singing the anthem at the stadium with her choir very soon for the Blue Jays).

Penny. said...

Wow. That was beautiful, Jen! Makes me wish I loved baseball.. or knew anything about it at all. I think Canada has a couple, or maybe one, major league, but not in the west - we're all hockey.

Great post, Jen!

I love the image of J with tears in his eyes and M as a tiny baby..

Beautiful and unifying. Love sport for that.

Penny. said...

Oh.. and football.. yeah.. we have football - CFL. It's pretty awesome, too!

Still.. you make me wish we had baseball.

..We have soccar.. and lacrosse! You have lacrosse?

karrie said...

I was pregnant with my M, in Boston that same summer. (Born in August.)

Fenway+ pregnant=wicked pissah indeed

rhea said...

Wow, a homeboy. I have lived in Boston for over 30 years.

QT said...

I really enjoy attending baseball games - the weather, the atmosphere, and the beer - nice post!

Pgoodness said...

Fabulous post! I, too, married a man passionate about baseball (not the Red Sox, the Tigers - very similar in disappointments over the years!). While I was always a Tiger fan growing up, I learned to love the sport more and more over the years. There is something pure and wonderful within the game of baseball and my husband's undying devotion and love of it. The childlike joy, the fierce pride and disappointment...it's so neat to be a part of.
Not to mention that there is absolutely no better way to spend a summer afternoon than at the ballpark. How DO they get the grass that green??

cce said...

Somehow I missed this one the first time around but glad you've been perfect posted. I grew up with two brothers and a father who are, and have always been, steeped in all things Red Sox. Glad you've learned to live with your guy's obsession with the game. For some reason the Sox are like addiction...so much joy and need and craving mixed in with the heart break.

Felicia said...

I also missed this one before...spring break or something.

The baseball lover in me is frozen in the 1980s with the Chicago Cubs with Ryne Sandberg and Mark Grace. The Cubs are the other heartbreakers...but maybe now that Boston's broken their curse, Chicago can too.

We had four days of Yankees tickets last year and managed to blow them all off. Not this year. Thanks for the reminder of what a nice afternoon it can be (minus the "fucking team" comments...don't need the chitlins repeating that!)

Binky said...

Add me to the list who missed this the first time. I'm glad Mrs. Chicky rectified that. The penultimate paragraph is absofuckinglutely captivating.

P.S. I come from a VERY conflicted state as it relates to baseball. Half go for the Sox and half for the Yankees. My immediate family is all Sox, but it gets dicey with the extended folks.

Mr Big Dubya said...

In January 2005, when we told people we were expecting, they would instantly start trying to do the math in their head. Then they would start laughing and say, "The baby was conceived when the Sox won, right?" Granted, it is a nice coincidence, but untrue.

As we waited in the OR to have the c-section for #2, our pedi, a lifelong Yankees fan, asked us what we were naming the baby - Papi, I said. My wife, quicker witted than I even at this time, said "if it's a boy, Theo and Thea if it's a girl."

I think I know where you're coming from.

margalit said...

Aw, come on. Manny is just being Manny. Papelbaum is my new personal favorite. Man, he is adorable. And Dice-K? He looks like he's 12 but man can he pitch. And speaking of pitching, are you guys following Curt's blog? It's amazing, a fabulous inside look into the Sox dugout. I'm loving it.

We lived in Cupertino for years and drove up to see every Sox game at Oakland. It always amazed me to see how many Sox fans there were, at least half the crowd. And so fun to chat with them and see where they were originally from. We met so many interesting people there. And the seats. So Freaking Cheap. I couldn't believe it.

Now we're back in Beantown and I can't afford to go to Fenway. They have these new Conigiliaro seats to honor 25, but you have to wait in line for hours to get them. We're going to try for July, when it's hot and people are on vacation. Maybe we'll luck out!

Major Bedhead said...

As a life-long member of Red Sox Nation, I have to say, this post rocked. There is something poetic about baseball in general and the Red Sox in particular. The world pretty much stops for me while the Sox are playing.

In the Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Linked over here from Chicky Baby. And just read your entire blog. And could relate to this post because I, a born and bred Yankees fan with a father who grew up in the Bronx, married a Sox fan and am now converted (did I have any choice?) NESN is on our TV(s) 24/7 and we have a 5-1/2 year old who not only knows the entire lineup and their numbers but also has memoriezed the players' BIRTHDATES. I'm so screwed.

something blue said...

There is nothing like that rush of testosterone when cheering for your favorite team!

This is a very sweet post.