Sex & Sox

My passions: Sex and the Boston Red Sox!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Construction of a Zealot

So I was sitting around the other day, trying to remember what it was that made me start liking baseball. My father hated sports, and my mother viewed them indifferently, so it was not a part of my life when I was a child. That time was filled with puppy dogs and video games, reading fantasy novels (with the notable exception of Tolkein, whose Lord of the Rings trilogy I picked up for the first time in September) and picking on my younger siblings (yes, I have an eighteen year old sister; no, you can't have her phone number).

I really only remember my mother and brother sitting down together in front of the television sometime in 2002 and watching baseball games together. Unbeknownst to me, my mother, who grew up in the same damned Connecticut town that she later uprooted us to, was a long-time Red Sox fan, and had been brought into the fold by her brother, who had grown up with aspirations of being on the team, like any good New England boy.

But I didn't watch baseball with them; hell, I didn't particularly like either of them. I suppose that, once I moved back to Connecticut in 2003, I must've sat down and watched baseball news with my family. That was in April; all I know is that, in May, when baseball began, I was living alone in my apartment, and I was addicted.

I'd wake up and go to work, 8:30-5:00, like every other good peon. I had the TV Guide with Nomar on the cover propped up on my desk, surrounded by a halo of "Dilbert" comics (comics that aren't quite so funny now that I'm not in those situations daily), and when the end of the day rolled around my mother would pick me up, tote me home, and I'd go for a run.

I loved running. I'd strip down, toss on a sports bra, tank top, little shorts, ankle socks, and the same damned pair of sneakers I've had since high school, and go. Men would drive by and beep at me. I'd take my time going by the fire station, often pausing to bend over and adjust my shoelaces or stopping to stretch (I have a serious thing for firetrucks and hot men draped upon them).

But the best part of my run was the end -- when I came home, started dinner, and turned on NESN's pregame stuff. It might be on mute while I blasted one CD or another, or I might not be watching it while playing on my laptop, but as soon as they showed that far-away shot of the ballpark, stands full of fans, maybe a white dot or two roaming the field, my full attention was on that television.

2003 is when I fell completely in love with the Red Sox. There was Pedro, the ace, his red glove shading his face, those eyes deep under the gleam of sweat on his brow, with that intense look towards home plate. There was Todd Walker, his stance wide, rocking to and fro on his heels, waiting. There was Grady, not yet taboo, still wholesome and grinning and quintessentially trustworthy, swiping his nose or tapping the bill of his cap or pinching his earlobe. There was Bill Mueller, or at least there he was when Shea Hillenbrand wasn't, and there was Kevin Millar. There was Manny Ramirez, a mysterious and powerful presence, and there was Johnny Damon, waiting to run head-first into the wall and bounce back off, ball in glove. There was Ortiz, huge, unknown, but poised to make an immeasurable impact on Boston baseball. There was Casey Fossum, strong and promising, who would later be the basic block upon which we acquired Schilling.

And there -- the center of my Red Sox universe -- was Nomar.
It was his muscular but lanky build and infamously aquiline nose that caught my attention, his consummate athleticism and obsessive quirks that kept it. I laid there on my couch, in a supine position that later lent itself quite well to sex, and while I watched the team, I studied him. I had heard of him. He graced a pair of posters decorating the hallway near my sister's bedroom, and I can still picture, vividly, that Sports Illustrated cover.

There were times he would make a play and my phone would ring, and before I even answered I knew it was my mother. "What. A. Man-God," she would say, and I would agree, then we'd cheerily exclaim, "Bye!" and hang up.

Of course, I grew to love the entire team. How could I not? I've come to feel that's how being a Boston fan is: all-or-nothing. Not that such a mentality is demanded of us, but something about our boys inspires such a passion that when you talk about the game at work the next day, you don't say, "They had a great game," you say, "We had a great game." You experienced the game, you exalted in every positive and grieved at every negative.

Now, with our long overdue victory, people worry about bandwagon jumpers. The media snickers and expects us to lose our identity as fans. There's a whole slew of naysayers waiting for us to self-destruct, carried down by our own self-righteousness and adoration.

You know what? They can keep on waiting. I may not know how I ended up being addicted to this crazy ride, but I sure don't see myself leaving it any time soon.