BY REBECCA AGULE
The play was incredibly routine; the moment anything but.
Edgar Renteria grounded to Keith Foulke; Foulke passed the ball neatly to Doug Mientkiewicz. Nothing challenging. Nothing special. But in that soft toss my entire life changed.
I can’t even count the number of times I have seen or turned that play, the simplest of in-field guaranteed outs, the one-threes where the pitcher is actually on the ball, backing himself up, playing a little D.
Anyone who has ever even pretended to keep score knows the beautiful simplicity of the pitcher to first. In the middle innings, that’s when you mark your scorecard before the catch, wave down another beer, or head off to the bathroom lines. You simply scratch out the play, with no thought, no pause.
As I watched this, the final out of the World Series – no, the Red Sox getting the final out of the World Series – no, the FREAKING RED SOX getting the last out of the FREAKING WORLD SERIES – I wasn’t shouting at the top of my lungs. Or dancing around in jubilation and pre-naming yet-unborn grandchildren appropriate things like “D.O.” and “D.Lowe” and officially converting to the Church of Johnny Damon. In my mind, these would have been more-than-acceptable responses.
Instead, all I knew was that I couldn’t feel my legs. In that split second, I lost track of every sound and shriek in the bar around me and could only think, repeatedly, “This is my lifetime. I am watching this. This is my lifetime. I am watching this.” I was frozen. My entire body went numb, yet I have never felt more alive.
I hadn’t really slept for the month of October. After the first five games against the Yankees I stopped trying to calculate how many hours had been spent watching baseball since the playoffs had started. I sat in front of the TV for well over nine hours the first day of the playoffs, and that pace never really let up; after a while I just couldn’t count that high. My pathetic attempts to do work or pay attention in class were constantly interrupted by extra-inning games, reading about extra-inning games, or simply staring off into space, thinking about extra inning games. I frequently found myself utterly lost in thought and realized that a silly grin was sitting on my face. On more than one occasion I flipped through the mlb.com picture galleries thinking, “what if…”
And now my “what if…” was real.
Over the last month a small steady group of us came together in the hall lounge for each game. Even if I had planned to watch somewhere else, those plans were inevitably put to rest because of the fear of changing anything. Superstition quickly superseded logic. As we learned what worked and what didn’t, our collective routine became set in stone. A small sample of the rules put into place during the Yankees-Sox series and maintained pretty much until it all ended:
1. Eyes are to be covered during late inning pitches; you can only look when you hear the ball smack the glove.
2. No shaving. If the Sox looked scruffy, it was the least the boys here could do.
3. Certain neighbors were not allowed in the lounge. And when they arrived, we promptly and physically chased them out, not because we didn’t like them or because we didn’t want them to join us for the games, but because there was a strong correlation between their presence and the Sox making really bad errors (though in all fairness, at times there was a strong correlation between our breathing and the Sox making really bad errors).
4. No Red Sox gear was worn. Ever. The first rule of Red Sox games? You don’t talk about Red Sox games.
5. Three Aces must be ordered, fetched and eaten. Every. Single. Day.
6. If the Sox got into a jam, one neighbor had to lie prone on the couch, facing the ceiling, hands over face, until the game began to run smoothly again. In frightening bases loaded defensive situations, we would call for him to stop whatever he was doing (which was often eating Three Aces), move to that specific couch and assume that position until the Sox got out of the inning.
7. Nothing even in the realm of “clutch” could be uttered. Especially not “Mike Timlin is so…”
8. Tim McCarver must be mocked at all times. Well, that wasn’t really a rule. But how can you not mock Tim McCarver?
We broke with our short tradition for Game Four of the World Series, with the logic that if going into Boston caused the Sox to lose, then we would still have Games Five through Seven to make amends. Of course, had the Sox managed to drop four games in a row, we would have tortured ourselves forever as the indisputable jinxes for not watching Game Four from the lounge. My undergraduate homecoming was last weekend, and my friends knew in no uncertain terms that, were the series to go six games, I would not be making an appearance. While I am still not sure they understood, I don’t think a single one of them was surprised.
But for once, destiny (and destination) took over. Hell placed an express order for zambonis and the Sox made quick work of the Cardinals.
As the game ended and sensation began to return to my limbs, I wrapped myself up in the collective celebration and began to revel in the moment. I looked around with the thought that, at that moment, I truly loved every single person in that bar, from the boy determined to congratulate each girl personally with a rather intimate kiss to the Peter Jackson “Lord of the Rings” look-alike. This was the pure unedited incarnation of joy, of something so right and so deserved. The tears came first, then the shouting. I wish I could bottle that feeling and drink it down, for however I might have thought that win would make me feel, the reality was nothing I could have expected or predicted.
I still cannot convince myself it happened. And I am not sure when the truth will finally register. But I hope it takes months, of replaying that last out, of chills racing up and down my spice. Each shiver, each goofy smile feels as beautiful as the last. This feeling should never end. This is Happy.
People like to ask, “Now what?” as if there is no reason to get out of bed in the morning now that the Sox have won the World Series. I think that answer is easy. Worry about free agents, try to find some pitching, take some damn defensive practice. Follow the winter meetings and get ready for next year.
The Sox won, and nothing has ever tasted so sweet. “Now what?” is simple. Let’s do this every October.
Rebecca Agule is a 1L. And a Red Sox fan. Not in that order.