BY REBECCA AGULE
What happens the day you realize that, somewhere deep inside, where you try to avoid looking, you are not actually a very nice person? Does this rude awakening cause an actual shift in reality, or is it simply a more active consciousness of a nasty trait that has lurked beneath the surface all along?
Last Wednesday, as I watched the Phillies survive a 14-inning marathon against the Nationals to remain just this close in the Wild Card hunt (a dream that has since died), I noticed something beautiful ticking across the bottom of the screen. Braves 13, Mets 1. Atlanta sent Pedro Martinez to the showers in the third inning, taking 7 runs from him.
Surely, as on that very night, my beloved Red Sox hardly made a showing against the Devil Rays (a sentence I cannot believe I just wrote), gloating should have been beneath me.
But it wasn’t. Despite my advanced age, I haven’t yet locked onto that maturity-thing. No, instead of winning gracefully, I let the knowledge of the Braves running Martinez into the ground fill me with joy. When Martinez played for the Red Sox, each earned run cut deeply. Now every homer is a balm on old wounds.
As much as it hurts that the Red Sox have already begun their off-season, I found solace in seeing Petey get reamed.
Then I read that Martinez has a torn rotator cuff, and he will require surgery, sidelining him for up to eight months. Objectively, I know the awful extent of this injury. Being the High Holidays and all, I tried to summon proper Jewish guilt for having mocked his pushing the ball the other day. . .but I simply couldn’t muster those appropriate emotions. Instead, I celebrated, albeit silently, that he doesn’t get to join his teammates in October.
How can one girl be so horrible as to enjoy the pain and decline of people who do not even know she exists? To justify this reaction, I have convinced myself that these feelings are just passion rising to the surface. The more positive, opposite side to this nastiness is the utter joy of loving the team, and stretching that love out over the whole game.
It’s not about being a fair-weather fan. It’s about being an all-weather fan. And not just a fan of the team, but a fan of the game. This policy extends to all games, played by all teams, set in all cities, housed in all arenas/domes/stadiums.
This loyalty has been bred into me, a bit like the Labrador who lives and dies by your return home each night. Only I live and die by the success of groups of men I have never met.
In my family, after all of the regular “don’t kill”, “don’t maim”, “don’t steal” rules comes the cardinal commandment, “thou shalt never leave before the last out, the final buzzer or the taking-of-the-knee.” If I ever walked out of a ball park early, I know my grandfather, in the ultimate show of disapproval, would first turn over in his grave and then bean me with a from-the-heavens fastball. Not a risk I am inclined to take.
Has this policy served me well? Undoubtedly countless hours have been spent waiting out the end of a blowout, standing in the freezing rain or falling snow, watching the time clock run down, praying to have the feeling return to my feet. And sure, beating the traffic must be wonderful.
But that single day, when a fumble turns into a touchdown, an on-side kick is recovered for a score and the two points are converted, with a 48-yard field goal finishing everything off, well, lets just say the joy of not having to tune into SportsCenter for the highlights eclipses the benefit of any time saved.
I even based my choice of law school on proximity to Fenway. Do not doubt this; it has been well documented. Harvard, yay. Red Sox? Ever-lasting turmoil? Constant heartbreak? Longing for 2004? YAAAAY.
So am I heartless? Or just an unwavering loyalist, both adoring my own and begrudging my enemies?
I will let you make that decision. But I will also offer this bit of advice. The next time the sun falls behind the horizon, the seat starts to get hard, you begin to shiver and feel jealous of the people headed for their heated cars, take a moment before giving up on your team, down 11-2 in the 8th. Jump up and down a bit, warm your hands in your armpits, and stick it out. Have a backbone and some faith. And for God’s sake, please don’t be “one of them.” You know you are better than that.
Rebecca Agule might only be a 1L, but she does remember the Kirk Gibson home run.