Drooling on the Pillow

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Its Been Berry Berry Good to Me 

I can't tell you how important baseball was to me as a boy. We played every day. Baseball constituted somewhere over 50% of our conversation. I identified with my team, the Pirates, to the point that when they lost I was inconsolable. Literally. Nothing could make me happy on those days. And when they won there was nothing that could bring me down. I was happy in October 1960. I don't think anything since -- the joys of mature relationships, standing ovations, pharmaceuticals -- made me happier. I had boxloads of baseball cards and studied them religiously. I even was given a collection of cards from the '20s and '30s. Mostly Pirates -- Honus Wagner, Arky Vaughn, Pie Traynor. I remember them all, but not with the specificity to know whether I would be rich or own the world had my mother not thrown them out when I went to college.

When Clemente died, I got calls from all over the country from people I hadn't seen in years who knew how I felt about him.

I think the last moment baseball was anywhere near that important to me was the ninth inning of the seventh game of the 1992 NL playoffs. Doug Drabek. Sid Bream. Francisco Cabrera. I felt sledgehammered. It was three days before I came out of my stupor.

Then came the strikes, the money, hyper-expansion, and more strikes. I was long gone from Pittsburgh by then and had made an arrangement with the Yankees to be my supplementary team for rooting purposes, except should they play the Pirates. I haven't had to invoke my in situ clause in the years since and it's beginning to look unlikely in the extreme that I ever will. And, by the way, when I bestowed my favors on the Bombers they were very, very bad.

I'm not saying it's a bad thing that I don't have the same relationship to baseball that I did when I was ten years old, but I am saying its not entirely a good thing. Because it's not just a matter of my more or less maturing. Baseball has changed more than I have.

Well, I'm sounding like a guy on a barstool who's girlfriend dumped him. Before this gets any more pathetic let me congratulate the Sox on a gallant run and extend my condolences to the Red Sox Nation, whose hearts will be broken again tonight.

It's possible the impossible will happen. If it does, I'll live. But it won't. After all, they're the Red Sox
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