Thursday, March 24, 2005

You can't explain irrationality 

Chad at Fraters thinks I will have to ditch my loyalty to the Red Sox after discovering a Red Sox cap on the head of The Font of All Fiskwas.

My boy, my boy, let me explain something.

Citizenship in Red Sox Nation requires more than donning the cap. While irrationality and feistiness certainly help -- and Coleman has those two attributes going for him -- it takes much more. David Halberstam, who wrote what I still consider to be the best baseball book ever, offers this piece of anthropology:

It is relatively easy, of course, to identify the members of the Nation. Not just the cap or the T-shirt or even the sweatshirt, though these days a great many arrive at events or games with gloves and at least partially in uniform. But there is also, I think, a certain look that gives away membership in the Nation -- it's a look of someone enthusiastic, but wary, (or wary, but enthusiastic) and there's a certain noticeable hunger to it. It's all right to believe and to care, the look seems to say, but one would do well not to invest too much emotion in the idea of actually winning. You care but you care guardedly. I would describe the principal emotion as one of deep

It's a condition, being a Red Sox fan, not a cult, nor a religious affiliation, although there are on occasion certain religious experiences. (Think Yaz in '67, and Fisk in the World Series in '75, Ortizzle and JD18 in '05 --kb.) Most Americans are relatively indifferent to the past, believing that America is so powerful that history does not matter, that our nation is so strong and energetic, that we can mold the present to our needs, despite the burdens of the past. Not Red Sox fans: They know the past matters, and they know as well that you are, more than you realize, a prisoner of it. In a country where there has been an amazing run of material affluence for almost 60 years with the expectation built into the larger culture that things are supposed to get better every year, citizens of RSN know better. They know that things do not always get better. They know that the guys in the white hats do not always win in the last five minutes of the movie. They know the guys in the black hats have plenty of last-minute tricks, and that they can pick up just the right player off the waiver list in the waning days of a season (think Johnny Mize, 1949).

Coleman is not wary and his enthusiasm seems to be for smaller things like KAR than for the Crusade Against the Unholy Steinbrenner.

My name is King, and I am a member of Red Sox Nation. From Conig and Yaz to Rice and Fisk to ManRam and Tek. From Radatz and Monboquette to El Tiante and Spaceman to Petey and Jesus Christ Schilling Superstar. Because you're only young once, but you can be immature forever.

People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring. ~Rogers Hornsby