It's not about the house.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Birth of a Nation

You may have noticed that I didn’t post here yesterday. I was – and I’m man enough to say so – pouting up a thirty-year anniversary of a storm.

I stayed in bed until the last possible second, ate for breakfast all the junk food that I couldn’t face the night before, dressed in black down to my socks, drove to the T station and paid to park there instead of walking like I usually do, and sighed. A lot.

I didn’t think I’d be able to face the newspaper. But when I saw the “History Derailed” headline staring at me from the coin-op box, I realized I had no desire to be that guy. If I had read the sports section daily for the past two weeks, then it really did behoove me to read the damn thing now. If only for Dan “The Jinx” Shaughnessy’s apologia to all.

I dug out my two quarters and plunked them down, only to find out that the Globe chose today, of all possible days, to raise their newsstand prices by 50%. I didn’t have another quarter, but now I had to have the g-d thing, so I left those two in the machine and walked up to 7-11. On my way back, with my $1.25 edition of the 50¢ rag, I let out one quick sob when I saw the picture of a dejected Junior Seau heading for the locker room under the confetti storm after what, if I were his wife, I would insist was his last grasp for the ring.

I read the paper on the train. I sighed. A lot. I changed cars at JFK to get away from the crazy homeless guy who wouldn’t stop muttering to himself about how “Eli brought it home.” But I read it, every word. Every word. There was no apologia from Jinxy, either.

When I got off the T, downtown was dead. Everybody’d taken the day off because they thought they were going to be up all night celebrating. Jinxers. I walked down the block and into the building where I work, not yet ready to have the conversation with the doorman who has all season played Howie Long to my Monday-morning Terry Bradshaw. I swung the doors, raised one hand, and announced to the lobby in general that I didn’t want to talk about it. And do you know what this Buckethead says to me?

“Eh. It’s just a football game.”

Just a— oh hell no. I shook my head, signed myself in, and went upstairs.

On my way, I ran into this pinko in a Giants jacket, talking at the top of his voice about how he’d won so much money on the game, and “explaining” to all of us how the Giants were New England’s team before Patriots were invented. I can’t prove it, but I think he’s the one that farted in the elevator.

Somehow, I got through my day. I did my work and opted to slog down six flights of stairs rather than risk running into the Giant Farting Pinko one more time. I signed out at the front desk and told Howie I was going to go home now and cry. He said it again, what he’d said before, and then, as I made my way back out into the quiet city, he lobbed this beaut over my shoulder:

“Pitchers and catchers report to Florida next week.”

Pitchers and—? You’re talking to me about baseball? What the hell do I care about baseball?

But what I said was, "Ha!" – maybe louder than was strictly necessary – and kept right on walking.

See, there’s been this talk all season about how the Patriots are the new Yankees. Now that the Yankees genuinely suck and everything, the sports world needed a new villain, and the Pats stepped up just in time. They kept on winning, and their attitude – which read to fans as Humble Pie – came across to non-fans as Arrogant Stew. Hell, even the Sports Guy at called them the Yankees all year, and he’s a fan. We didn’t mind. We were reveling in their success. Maybe people hated us, but we would take that in exchange for an undefeated season.

And then we didn't get it. They blew the big game. There must have been a bone in all that Humble Pie, and our boys choked on it. They were out-coached, out-hustled, out-smashmouthed and out-scored. And I couldn’t help but feel a little happy for the World Champion New York Giants. Here’s to you, boys. After all, if anybody knows how it feels when your team pulls off a stunning upset at the Superbowl, a Patriots fan knows.

In fact, I realized, my mood was so spectacularly dark exactly because it was touched with that little bit of glee. Call it sweetbitter, instead of bittersweet. I want to hate the Giants, but I really can’t. We were supposed to have been those guys – not the winners, I mean, but the underdogs.

As I walked down the sidewalk to the T, still all pissed off that the Buckethead had had the gall to talk to me about pitchers and catchers, I realized that the whole sweet-bitter thing was exactly why I didn’t care about spring training – not as much as a Bostonian’s supposed to care, at any rate. When our baseball team won the championship in 2004, that was something to write about. But last year? No flop-sweats in August, no Grady Little, no Bill Buckner, no Bucky F-ing Dent – just a long season of being ahead by dozens of games and stepping to the Series as the hands-down favorites to bring it home, which of course they did. What fun was that?

And then it hit me: The Patriots aren’t the new Yankees after all.

They’re the old Red Sox.

Ahhh… That’s more like it. Turns out this exquisite funk I’ve been wallowing in is just a well-loved pair of slippers that I thought I’d thrown away. They’re a little ratty, as they should be. But they still fit.

My brother-in-law called me last night to commiserate; we’d both been too upset to talk Sunday after the game. He told me that my Football Buddy – who happens to be his daughter – had insisted on wearing her Tom Brady shirt to preschool Monday morning. He wasn’t about to talk her out of it, but he wanted to make sure she knew what she was getting into.

“You know, Buddy, don’t you, that the Patriots lost the game last night?”

“That’s okay,” she said. “They’ll win tonight.”

And she wore her 4T #12 with pride.

That’s a old-school Sox fan in the making right there. Even if it is the Pats she’s rooting for.

Pitchers and catchers report when, you say?

P.S. I just realized: If you take what they were expected to do, and what they actually did, and kind of smush them up against each other -- what do you get?


I rest my case.

P.P.S. Damn Shaughnessy. Still no apology, but in today's Globe, this. Why did I buy it? Still, brother-in-law can confirm that I thought of my Red Sox line before Shaughnessy published his. And mine is better, too.


su said...

Football buddy rules the world. She knows it's a game and there will always be another. Go Sox

'phaz said...

What can I tell ya?

Chris said...

Football buddy wanted to play football when we got home, it was the best game of the year...
Here is confirmation, EGE said it first, Shaughnessy is a tool...