Baseball in October means everything.

It means wearing gloves to the games and finding warmth in a flask of Jameson’s and the communal vibe of the bleachers. It means pacing and punching walls and rubbing my temples and shouting at the television. It means hearing the inevitable cries of “Didya see the game?” whenever I walk into my office building [Of course I saw the game, muthafugga. What, would I watch all year and suddenly lose interest during these critical, life-affirming tournaments?] It means wearing the Schilling jersey Tuesday afternoon, because you have to rep your set. It means calling my father after every inning to compare notes. It means showing up at my parents’ place for at least one of the games, and turning their TV around so that it faces into the larger dining room area and setting up chairs so that we can pack in like buffoons and live and die on every pitch. It means high-fiving strangers in the street and seeing Red Sox T-shirt vendors on every corner and letting out that gutteral wail when the last out is recorded and the boys get one game closer. It means entire evenings in front of the TV, because after the Sox we’ve got to see the Yanks, not to mention Roger pitching in yet another playoff series. It means intensified intensity; the culmination of a citywide love affair that typically begins right after Thanksgiving, when the hot stove is lit and all thoughts are on green grass and Florida skies. It means viewing the Buckner clip again and again and again. It means drink after drink and the torment of losses and I’ll-never-let-those-pricks-do-it-to-me-again-I’ve-had-it-this-time-I’m-gone-and-I’m-not-coming-back but you know you will, so you sigh, take your medicine, and start planning for opening day. It means knowing and accepting that it can end at any time, that any given game can be the season finale, the last time you’ll see Manny swat a home run or Cabrera do that goofy li’l jig or Schilling bark at the mound. It means Peter Gammons on the field at Fenway Park, ESPN trucks cluttering up Yawkey Way, and seemingly endless talk of curses. It means knowing that the heart you’ve opened up and given away so willingly is going to be speared, torn into two throbbing pieces and left on the frozen ground. It means the umpire is blind, the “fan” reaching for the in-play ball is SPED, and the commentators are an unsavory, anti-Boston bunch, deserving of the bad vibes I’m zapping them with through the cathode ray tube. It means losing focus in meetings, letting your relationships slide, leaving that big project for another day. It means lying in bed but never quite finding sleep, your stomach knotting as it replays a particularly horrific inning or contemplates the next day’s match-up. It means that the Red Sox will either win the World Series or leave us crying in the middle of the road. And we can’t wait.

Because we live for this.

::steps down from podium, removes tie, swigs from beer::

Okay, now that I got that out of my system, I just want to say that when the Red Sox win the World Series and I’m driving down Commonwealth Ave with my balls swinging out the window and a stack of freshly-minted Gs in the glovebox, I will be looking to buy a beer for each and every one of our loyal readers. Sure, this will probably amount to five beers, but it’s the only way we can say how much we’ve enjoyed living and dying with all of you, one game at a time. It is time for the big pants, my friends. Big, big pants. And I’m drunk with the possibilities of this 2004 post-season. Drunk I say, and I shake my fist for emphasis.

::shakes fist::

See that? Business!