When that ball went through Buckner’s legs? I didn’t cry. I didn’t slam myself headlong into the wall. Didn’t threaten any hobos or burn down the local donut shop. Instead, I just sat quietly in a corner, like a 16 year old kid watching his date run off with all four Baldwin brothers.
Just moments earlier, I was King of Prussia and All Surrounding Territories, waving a towel like a fu–ing lunatic while Pete and Rich high-fived and played air guitar and did all the things we imagined we’d do if the Red Sox ever won the goddam World Series and here they were, just one strike away from winning the goddam World Series and it was really happening before our eyes.
Then it all fell apart, melted away like the spires of a snowflake, piece by agonizing piece, so that even before The Error happened, you could see it coming. Boiling to the top. An unstoppable freight-train of failure that was coming to drag us all back to reality. A reality in which the Red Sox never won. Never got the breaks. Never tasted ticker-tape and choice hookers and sweet champagne. It was a barrell of horsesh-t tossed on your birthday cake, the fat kid sitting on your sack lunch, the quarterback stuffing you in your locker, your dream girl telling you she really just wants to be friends, and your best friend leaving you and your ghetto Atari for the kid down the street with the sweet Colecovision hook-up. In an instant, it was gone. That feeling of raiseyourhandsandshoutyeah that you started to fear you’d never experience in your lifetime. F–k Game Seven. You knew it was over, just like Reggie Jackson knew it was over for the Angels when Dave Henderson took Donnie Moore over the wall. Suddenly, everything your dad told you was true. Some women are worth fighting for. The best thing you can teach yourself is how to change a spare tire. And the Red Sox are going to break your heart.
I took it hard, that Series. I was too young to remember 1975 or even 1978, for that matter. But this one… man, it hurt. It took days. Weeks. Months before I’d be over it. Until Dad talked me off the ledge. “They’ve gone home to their teenage wives and million-dollar mansions,” he said. “And you’re the one getting an ulcer.” And it made sense. Because Dad knew. Because there was more heartache to come. Quick playoff exits at the hands of Oakland. Clemens and Terry Cooney and the Ninja Turtles shoelaces. The drubbing that was the 1999 ALCS. The madness that was the 2003 ALCS.
But 2004 wiped it all away. Suddenly sunshine and banjos and Halle Berry and Anna Kournikova arguing over who’s gonna take me to the dance. Free beer and hamburgers for all. And the feeling that you’re not gonna have to go to bed shaking and angry and cursing the Gods.
I’m just glad Dad was around to see it.