I’ve quit the Red Sox a couple of times. Being a fan, at least the way I do it, requires a substantial time commitment and emotional investment. After the 2003 season, I reexamined my priorities, and the Red Sox didn’t make the cut. But I was weak. Within a few games of the new season, they pulled me back in. It worked out wonderfully, however, because in 2004 the Red Sox went on to win the World Series for the first time since 1918. Interestingly, I quit the Red Sox one more time after the disastrous 2012 season. But again, I was weak, and I couldn't stay away once spring arrived.
In 2013, the Red Sox went on to post the best regular-season record in baseball. On October 5, Kim and I attended a first round playoff game at Fenway Park against the Tampa Bay Rays. I wrote about it here. Long story short - Big Papi hit two home runs, and we had an incredible time. The Red Sox defeated the Rays in four games, advancing to the American League Championship Series. At that point the Red Sox started selling tickets for potential World Series games at Fenway Park, even though they hadn’t yet qualified. They began the process so early because of logistics, not overconfidence.
Kim broached the subject first. “Should we look into getting some World Series tickets?”
“All I can do is try. Which game would we want to go to?” I asked.
And this is where the magic happened.
We knew that if the Red Sox made it to the World Series they would be hosting the first two games on October 23 and 24. They would then travel to the National League park for games on October 26, 27, and possibly 28. If necessary, they would return to Boston for games on October 30 and 31.
Kim said, “I don’t want to see just any World Series game. Let’s try for game 6 or game 7. That way we at least have the chance - I know it would be a long shot - of seeing a clinching Red Sox victory. How cool would that be?”
"It wouldn't suck," I responded. My strategy in life is to downplay expectations, so that I am rarely disappointed. I agreed to give the ticket office a call the next day.
When I dialed the special Red Sox disabled ticket number, I spoke to an agent almost immediately. He asked me which game I wanted to go to. I blurted out, “Game 6!” Done deal. We had two World Series tickets for the October 30 game coming in the mail. If the Red Sox didn’t make it to the World Series, or there was no game 6, they would issue a refund.
In order for us to be sitting in the stands and watching a Red Sox World Series victory on October 30, an improbable sequence of events would have to play out. First, the Red Sox would need to defeat the Tigers in the American League Championship Series. We followed each of those games intently, often late into the evenings. We were thrilled when the Red Sox closed out Detroit in six games. Step one was complete.
Next, we needed both the Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals (their opponent in the World Series) to win some and lose some early on, so that the series lasted at least six games. A dominant performance by either team, winning 4 games to 0 or 4 games to 1, would mean no game 6 at Fenway. The Red Sox won game 1 easily, by a score of 8 to 1. The Cardinals won games 2 and 3 by scores of 4 to 2 and 5 to 4. We became worried. In order for there to be a game 6, the Red Sox would need to win at least one of the two remaining games in St. Louis. They did, winning game 4 by the score of 4 to 2. Thus, we were assured of attending a World Series game. This felt good, but it became very important to us that the Red Sox win game 5, so that we couldn’t be subjected to watching the Cardinals win the World Series in front of our very eyes.
The Red Sox did go on to win game 5 in St. Louis by the score of 3 to 1. Not only would we be attending the game, but we might witness a World Series championship for the Red Sox in game 6.
Click here for part 2..
Note: It may seem like this blog has turned into the New England Sports Journal, but I assure you after this series of posts I’ll avoid the topic of New England sports for a while. I promise!