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Life in Red Sox Nation

Life in Red Sox Nation

    Oh, there's joy in Mudville today, the mighty Red Sox did not strike out!

    If I were a less charitable soul, I would be crowing.  I predicted the reverse of the curse last April, and have some Email's to prove it.  But since I detest "I told you so's," I won't say it. 

    Up this way neighbors assume that I, a resident of Long Island for fifty years, must be crestfallen at the Yankees' demise.  They haven't won a World Series in four long years.  Grandson Henry holds a place in his heart for Derek Jeter and his teammates, but Robert and Poppy are (sniff, sniff) Mets fans.  Truth be told, I grew up in the Connecticut panhandle rooting for another New York team.  I cried every time the Brooklyn Dodgers lost to the New York Yankees, which was the usual turn of events.  Them Bums won in 1955, thanks to Johnny Podres' mastery of the changeup; but in 1956 I remember the excruciating agony of watching (on a TV in a hallway at Union Theological Seminary) Don Larson pitch his perfect game. 

    There's a rough justice abroad in this world.  Sure, bad things happen to good people.  The good die young.  If anything can go wrong, it will.  And all that.  But if you wait long enough, persist in your prayers, and never give up, things come around.  The Red Sox should post a portrait of Andy Warhol in their clubhouse, with a caption with his most famous quote, that everyone has his fifteen minutes of fame.  Now it's the self-styled "idiots" turn in the limelight.  George (and is there anyone who doesn't know which one?) will open his wallet this winter and find a way to right what he perceives as the wrongs to his team.  Rumor has it that D Lowe and Pedro are high on George's free agent pluck list. 

    Allow me, please, to wrench from this final gasp of the baseball season a few extraneous, if not entirely uninteresting, thoughts.

    Beginning with the wonderful distraction the Red Sox run has been to those of us preoccupied with more urgent issues, like the price of gasoline, the insurgency in Iraq, the mean spirit dividing the land in this political season, and the inevitable reminders of our mortality occasioned by reunions and obit pages: for hour after hour these past few weeks nothing else seemed to matter but how well or how badly young men could pitch, hit, and field a small white ball.  I haven't been so wonderfully distracted since my halcyon days on the hardwood court where every stress and anxiety vanished for the better part of a Monday morning.

    But there's also a theological message in the fulfillment of the hope of the Red Sox Nation. 

    This morning I listened to a couple of interviews with Sox fans who trace their loyalty to the generations before them, the parents and grandparents and great-grandparents who for eighty-six years dreamed the seemingly impossible dream of a World Series Championship. It made me think of Abraham of whom it is written that he hoped against hope to see the dawning of his promise that his children would be more numerous than the sands along the shore.  Abe went the way of all flesh long before his progeny multiplied; but in this hour three of the world's major faiths trace their lineage through him. 

    Or Moses (not Alou!) atop Mt. Nebo looking to the Promised Land which he never entered, though he kept the faith and dragged an unwilling tribe through the desert for forty years until they could enter milk and honey territory. 

    Or my mother: she made the hard ocean voyage to these shores in the hope of a better life, if for herself, then most surely for her child, braving life as a maid in a rooming house, foregoing school, and coping with a heart ailment, letting none of these impediments stand in the way of seeing her son through college and into the ordained ministry. 

    My predecessor in Valley Stream regularly exhorted the flock to "Carry on and keep the faith."  Faith, the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, "is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  So we do our best, make provision for the future, maybe even the distant future, for the children and grandchildren God sends our way.  If we live to see their promise fulfilled, then Hallelujah and praise the Lord.  If it turns out we must take our leave earlier, then we go as those who have the assurance of things hoped for... like thousands upon thousands of ancestors of the Red Sox nation.

    Barbara and I are thinking about moving to Evanston, Illinois.  Having achieved our goal of assisting the Boston boys of summer to their crowning achievement, perhaps it is out duty to do as much for that team whose frustration exceeds even that of the Red Sox, 96 years and seven failed attempts to win the World Series, the Chicago Cubs.  Only kidding.



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