Armed with a healthy measure of Beantown-inspired nostalgia, my remote, and clearly, some good fortune, I surfed my way onto HBO just as Fever Pitch was starting.
The opening bars of “Dirty Water” accessorized the shots of Copley Square, the Charles River, the Citgo sign, and – of course – Fenway Park that flickered across the screen, and my homesick heart was content at last. “Well I love that dirty water… Boston you’re my home!”
For the most part, I’m not too concerned with athletics. Athletes, sure. Athletics themselves, not so much. I follow BC basketball and football, and I like March Madness and the Super Bowl just like anyone else (that might have more to do with the pools and the parties, but that’s neither here nor there). But baseball never fails to amaze me with its singular faculty for putting innocent victims (er, fans) to sleep with monotonous displays of athletic lethargy.
Maybe I can hold my gender accountable for my apathy. Dave Barry – who you may be familiar with as my hero – said it best: “If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there is a man on base.” I am perhaps just that callous a woman.
So how did a movie about a borderline-deranged Red Sox fan soothe my homesick soul? Anyone who’s been even a transient resident of Beantown can attest to the vital role these hometown heroes play in local culture. When people think of Boston, they don’t envision the Tea Party, Duck Tour boats, Quincy Market, or the rickety T hurtling down Comm Ave – all of these landmarks are eclipsed by the colossal shadow of the Green Monster.
Boston = Red Sox, that’s the only equation we were ever taught in 10th grade Algebra. History courses devoted countless class periods to the analysis of Fenway Park lore (the Curse of the Bambino got its own semester). “Socks” was marked wrong on spelling tests, and physics teachers made it perfectly clear that the world would inevitably self-destruct if the Red Sox did not restore balance to the universe by winning the World Series.
I may not care for the sport itself, but I do enjoy partaking in all the accompanying fanfare associated with athletic events. There’s a name for people like me: fair-weather fans. I think even that’s a stretch; I’m more like a fair-weather observer. But when the going gets good (like it did two years ago), I get giddy. I’ll normally only watch televised baseball if I have a nail file on hand to keep me occupied through all the unflattering close-up shots and convoluted narrations of ennui-inducing stats – but nailbiters like the surreal Sox comeback against those damn Yankees are riveting enough to make even me toss the file aside (and require a manicure ASAP).
And I’ll be honest – I love going to games. The excitement running rampant through the stands can transform even the most dispassionate sports-hater into a zealous devotee for an ephemeral moment. I get swept up in the fervor, but have no idea what I’m cheering about. I’ve been caught screeching “Yankees Suck!!!” on several dozen occasions at Fenway – even if we were playing Kansas City. The mark of a genuine Red Sox fan, after all, is hating the Yankees through thick and thin. Which entails the use of decible-defying volumes to notify fellow passengers on the T of the Yankees’ impressive sucking abilities… in January. Or declaring your loyalties at the top of your lungs at a Celtics game. In the shower? Yankees suck there, too. Or at Sunday mass: Of course Jesus hates the Yankees; they’re Satan.
I trekked up to the Bronx a few weeks ago and watched the Yankees annihilate the Orioles, and briefly contemplated how much fun it would have been to wear a Red Sox jersey and rally the audience in a rousing chorus of “Yankees Suck!” But of course, I didn’t. I may miss Boston, but I’d probably miss breathing more.