The "boys of summer" have taken the field. The umpires have cried "play ball." Our lives are no longer confined to grown men banging heads on the football field or men running around in their underwear playing basketball. The stars are now accurately aligned. Baseball is back.|
Because I am a native southern New Englander, I am a die-hard Red Sox fan. Have been for more than 60 years. We didn't win anything for 85 years, but now enjoy three World Series Championships in the last 10 years, including one this past year. The world is now in its proper order.
Our biggest rival has always been the team from New York. We hate each other. When I was teaching at St. Ambrose, and we went through our first day introductions, I would inform my students that they could wear apparel with any logo -- Cubs, Cards, Twins, Bears, Bulls, anyone -- except the team from New York. If they wore such a logo they would automatically fail the course.
Fortunately, only one student in 23 years defied this edict. Unfortunately, he was a good student and earned an "A". I still never liked him.
You can tell a lot about a person by the team they root for. My good friend Herb has been a Cubs fan for almost 70 years. Very sad. In all those years the Cubs have never -- never -- won a World Series. At one time they had four future Hall of Famers on the same team and never even went to the World Series. Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Fergie Jenkins, all future entrants to Cooperstown, and never a World Series. That, my friend, is futility.
Poor Herb, and other Cubs fans, suffer from what I refer to as "situational ineptness." All aspects of their lives appear to be normal, expect their misguided loyalty to a team that perpetually breaks their hearts. Very sad.
They say there is a strong rivalry between the Cubs and Cardinals. Not true. For a rivalry to exist both teams have to be playing for something important. The Cardinals are usually playing to contend for a championship. The Cubs, sadly, are playing for nothing.
A true rivalry is one like the Red Sox and the team from New York. They are usually both playing with a championship at stake. I love my friend Herb, but his chronic loyalty to the Cubs is a lost cause.
My friends Mike and Frank are Cardinal fans. Cardinal fans are a very interesting lot. They root for a team built by the largest beer dynasty in the world (Budweiser), yet they are the most sober and reserved fans I have ever met. Even when the Cardinals are lousy, these guys tell us how good they play. This really irks me, and it sends Herb up the wall.
When fans in Boston, New York, or Chicago are at a game and one of their own players strikes out or makes an error at a critical time, the fans make endearing comments like, "Hey Jackson, you ain't nuttin' but a bum," or "Hey Coogin, you have a lot of nerve picking up your paycheck, ya ham-and-egger."
Not so with Cardinal fans. When one of their own makes an egregious mistake they gently pat their hands together and say something like, "Oh, don't worry young man, you'll do better the next time." Good grief. These are the kind of fans who put ketchup on their hog dogs!
This past Monday was Patriots Day in Boston. They run the Boston Marathon every year on Patriots Day. It is the day that people in Boston set aside to express their pride in being Americans. This year's race marked the one year anniversary of what took place at the finish line at the end of last year's marathon.
Baseball seemed very unimportant that afternoon.
The people hurt and killed were on the minds and in the hearts of all Americans. It was baseball, however, that helped display the resolve and courage of our people. All over the country, and particularly in Boston, people gathered at our ballparks to pay tribute and to honor our fallen citizens. David Ortiz (Big Papi) -- my favorite Red Sox -- even uttered an expletive to describe how our cities and our country belong to us and not to a bunch of terrorist thugs.
Boston Strong also means USA Strong for all of us.
Indeed, there are many things going on in the world that are much more important than baseball. We hear and see stories of tragedy, war and oppression every day. Yet, for me, baseball serves as a great respite that allows me, if only for a short while, to escape worldly problems.
It is very refreshing to begin my day with a cup of coffee and my morning newspaper. I turn my attention to the sports page and look for the ball scores from the previous night's games. This information can often affect my mood for the rest of the day. Did the Red Sox win, and just as importantly, did the team from New York lose?
Boston Strong. America Strong. Forever.
Paul Mulcahey is a former public official and teacher.
Orion, IL Details
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