But they never blame me. They never punish me. And recently, more often than not, they come up bigger than my wildest dreams.
Saturday, sitting and watching with the Maternal Entity, we were both in that mindset. By the 7th inning, too much potential had been squandered, and it seemed like a fait accompli when the Phillies tied it up. And yet, arguing with our worse natures, was that little voice, born of 4 chilly October nights. "We're still in this. They can do it."
And even more than last year, that's true. Because we have the pitching complement to the clutchest hitter of all time. The Second Bearer of the Vegetable Mojo. (Which still resides a little bit with its former bearer, and no one is happier than me.)
It's like Jon-Boy has a secret identity that he puts on when he goes to the mound. Because the gulf between the boy lounging in the bullpen and the man glaring towards the hitter is miles, miles wide. "Don't make me bring out the Scrabble board...Don't MAKE me bring it out, man." It's adorable. It's endearing. And it's gone, ten feet on to the field.
There are several marks of a great pitcher, I think. He has shown many of them. And he showed yet another one in the tenth inning: he is man enough to clean up his own messes. He faltered, and yet caught that second wind.
And then there's the man of the 3rd, 4th and 5th winds. It's useless any more to ask, how many times can you go to that well. Because the answer is "David Ortiz". It is "How many damn times that he says he can."
I forget that sometimes. But he always reminds me. When my faith in my team is shaken by mere mortals like Rudy Seanez, his spirit catches me up and bears me onward.
It's so hard. Especially during games like today. Observing through the impersonal windows of the Internet and Gameday, it was like there was two games. The pitchers' duel from innings 1-6: the class that is Tim Wakefield, suffering through offensive futility, and than a shallow end of the bullpen (NAMED RUDY SEANEZ) which can't seem to find outs with a ten foot pole.
And then there was the second game, truly begun by an act which, this season, would be enough to shake the faith of any in the nation. The brief dimming of the All Powerful Vegetable Mojo, and Jon-Boy's first true blown-save. As befits it, in grand and shattering fashion off the Pesky Pole. Game tied.
I was about to leave work, to catch my bus. I thought, whatever happened, it would be over quickly.
But I was wrong. Oh was I glad to be wrong. On the bus, my mother and I made a absurd little portrait: me holding up my AM radio as far as I could, straining to hear and get whatever reception I could, her, head leaned over toward mine as I relayed balls, strikes, outs.
Manuelito came up so incredibly big, walking Abreu, but setting down Howard, Rowand, and Burrell in order. Yet, it couldn't last; the youth showed through, and though Craig Hansen tried his level best to pick his teammate up, we entered the bottom of the 12th, down 7-6.
The bus reached our stop; I nearly forgot my umbrella, I was so wrapped up in the game. Again, we thought it might be over quickly. But then Coco hits a ground rule double. Two blocks, two outs go by. As we come in view of our tiny little house, the strained tones of the Philly announcers came through my earphones: Youkilis slaps a double into center field. Game tied, again. We cross the street, fumbling for the keys: Mark works a walk, bringing you know who up to bat.
Finally, we reach the comfort of our porch, our couch, and the TV. And there he is. What was probably about 2 minutes seems like 30 seconds. Condrey sets; the pitch. And the ball goes up, up, up, and then down.....down......oh god let it fall......and my doubt is swallowed in the emanation of joy, both from my small family, and my bigger one, in Fenway and around the world. Jon Boy flying-tackle-hugs Papi, joined by Craig Hansen, joined by everybody.
I am an unworthy creature. But Big Papi doesn't care. He loves his closer. He loves his team. He loves his fans. He loves the game.
I love this game. This game can bring so much joy. I forget it at times.
But to quote Aaron Sorkin, "When I forget, something always reminds me."