native son

Baseball is an honorable sport. There are no cheerleaders, the uniforms are not sexy. The men don't gloat when they hit a home run, no prancing around in an end zone. They have honor, these men of baseball. It's a game that fathers teach their sons, that grandfathers share with their grandkids, not just the current, but that one time when.... The Buckners and the DiMaggios. The good and the bad. It's the spirit that moves men. Yes, it's become overly commercialized, stylized, branded. But that doesn't take away from the true pull of the game.

My own man of honor is a lifelong member of Red Sox Nation. We fell in love during baseball season, we had a baby during baseball season. J's love of the Sox is contagious, so I've fallen for them too. I know some of you know what I mean.

I remember 2003 when the Sox blew the playoffs. It was crushing. Heartwrenching. Awful. I remember at the time thinking it was better they lost; this curse is so important to the fans, the lore so critical. The Curse. If it went away it all might be lost. There could be no more whining. What would all of Boston do?

The Sox play the A's every year and we are at almost every game. We've driven to LA to see them play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (speaking of bad branding) too. I do this because it's fun, and because J's love is infectious. He loves this team. He knows this team. It's intimate and important, the beauty of baseball. It's part of his fabric.

We happened to be in Boston during the summer of 2004. I was 8 months pregnant at Fenway Park. We were sitting next to a guy who said this fucking team, they break your heart, they lift you up and then smash you to the ground. This fucking team. It was a defining moment, a universal truth. I knew exactly what he meant.

J is from Southie but you'd never know it. His mom and brother are the stereotypes, the language and attitudes, the wicked pissahs, the r's when there shouldn't be and never when they should. You'd never know J was from southie if it wasn't for the Sox.

M was born in September of 2004. Her birth coincided with the A's/Sox series; tickets that were bought after we knew my due date. He missed two games but caught the third. The Sox won the World Series that year, and we have it on video, J crying, the phone ringing off the hook, him holding up our tiny baby girl and telling her that his dream just came true. A lifetime of agony reconciled, batter up, run in, game over.

It's baseball season again; so once again I get to decide who is cute (Varitek) and who is a smuck (it's always Manny), I get to watch J throw himself headlong into his joy and relive his youth. If there is ever a time there is a smattering of southie in him, it's when he's yelling at the Sox, his wayward family who doesn't always live up to their potential.