Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mike O’Malley – Keeping the Faith in the Red Sox

My friend, Mike O’Malley, now lives in LA, but he is a die-hard Red Sox fan. You may know him from his CBS series, “Yes, Dear.” Mike’s new series on NBC is “My Own Worst Enemy,” starring Christian Slater. The show had its debut Monday night at 10:00. Mike was not able to be in Boston for the Sox game, and was working, so he was not even able to monitor the game from LA. So, I fed him real time text message updates from my seat in Section 29.

After last night’s tough defeat at the hands of the up-start Tampa Bay Rays, Mike sent the following e-mail message:

It worked last year, so, here it goes again... A mid-week Sermon for the faithful

Just replace "Indians" with "Rays" whenever necessary.
But the sentiment is the same.

Wed Oct 17, 2007 3:43 pm EDT

A mid-week sermon for the faithful

Mike O'Malley, an actor, writer and fervent Boston Red Sox fan, is blogging about the Red Sox during their American League championship series match-up with the Cleveland Indians.

Ah, my fellow Sox fans, I can feel you beginning to drift away on this off-day.

I can feel you trying to disperse your disappointment in the last three games by trying to come up with positive repercussions of a potential Sox elimination on Thursday. You're telling yourself it will be good to have a free weekend without your life hanging on every pitch, a weekend where you can go to church Sunday morning and actually make a choice to not pay attention rather than allowing your baseball-induced narcolepsy to make it for you.

I can feel you retreating into your calendars. Into your long-avoided tasks on your to-do lists. Into and onto travel websites to make your Thanksgiving travel plans. Into your junk drawer, which you will clean while you avoid SportsCenter's multiple showings of another team's champagne celebration. I can feel your retreat into a dark place for Game 5 as you avoid like-minded people to sit by yourself, shrugging your shoulders and waiting to be put out of your misery. I understand the inclination.

So you bright-side the Red Sox losing by imagining having no games to frustrate you, no more late nights, no more muttering about managerial moves to your significant other/friend/dog/sibling/fellow drunk, no more shouting obscenities at your television when your suggested move ends up being ignored and bad things result!!

You can see in the not-too-distant future a life where you're not distracted by men playing a game you gave up long ago. I can feel you imagining a time when you will not avoid your kids, or get around to trying to have kids, or stop acting like a kid by crying when the Red Sox lose. I can see you planning an evening before the fireplace when you'll pop a bottle of wine and actually have a conversation with someone.

I share these dark thoughts. I have the same switch on the wall inside my head. It is a switch that, once flipped, sets into motion an engine of negativity. It has been revving since the Game 3 loss. And since the Game 4 loss, you've been retreating to your emotional work shed, jiffy-lubing your very own doom-and-gloom switch so you'll be able to flip it on at the first sign of trouble in Game 5, and with satisfaction, you will watch the rest of the game as if the Sox losing was a foregone conclusion.

You are familiar with this mechanism, because it has done such a bang-up job at alleviating your predicted disappointment in the past. It tells you that you are tired of placing a disproportionate amount of your happiness in the hands of men who swing a big piece of wood at a moving piece of stitched leather. You're fed up and bothered, bunched-up and spent. You feel ready to deflate your misguided hopes and settle in for some football.

I am here to tell you one thing. Fight that feeling. For at least another day. Stand firm. Tides change with one bobbled ball. Games are won and lost on one pitch all the time. That pitch in Game 5 has not been thrown yet.

Fight the feeling to say things like: "It's good for baseball that two smaller-market teams go to the World Series." Enough about what's good for baseball. Let television executives and the people from Stubhub and the folks who sell throwback jerseys worry about what's good for baseball. Being a real baseball fan is about one team winning. Yours. We root for one team because when things go well, we're the only ones who get to enjoy it.

I never believed in the Curse of the Bambino, in the hex sense. But I did believe in the power of an entire group of Red Sox fans collectively predicting and then willing the worst to happen. It was easy to behave that way. When things got close or tough, or it looked like victory was ours, the bad thing happened so often and in so many maddening manifestations that it became a national joke. But 2004 put that joke in the past, and with it, we should all have discarded the proclivity to bail before the boat has sunk.

Now, there's no doubt we're taking on water. And this is a different
team than 2004. But you, dear fan, have not gone on to root for another team. You were part of the past, the losing and the winning, and your thoughts of belief when Dave Roberts stole second were like the butterfly flapping its wings in Africa that started the hurricane in the Caribbean. Your belief when Roberts stole second were the butterflies that blew Bill Mueller's batted ball past Mariano Rivera's grasp moments later.

I'm no physicist, but it is possible that's true.

Because you, dear fan, matter. You have been there through the most depressing low and the most joyful high. Why not linger with good thoughts for a moment longer? You have it in you to root like hell for Beckett on Thursday. You have it in you to drum up the confidence when Papi is at the plate late in the game. You have it in you to direct some of that belief to the men on your Red Sox roster who need it most right now.

Be not distracted by those Indians fans who are reading this, gloating, laughing, doing their very own rooster strut as they troll the web looking for sad Sox fans while making travel plans for Colorado for the Fall Classic. We know the feeling. Gloating has been something we have written the book on. You can't blame them, they are good and they are devoted.

Summon your very own devotion to your very own Red Sox for one more day. Be not a wounded animal, alone in a corner willing your final breath to come sooner rather than later. Be a believer. Have we been beaten pretty good the last three games? No doubt. Are the Indians hard to hate? Not anymore. Start hating them and their towel-waving antics. Hate their drum, their logo, their unknown stars who will soon leave to play for the Mets or Yankees, and hate them good. Let the broadcasters and national media blush with praise and desire for these oh-so-very-likeable Indians.

Your job, friends, is to hate. Believe and hate. Heck, that's what our great country was built on! Do you not believe in the idea of America?

Belief and hate – two powerful things to get you through Game 5.

Well said, my friend. Keep the faith. Go Sox!

By the way, I watched “My Own Worst Enemy,” and loved the show. It runs opposite Monday Night Football, so it looks like I’ll be missing the first half of a few games this season! Check out the show next Monday at 10:00. I think you will enjoy it.


1 comment:

Mark Sohmer said...

Breaking news Red Sox Nation!

We have nothing to fear. It's been reported on the reliable SNN (Sohmer News Network) that Theo Epstein has enlisted the aid of super athlete Matt Cassel as a new starting pitcher for us. What could possibly go wrong???