The Red Sox clinched the A.L. East Sunday on a pop-up to first base.
Perfect. A pop-up to first, like some dream-world reflection or inversion of Yaz's fatal pop to third in the '78 playoff.
Completion of a pop-up cycle that had to end just this way. With Buckner positioned, inevitably, at the precise spot where the ball fell to earth.
With the Red Sox justifying the last 20 years of my life.
Baseball tends to do that to me--makes me dig for meaning in everything.
Makes me believe in the attainment of nirvana.
Once in a while, the expression of bliss can be problematic. Sunday, as the Red Sox clinched, I sat alone in my single at Currier House. I think I clapped, maybe.
I mean, how do you react to something you've been waiting for ever since you became a conscious being? You jump in the air, fists clenched, a la Bruce Hurst, or you pour champagne all over your pals.
Or else, you turn inwards and reflect on life. Life itself.
You see, years of my life are defined by baseball-induced emotional modulations. When I'm 92 years old the only thing I'll remember about 1981 is the frustration I felt about the baseball strike.
And looking back, I'll remember this summer as a time of near-perpetual happiness. I'll forget many of the individual games, but I'll remember innings here and home runs there and where I was when Roger Clemens struck out batter number 20.
I was talking on the telephone.
Several of my friends were at Fenway. But that's okay, `cause I was there in my heart.
Just like I was at Fenway, in sprit, throughout my family's vacation jaunt through Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island this August. WTIC-AM 1080 out of Hartford followed us across the Canadian Maritimes, thanks to some fluke of the airwaves.
That signal persevered from Halifax to Antigonish, around Cape Breton's Cabot Trail, even across the ferry to P.E.I.
Thus the voices of the Red Sox spoke to me as we drove back to our hotel one evening. "...nd Owen...ortstop," the radio blurted faintly, sensationally.
"Did you hear that?" my brother shouted. "Owen? Owen!"
"Not Spike Owen?" I shouted back.
"Spike...Owen," he echoed.
What a trade, what a team.
I'll never forget that moment of magic potential. In a flash I understood that it would be utterly impossible to fail with a double-play combination named Spike and Marty.
The concept of invincibility brings you awful close to heaven.
I'm still not sure whether I should jump around or scream or simply walk around beaming. But I know that I've just experienced a summer, defined by fragments and personalities, that will brighten my world forever.