I took Caroline to the Red Sox game at Oakland last night. She is so much more than a fan: the Red Sox are her church and attending a game is a sacramental experience. Me, I've always enjoyed baseball, and tend to give my loyalty to whomever is least likely to break my heart, but Caroline is a Red Sox Fan through and through: for better or worse, for richer or poorer, to love and to cherish until, I guess, finally parted by death. I do not understand such devotion, but I do enjoy watching it in action. Her good cheer about her Red Sox - win or lose - is delightful.
Anyway, it was a lot of fun to shop for something I knew she would love: tickets to see her beloved Red Sox. I got us tickets in section 116, row 32, just to the left-handed hitters side of homeplate. We spent roughly a zillion dollars on a couple of crappy hotdogs, a couple of drinks and the worst tub of popcorn I have ever eaten in my life.
Welcome to Oakland.
Josh Beckett pitched for the Sox, Barry Zito for the A's. The Sox roughed up Zito - he gave up five earned runs - but it was easy to see how he can be so dominating when his pitches are all working. Papi and Manny both homered, which delighted her. Beckett overcame a shaky start and was dominant for 5 innings. The Sox turned 3 DPs. Papelbon closed it out. In short, we got to see all the things she would want to see.
Banners around the stadium exhorted "Let's Keep the A's in Oakland!"; apparently Oakland is not doing a great job of supporting the A's. At several points in the game, the cheer "Let's Go Red Sox" rumbled through the ugly old barn that the A's call home. Not only were there nearly as many red Sox fans as A's fans at the game, the Red Sox fans were far more rowdy and loyal to their team. We stood and cheered the homers and the key defensive plays, talked smack with the A's fans around us, and took photos with fellow Sox fans after the game. They really do treat one another like "brothers" within the closely defined context of "Red Sox Nation".
I love the pace and rhythm of a baseball game, the ebb and flow, the phases of the game, (beginning, middle, end). It feels like life-writ-small.
I sat there thinking, "I need to attend more baseball games" and began plotting my purchase of Diamondbacks season tickets next year. I imagined myself becoming a real fan, knowing the players, the teams, and my fellow fans. I imagined myself charting pitches, keeping a box score, and just generally giving myself to the Diamondbacks, not because they would reward my loyalty by winning but because the rhythm of the game helps me to unwind. I also imagined how the pace of my life during baseball season would change as I made attendance at the games an integral part of my life.
I have no idea how much it will cost, but I like the dream.