Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hope & Faith

Slowly and I do mean slowly I am starting to come out of the groggy, cloudy, comatose like state that the Patriots-Colts game left me in Sunday night. 24 and Prison Break got me through Monday and I’ve been able to stay away from ESPN and NESN to avoid seeing any more highlights (I might throw up if I see that Brady pick again).

The Baseball season is coming up but it’s still over a month away so the news has been slow. There is only so much you can say about what you hope Julio Lugo (JD Drew if he ever signs) and Dice-K will be able to do.

The fact that baseball is still pretty far out and I will probably be watching the Super Bowl for the commercials this year I have found it even harder to shake this sports funk I’m in right now.

I tried to give the Celtics another shot last night but blowing an 18 point lead against the Hawks didn’t exactly help to alleviate the constant nausea that currently plagues me. I know I said I am on the “root against the Celtics so they can get Durant/Oden” bus but it would be nice to see them win a winnable game here and there.

Side note: I actually wanted to watch the NHL All Star game but then I realized that it was on versus...that’s a network? Is there a death pool for tv stations cause if so I’m taking 2008 as the year versus goes down.

I want them to get the number one or two pick (two would almost be better because at number one there is so much pressure to take Oden) but 18 points to the Hawks, doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in the Kids.

Side note: 23 days until pitchers and catchers report

As I sat sullen and downtrodden at the bar at Dailey’s watching highlights of the Celtics getting worked in the forth quarter I turned to look at another TV and it was the Spurs-Rockets game…nice, I can’t even escape subtle hits from the Celtics, now I have to watch Tim Duncan, who could have been a Celtic.

Needless to say I spend the rest of the evening taking my rage out on my own body with Chinese chicken wings and nachos while playing the the buzz trivia game, by myself, hey I never said I was cool.

After heading home from Ski Night, I won a Corona bottle opener (YESSS), I spotted my copy of Bill Simmons’ book Now I Can Die in Peace and decided to thumb through it for a bit. What harm could it do I’ve already read through it twice and probably had been picking through it a third time, maybe it would bring back some good memories.

I opened the book and found I had a book mark at page 163, a story from 2001 titled ‘That Game’ which refers to game six of the 1986 World Series a.k.a. the worst level of losing. Not really a good sign for getting out of the jaded state I’m in. I wasn’t really feeling reading anything about the Red Sox heartbreaking loss in ’86. Granted I was only two years old then so thinking about the whole Buckner thing makes me cringe but for me and my generation of Sox fan game seven of the 2003 ALCS is our ‘That Game’.

Either way I wasn’t feeling that story. I thought about jumping ahead to the end of the book for the 2004 stuff and I thought about just closing the book and going to bed. In my indecision I started flipping pages and I came to the next story; ‘Silence of the Rams’ ok that settles that I’m going to read this and call it a night.

Surprisingly it actually helped. Reading what Simmons had to say about the Patriots first Super Bowl win helped me get some closure on their loss to the Colts this year. I’m still a little foggy and I still think the Patriots should be playing next weekend but rehashing those old memories reminded me how great it can feel to be a fan.

“I mean isn’t that what this is all about? Isn’t that the nagging fear? That all those moral victories over the years won’t pay off in the end-that one moment when everything comes together, when your team keeps winning, when you keep getting the breaks and you just can’t lose?” (Bill Simmons Now I Can Die in Peace)

At first I read that article because part of me wanted to live in the past, I wanted to remember what it was like to win it all. Sure, that might sound stupid after all I’ve never suited up for any football team, never mind the Patriots but when you pour your soul into a team and follow their every up and down it does feel great when they win.

The more I read I remembered all kinds of little trivial stuff from that night. Like the fact that when we all put a dollar in a cup with our predictions of the game outcome everyone but my buddy Joey’s mom had the Patriots winning (even though we knew they were 14-point underdogs and would more than likely get smoked). Or that things started to go downhill when certain people showed up.

We even went as far as not letting anyone move from their seats, a tradition we still hold strong to this day. Not to mention the fact that when I went to school the next day I couldn’t hold my pencil because my knuckles were swollen from literally knocking on wood…yeah I might have had a problem. Although I hold tv networks responsible for the knock on wood thing I mean is it necessary to show ever jinxing/damning stat/montage at crucial points in games (FOX I’m talking to you).

Side note: For the 2004 Red Sox I ate a dominos cheese pizza every time Pedro pitched and a bacon pizza every time Schilling pitched and ritualistically did the Manny 28-part high five with Bridgewater every time the Sox scored a run.

I remembered skipping school the day of the parade, riding crowed orange line trains into Haymarket then pouring out into the streets around Government Center. “Lets go Patriots” chants filled the air and everyone was sharing high fives and smiling. The Duck Boats rolled up with the Lombardi Trophy and everyone cheered. The players climbed down onto the streets and shook hands with fans. Troy Brown, Tom Brady, Ty Law they were all there and you felt like you were one of them.

It was an incredible feeling and after I finished reading the article I stopped to think about it all. I didn’t want to live in the past, no one should. We should all remember and appreciate the past but look to the future. Thinking about the 2001 Super Bowl, the Silence of the Rams, put the loss to the Colts in perspective for me, I still think it sucks, but it makes me appreciate the three Super Bowl wins. Seeing your team win is the ultimate for any sports fan, and we’ve been lucky enough to see the Patriots win three times and Sox win once in the last few years.

That sounds a little like living in the past, I’m not I swear. We as Patriots fans have seen something that doesn’t happen very often in sports. Our team was the underdog, they had no chance and they won. They’ve stayed on top and kept winning and they will be in the mix for years to come.

You always want your team to win the next one. That’s what a lot of players will say. “What’s your favorite Super Bowl win?” or “which one means the most to you?” and they’ll say “the next one”. But can anything really replace the feeling of that first one? I don’t think so, it feels great anytime you win but there is something special about that first time.

The Patriots losing to the Colts sucked. It was depressing and it made everything around you seem dreary like a gray, rainy day. Losing a game like that puts you in a funk. You forget why you watch sports, why you follow these teams, why you hold them so close to your heart. Then you remember the past, you don’t live there, you just visit. That’s when you remember how great it feels when it all pays off and you remember that being a fan is about two words.

Hope and Faith…that’s what it boils down to. The Patriots lost to the Colts and it was tough to swallow but as a fan I have faith in them and I hope that I’ll be able to crowd the streets of Boston in celebration again. Not just for the Patriots but for the Red Sox and for the Celtics and even the Bruins. Call it selfish, call it whatever you want to call it.

Hope and Faith…that’s what being a sports fan is all about.

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