I’m going to moving on and changing my blog focus, so this will be the only year for the Corridor. I’ve started The Sports Notebook, a series of four different blogs, and will expand to include baseball and pro football. The focus will shift away from being a fan, and into more objective commentary, but I’ve never believed objectivity meant denying your biases. In fact, I’ve believed it meant acknowledging them freely, so readers know where you’re coming from. The Bos-Wash Corridor will remain online as a testimony to one fan’s love of his teams.
I think back of two electric moments as a sports fan. One came in the summer of 2005. We had just returned from Ireland, where we buried my dad, and my mom, brother and I stopped over in Boston for two days on the way back. On a hot summer night, we went out to Fenway. The atmosphere was nothing short of incredible. I was prepared for it, but was still amazed. My family, used to the somewhat deadened atmosphere of Miller Park in Milwaukee, was taken aback by how much passion was poured into a regular season game, non-stop, right down to the enthusiastic singing of Sweet Caroline in the eighth inning. This on a night that was ridiculously humid and the Sox only got three hits off of Kevin Millwood in being shut out. It was a reminder of just how good Red Sox fans really are when we’re in our element—not imitating Yankee fans with a bunch of classless demands that we win the World Series every year or else—but simply loving Fenway Park, our team’s heritage and the greatest baseball tradition on earth.
The other moment came this past November, when I went to first Redskins home game, the one against Denver. I was wondering what the atmosphere would be like. During my high school and college years I knew RFK always rocked with enthusiasm, but after year after year of Snyder-induced depression, I wondered if that might not have taken its toll, the same way Peter Angelos eventually broke the back of Orioles fans here in Baltimore. Again I was amazed—the throngs of burgundy-and-gold tailgaters, as far as the eye could see, bubbling with real enthusiasm, even though no rational reason could be given, spoke volumes—this is a fan base that never quits. And just like with the Sox, I love being a part of it, even at 4-12.
My Redskins and Red Sox loyalties coalesced to create my all-time favorite sports memory in October 2004. My dad was sick at the time, and I was home in the Milwaukee area to visit him and catch up with friends while I was there. A good friend of mine, also a longtime ‘Skins fan, decided to drive down to Chicago to catch the Redskins-Bears game on Sunday. The previous Saturday night hadn’t gone well. The Red Sox had taken a 19-8 shellacking to the Yanks to fall behind three games to none in the ALCS. He picked me up early and I got into the car lamenting and moaning that it was over. He began to say, well hey, just calm down. Let’s say you win tonight, who goes tomorrow. “Pedro”, I replied.
“Pedro in Fenway makes you the favorite right there. So who goes Game 6?”
A light slowly dawned in my marble head, as I said “They’re not sure yet, but if he can go, they think it will be Schilling. Especially after the rainout the other night bought him an extra day.”
“Okay, so Schilling makes you the favorite there.”
“But what about Game 7, I countered. “We have no one left.”
He quickly reassured me. “At that point, the weight of the world’s going to be on their shoulders. Your focus as a fan tonight is simple—the Yanks either beat you tonight, or they have to do one of the following—beat Pedro, beat Schilling or win an all-the-pressure’s on them Game 7.”
I won’t say I was convinced a comeback was in the offing. In fact, I was sure the Yankees were going to batter Derek Lowe from pillar to post that night. I wasn’t even convinced the Red Sox would win the series if they got past Game 4. But I was convinced that we had a shot.
And so a great day was set in motion. We got into the Redskins-Bears game, and watched a football game that set the cause of offense back 100 years. In watching my DVDs of the Red Sox-Yankees games, I still laugh when I see the Fox broadcast of Game 4 and the NFL scores scroll through the bottom. And the highlight of the game is listed as Mark Brunnel passing for 95 yards. Yes, that was the highlight. But we won. And that’s all that matters.
On a beautiful afternoon, we drove back, got something to eat, caught a little bit of the Steelers-Cowboys late game, which Pittsburgh won, as well as the Cards-Astros in the NLCS. Finally we settled in back at my mom’s house to watch the ALCS. And as the game went into extra innings, and fatigue wore on us both, I still vividly recall thinking—“I don’t know what’s more ridiculous, the fact he conjured up this theory about the Red Sox rallying and winning it or the fact that I’ve actually bought into it. Indeed I had. What a day it was. The Redskins won. The Cowboys lost. A great day in the sunshine was had with a good friend. And the Red Sox began a comeback for the ages against the Yankees. It doesn’t get better than this.