I'm a different John, but my love of baseball is the same as the other John's. Allow me to introduce myself.
Please note the timestamp on this writing. I just stayed up until 2:35 AM Eastern to watch my beloved Red Sox lose in 12 innings out in Oakland. After four hours of buildup, it ended on a lame baltimore chop that scored the winning run. Silly me, I always thought you could win a game in which you get 10 consecutive innings of scoreless relief pitching. Instead, I got a flashback to Game 1 of the 2003 ALDS , which ended in almost the exact same way with almost the exact same score at almost the exact same time in the exact same place. Maybe Byung-Hyun Kim will flip me off in a couple of days to complete the experience.
I'm tired. My eyes are bloodshot. I'm going to be dragging myself around for the next two or three days because of this. There is absolutely nothing gratifying about this game, or how it turned out. But dammit, I'm a Red Sox fan. I don't buy membership cards to prove this; I stay up until all hours of the night watching games like this.
Now, I could go to bed right now and ask myself a few questions. They may include: why do you do this to yourself? Even if they won, would it really be worth the lost sleep? Do you realize how foolish it is to see these games to the finish just to claim some superficial fan superiority? You do realize that nobody cares, right?
I will not do any of that, however. Instead, I'll distract myself with a happier memory: that one time where neglecting my well being and the next day of my life paid off. The day was June 5, 2001. And the Sox just couldn't finish off the Tigers. I watched inning after inning after inning. This is back when the American League had a curfew; the game would've been suspended after the 18th inning. I'll always remember this game for three reasons:
1) Some kid in the roof boxes got whacked with a foul ball in extra innings, when it was well after midnight. The kid was maybe eight years old. Since I was the only person watching, Sean McDonough and Jerry Remy took the liberty of mocking this poor, injured child and his father for the rest of the inning. The Fox 25 cameras showed the kid between every pitch, with McDonough sobbing things like "I stayed all this time up past my bedtime, and this is what I get. My dad couldn't protect me." It was offensive, alarming, and hilarious all at once. When they were done having their fun, they sent an intern out to give the kid a baseball, since the one that hit him fell into the lower decks.
2) Then-rookie phenom Shea Hillenbrand sent me to sleep happy, whacking a walk-off solo shot into the Green Monster screen just minutes before the curfew would've kicked in. Red Sox 4, Tigers 3. I couldn't hoop and holler, as it would've awoken the sane members of the Cabral family. But man, was that awesome. After years of sitting through long games only to be let down, I finally got the payoff I wanted.
3) The next day, I fell asleep in Mrs. Gyra's class. For those of you who don't know her and/or me, you should know that Mrs. Gyra, my sophomore English teacher, is the best human being I've ever known. There is nobody on the planet I respect more. And yet, Rolando Arrojo and Rich Garces forced me to fall asleep in her class.
I'll always remember the confrontation. She came up to me and woke me up with a legitimate look of concern on her face. Are you feeling OK? Is there something wrong? Yes, Mrs. Gyra. I'm fine. It's just that the Red Sox went 18 innings last night and I had to stay up and watch the whole thing. I'm really sorry.
She almost understood.
I could've tried to establish baseball writing credibility in other ways. I could've told you that I broadcast Cape Cod Baseball League games, that I've interviewed an active MLB player, or that I've been watching Jason Varitek play for at least seven years before you knew who he was. But I think this is a better way of proving it.
It's 3 AM right now, and I'm only awake because of my Red Sox, who lost.