I spent most of the ninth inning last night in child's pose. James wondered when I'd become a muslim. I was reducing Jon Lester-related anxiety at the time -- not actually praying -- but then I figured I might as well while I was down there. I wasn’t alone, either. The entire crowd at Fenway rose up and the camera zoomed in on many fans with hands literally clasped in prayer for a no-hitter. A few weeks ago, I interviewed Michael Borer, an author and sociologist whose book "Faithful To Fenway" was published last month. He writes about the Red Sox as a religion with Fenway Park as the church. How Red Sox fandom is a unique form of worship and devotion, unlike any other in sports. It's alway been this way for New Englanders but since 2004, it's reached a fever pitch: The fairy tale endings, the dramatic come-from-behind wins, the term "walk-off" homerun entering the vernacular, etc. And then there are the heartwarming cinderella stories. Last season, we prayed for rookie Clay Buchholz who went on to pitch a no-hitter in his second major league game. Then, just when you couldn't up the emotional ante any further, enter Jon Lester. The babyfaced 24-year-old who battled back from cancer to win the deciding game in the World Series. Now this! Let's sing some hymns.
But still, Borer explained, our lingering angst is likely an enternal flame. Regardless of the overwhelming sense of things turning around, we’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop --so we pray. As everyone knows, Lester triumphed last night and our collective heart stopped racing. But if it caused so much anxiety for fans, I can only imagine what it must’ve felt like for him. A friend was recently talking about the element of loneliness in any kind of accomplishment. That element could not have been any more apparent last night with Lester. James pointed out how none of his teammates would talk to Lester or even glance in his general direction in the dug out. Even on the mound, with everyone at the park chanting his name, he was – as the forever quotable Cliff Poncier once said -- “a self-contained unit, a solo arstist.” Having the presence of mind to finish the game and not, say, collapse into child’s pose on the mound was a accomplishment in and of it self. As long as we don't get too used to it.
In smaller Sox miracles, we headed to the game with P and Maria last Friday night. Pre-game, we jammed into Eastern Standard seeking shelter from the awesome windswept rain until learning the game was postponed until the following evening. So we decided to go have dinner at Cambridge 1 (crazy delicious pizza pie) and then head back to P and Maria’s to watch the Celtics. We hailed a cab, but within a few seconds, P somehow realized that our four Sox tickets had fallen out of his pocket during the slow jog to the cab. We pulled over and he ran back through the throngs to see if he could find them. "Say a prayer to St. Anthony," he said, invoking the patron saint of lost things. He was half-kidding but the rest of us remained skeptical that he'd find them -- especially on a rainy windy night amid a major exodus from Fenway. But he did. They were lined up -- all in a row -- in the middle of Boylston Street. Well, three out of four of them, the fourth likely carried off on the tire of a passing car. Not miraculous, per se, but considering the elements -- pretty wild.