Bread and Circus

An online journal of culture

Tag: sports

Baseball: Finding Misery in Other People’s Joy

by Editors



Finding Misery in Other People’s Joy

By Frank J. Colagiovanni

On Monday afternoon, the day after the Boston Red Sox won the American League Pennant, I was clicking through a few stories on the local newspaper web sites. I was at the game, had a great time and wanted to read about it in an effort to keep the good feelings going. In the Boston Herald, I came across a letter to the editor that I read, re-read, and then read a third time.

The writer, a woman from Brookline, Massachusetts, opens her missive to Red Sox fans-let’s be clear about that-with a statement so obtuse, so filled with arrogance and condescension that it actually took my Red Sox “buzz” known a notch.

She begins,

“Each October (barring the anomaly of 2004), as I see hubris and idol-worship shatter around me, I wonder: Will Sox fans put all that precious time and energy to better use, such as by working to help save our environment, improve our educational system, stem urban violence or stop global genocide?”

Reading this, I wonder — are these mutually exclusive? If I devote precious time and energy — and don’t forget money — to enjoying the Red Sox, do I do so at the exclusion of everything else? Does the time I spend at Fenway in October — or in July for that matter — negate the time I spend volunteering? Does the writer spend all her time devoted to the causes she listed?

And then she continues:

“Will they realize that big money rules every aspect of baseball? Will they (and especially, their kids) realize that second or third place still matters? That the “World” is actually the North American Series? That social workers, teachers, health care providers, community organizers and First Responders are the true heroes and heroines of society?”

And while the money involved with baseball is staggering, should that chase all enjoyment from it? If a ticket for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, or the Boston Ballet — all well endowed organizations to be sure — goes for a price the writer deems too high, does that change the sound of the music? Does that make it ruled by big money? The Kroc family donated $200 million of the McDonald’s restaurant fortune to National Public Radio; is NPR ruled by “big money?” Wang computers donated the money for the Wang Center. Bill and Melinda Gates have given millions upon millions to different organizations-and you can’t get much more “big money” then them.

The Boston Red Sox have, over the past 50 plus years, donated and facilitated the donation of millions to fight childhood cancer through the Jimmy Fund. I’d call that big money.

And the fact is, it is a World Series. The best players from around the globe come to the United States to play in the Major Leagues for the very reason that this is the summit of the sport. She might notice that David Ortiz, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima don’t have Hyde Park Boston accents. The guy with that accent is Manny Delcarmen, drafted by the Red Sox out of West Roxbury high school. The Red Sox, like most teams, are made up of the very best, no matter where they come from.

There’s nothing wrong with second or third place. Second and third still matter, but that doesn’t mean that striving for first is a bad thing. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you still need to try-just ask every Red Sox team from 1918 through 2004. Isn’t that a good lesson for kids and adults?

As for the notion that enjoying the Red Sox represents precious time and energy that should be put to better use, how much time? Is there an equation? Who gets to make that determination? How much time does she spend? I know for a fact that there in the stands over the past few nights there were there the everyday “heroes” the writer speaks of. In the first few seats of my row were a teacher, a pee-wee hockey referee, and a boy scout leader. A few sections over sat a Boston firefighter and former active duty Unites States Marine; he likely would have been joined by one of his childhood friends, but that guy had to go to work, as a police office in Roxbury.

These fans are all regular folks who give and have given their time and energy to do the very things she wonders about. Do those people who work to save our environment, improve our educational system, stem urban violence and stop global genocide deserve to enjoy themselves?

The arrogance it takes to deride people, good people, for finding enjoyment is a game speaks a lot more about the writer than about the people celebrating in the stands or cheering in front of their televisions.

Perhaps she should do a little less wondering and open her eyes to her own hubris.

Frank J. Colagiovanni is an award-winning freelance copywriter and contributing writer for Bread and Circus.

SPORTS: And that’s why the games are played

by Editors

And that’s why the games are played
by Frank Colagiovanni

When you look at the teams on paper, the conclusion is nearly certain. There’s no way that a Division 1-AA football team could knock off a perennial powerhouse. The powerhouse is too big, too strong, too talented. There is no way they could lose. But they don’t play the games on paper.

Appalachian State of the Southern football conference took everything Michigan could throw at them and, powered by a 21 point second quarter, bested the Wolverines 32-34-at home and in front of 107,501 die hard fans in stunned silence.

They never even should have been “in” the game.

That was almost the case this past weekend when my team, the Eagles of Boston College lined up opposite the University of Massachusetts Minutemen. The problem for BC was that when they lined up, they did so with an illegal formation–less than seven on the line-resulting in loss of yards, three times is the first quarter alone. UMass played like they had nothing to loose.

UMass never even should have been “in” the game. But they were, pulling within one score, a field goal during the first half, much to the delight of the visiting fans voicing their approval and quieting the homers.

BC pulled it out, but it easily could have gone the other way. On paper, it was a mismatch, just like Michigan/Appalachian State. But between the lines, between the whistles and between the tackles, none of that mattered.

They don’t play the games on paper.

And that’s the part of being a sports fan that I love the most, those moments when the impossible happens. The comeback, the no-hitter, the overtime goal — all those moments that are, in their essence, perfect. Those are the moments I hope for every time I file through the turnstile and take my seat.

Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes your team loses. And then sometimes everything falls together for a perfect moment.

I’ve had the opportunity to witness a few of them, to feel the current shift. The collective elation and relief when Dave Roberts slid into second ahead of Jeter’s tag in the 2004 ALCS. The seconds counted by everyone at Fenway after the ball left the bat of David Ortiz before it landed in the Red Sox bullpen.

As I tap this out, I’m four hours away from passing thought the Fenway turnstile for Game 1 of the American League Divisional Series, and I’ll be back at there again on Friday night for Game 2. In an hour or so I’ll start to get the nervous feeling. And at noon on Saturday I’ll be taking my seat on the goal line at Alumni Stadium for the Boston College-Bowling Green game. It’s a busy week, and I know the outcomes I’m hoping for — and if my lifetime as a Red Sox fan has taught me, will be praying for — but you just never know. That’s why I have to be there.

As of 2004, no team in the history of baseball had ever come back from a three game series deficit. And as of last week, there was no way that a Division 1-AA team was going to take down mighty Michigan.

And that’s why the games are played.

And that’s why I watch them.