A Convert in the Temple

The blog below was written by Dr. Martin E. Cobern, a longtime friend of Dr. Stan, the Stats Man. Despite the fact that we support warring factions in the baseball wars, our friendship has lasted for over 40 years. When he is not blogging, Dr. Cobern is Vice-President, Research at APS Technology, Inc. in Wallingford, CT. I know you will enjoy reading about his experience of actually being at the clinching sixth fame of the 2013 World Series.

Last Wednesday, through the good graces of a friend, I was able to witness a once in a century event. (OK, since this is a stats blog, a once in 98 years event!) From my Pavilion Box seat behind third base, I saw the Red Sox win a World Series at home! My perspective, however, was a bit different from that of most of the fans at Fenway. I am a recent convert to Red Sox Nation.

I grew up in the Bronx as a Brooklyn Dodger fan, floundered for years after the Great Betrayal, and then found a new team – The Mets. I kept my loyalty to the Amazings even as we moved to many other cities around the world.  I taught it to my daughters, neither of whom had ever lived in the city. When they each chose Tufts for college, they joined the Boston world. At their urging I became a Red Sox fan about a decade ago, while still maintaining a lingering loyalty to the Mets. I did, however, throw out my VHS tapes of the 1986 World Series.

I thus saw the game as a fan whose vision was not distorted by decades of suffering, and that made the experience even more special. Arriving at Fenway is not like going to any other park. The Stadium is part of the neighborhood. Apart from the security check, it is hard to distinguish whether you are in the park or out as you walk down Yawkey Way.

We parked across the street from the right field gate, Standing there was the “bull pen cop” from the Detroit series, enjoying his fifteen minutes. We waited our turn to take our picture with him. The stadium has the air of a neighborhood block party, with booths and vendors in the “street.” It is world apart from the sterile concrete corridors of Citi Field.

The season ticket holders who filled much of Section 12 greeted us like long lost cousins. We soon joined in the many rituals, including singing each player’s signature song. There was a sense of inevitability that filled the air. Whether it was the Dropkick Murphys doing the National Anthem and “Shipping Up to Boston,” complete with young step dancers, or Luis Tiant and Carleton Fiske throwing out the first balls, there was a feeling of calm assurance in the stands. When a few shaky innings by Lackey and the infield led to nothing for the Cardinals, we were just waiting for the explosion, and we didn’t need to wait long.

The Cards had obviously decided that Papi was not going to beat them and walked him four times, but he scored twice. After the three run third, we started the fourth with a special cheer for the slumping shortstop, “Drew is due!,” and he responded with a lead-off home run. With three more runs in the bag, it was time to relax. We began our chant for the Bird fans a few sections over. As their amazing starting pitcher crumbled, we sang “Wacha, Wacha” without stop. It was all in good fun, without the nastiness seen in other parks. (You know who you are!)

The postgame celebration continued in the same vein, with the players’ kids roaming the outfield and step dancers mingling with dignitaries. The TV announcer even got Papi to repeat his famous war cry. It was a marvelous experience, and well worth going to work on Thursday after three hours’ sleep.

Copyright 2013  Martin, E. Cobern, November 7, 2013

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