The Joy of Sox

31 08 2011

Another Thing That Didn't Happen

Feeling shit when your team loses to hated rivals on home turf has been a familiar feeling for many years.

It’s part of the territory when you support Tottenham Hotspur, my beloved football team and a part of my life since 1976. Most of that time has been miserable; a rollercoaster of intense highs and crushing lows with occasional euphoria married to  misplaced optimism thrown into the mix.

But I thought that when I moved away from London N17, dislocated myself from the physical pain of attending games and became an overseas “armchair or convenient bar” supporter, the feeling of nausea that grows when you are defeated at home would fade into the background.

Distance would be my remedy to actually having to face supporters of Arsenal or Chelsea. Because I wasn’t really that interested in any American sports and so the possibility of actually caring about results would no longer be a worry.

Then I went to my first Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park and realized that I had managed to become attached to another team with the capacity to induce despair and joy in unequal measures.

Tickets for games at the oldest functioning ballpark in America are hard to come by but I attended four games last season. It was not a successful campaign, the Red Sox underachieved in a spectacular fashion and the only plus was that the New York Yankees didn’t win the World Series.

This year, I have been to five games so far and have at least one more regular season game to attend before we get into the fascinating nature of the play-offs, which are a standard add-on to every American sport.

Last night I went to my first Sox vs Yankees game. At Fenway Park, in front of a full house and with the Sox leading the Yankees by a total of 10-2 in games played this season. The Sox were top of the American League East and have been looking good in the last few games as the race to the post-season begins.

Anyone who knows me will realize that this is a prelude to a familiar feeling.

The Red Sox lost.

At home. To the Yankees. In a game that lasted just under four hours and with our seats just behind two Yankees fans who annoyed the crap out of me for at least six innings.

To be fair, the Sox didn’t play well and managed to fail to take the opportunities that were presented to them. The Yankees played OK and did enough to deserve to win.

Which are exactly how most games against Arsenal used to finish.

The difference here is that rival fans aren’t segregated; anybody can buy a ticket in any part of the ground irrespective of which team you support. Not a problem if you are at home to the LA Angels, slightly different in a series against the Evil Empire.

In some ways, it is probably a civilized way to watch sport. Opposing fans can banter with each other, discuss the events on the field without being herded away in a small corner of the ground and then get the chance to vent any emotion in the safety of a rigidly controlled arena instead of in the streets.

But to an Englishman, raised on being escorted to the away end by policemen and being surrounded only by other Spurs fans, it is an alien concept. It is really difficult to enjoy a game (even if your team are not playing well) when you know that there are opposing supporters within spitting distance.

Opposing supporters that don’t even bother to hide their colors as they cheer their team on, who stand up to applaud every moment that goes against your team. It gets a tad annoying and diminishes the enjoyment of watching professional athletes playing at the highest level of the game.

And you are also allowed to drink in the stands while watching the game – something that has been banned from English football grounds for many years. Which one assumes can be a problem in games that involve long periods of chanting “Yankees Suck”.

Which they do. Just not in a baseball sense.

It was obvious that it wasn’t going to be Boston’s night. The pitching was patchy and the batters failed to take advantage of loaded bases or even available runners.

The Yankees came to town and did a professional job. You wouldn’t expect anything less from a team that has been a force in Major League Baseball for so many years.

And as I walked out the ground, all I could think was “this feels just like losing to Arsenal.”

But without the personal history to justify the nauseous feeling in my stomach. That was all down to the second Fenway Frank of the evening and I can’t blame the Yankees for that.

Serves me right for deciding to care about a local team. When will I ever learn?

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One response

31 08 2011
Diane Danielson

I may have to introduce you to hockey and the saga that my life has been being a Washington Capitals fan … At least the Sox broke their lack of championship streak.

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