Back in 1986 the Red Sox were playing the Mets in the world series. I was watching the game at a friends house with a bunch of other friends. It was the 9th inning of Game 6 and everyone at the party was all hypercited over the fact that the Red Sox were leading by 2 runs with two outs and two strikes. Like everyone else in the world, they were all cheering and high-fiving each other and basically congratulating themselves on a job well done.
Being a serious Anti-Red Sux fan, I wouldn't concede anything and refused to high-five along with the rest of them during what, I felt, even with a two run, two out, two strike lead. was still a pre-mature celebration. They still needed one strike I kept reminding them. These are the Red Sux! This game ain't over!
This seriously irked a few people. Friends mind you... who just couldn't handle my infamous pessimism. The rowdy insistance got to the point where, if I didn't exchange high-fives, it was obvious that I was going to get a serious beating instead. Especially if the Red Sox won. I would never live it down either. I would be wrong! And when it came to my conviction that. when it came down to it, the Red Sox would manage to find a way to fail. Despite my better judgement, I high-fived everyone there. Although I didn't exactly start cheering, I settled down with the last beer of the night to watch the end. I mean it was a possibility. Right?
I remember that Calvin Schiraldi was doing a great job, but when Carter got a single off him, McNamara sent in Bob Stanley. I questioned the move because I felt it was Schiraldi's game to lose. But again, I was shouted down and had my life threatened for questioning the genius of the move.
The next thing I remember is Stanley's famous "passed ball", a baseball term for a major screw up, that resulted in another guy getting on base. And then some guy stole second because Stanley was still dazed by previous events or some other distraction. Suddenly. the room was getting kind of quiet and the Red Sox fans...my friends... were getting pretty nervous. The way some of them started glaring at me, I began to get sort of scared myself. I could feel angry, accusing eyes on me.
Before anyone could even start to think about what trouble the Red Sux were suddenly in, Bill Buckner let that easy blooper slip through his ankles and the game was over. The Red Sox had choked away the ultimate dream. They seized every devoted, desperate and eternally dejected fans heart and ripped them to pieces in about two minutes time. Once again, the Bambino Cursed Red Sox snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do when it came to holding back my smile at the wonder of it all. The silent angst and despair was so heavy it felt like a weight on the fans hearts. I tried to mutter some reassuring words... "Hey, come on! It's not over! There's still game 7!" But I knew in my heart, as well as my brain, that the Red Sox were DOA at Fenway in Game 7.
Needless to say, no one took much comfort from my words. A few of the guys started getting VERY hostile and started swearing at me, like I had something to do with the loss! I managed to get out of the room before things got dangerous and went home, still preety astonished that my instincts proved right. I mean... it was the Red Sux. Even if they had won the game I still wouldn't have believed it until the next day. I would have expected the league to overturn such a great victory on some incredible technicality. When it came to losing, the Red Sox were legendary! Think, Buckey Dent.
For me personally, the worst feeling I had after the game was knowing the shame I experienced when I succumbed to the fear of death... and had high-fived people when I knew damn well the Red Sox were going to lose that series. I had tainted my cherished values and actually thought the Red Sox could win! Admittedly, it was only for a brief moment that I thought it was possible. But still, it was a betrayal of my personal belief system. I hated myself for a long time.
And ever since... every October... my hands itch and I envision blood flowing from the pores as I remember my sacriligous act. Rooting for the Red Sux. It's a case of Sports Stigmata. It's one for the record books. I lost my faith in the sports gods for a brief moment. My Sports Stigmata is my reminder that my faith was rewarded.
To this day, most of the world blames Bill Buckner for losing that game. But here, in Boston, there are a few guys that know better. They still look at me with an accusing countenance. As far as they're concerned, Bill Buckner didn't lose that game for the Red Sox... I did.