My son is about a month old. He is at the stage where he only sleeps comfortably when he is resting on someone else. My wife, who is amazing and has reservoirs of strength and patience I never knew existed, handles that as much as she can. The rest of his time is spent on my lap, watching baseball.
By watching I mean sleeping, if we're lucky. So, I can only imagine that somewhere in that tiny developing brain he is forming a deep appreciation for working the count, a well-timed backdoor breaking ball and the unwavering genius that is Koji Uehara.
When his eyes are open I see everything a new father could possibly imagine: Hope, imagination, determination, life. In these moments, I wonder what he will be when he gets older.
He will grow up with the Sox the way I did, which is to say that it will be unavoidable. It's what we do here, and you can no more separate baseball from Boston than you can the harbor or a backed up Green Line at rush hour. Everyone from the boys at the townie bar to the gray-haired Cantabrigians driving their Subarus is invested in the Sox.
Some people say that everything changed after 2004 and I suppose that it probably did to some degree. The mania subsided (for me at least) and 2007 was validation as much as unfettered joy. It's not that the Sox stopped being such an integral part of our lives, they just stopped being so interesting and things got bleak there for a while. The players didn't mesh. The 2011 collapse seemed inevitable. Bobby Valentine happened.
No sport is as casual as baseball. It doesn't demand your time and it's always there, ready for you to come back to it on your terms. The Sox snuck up on us this year, but when we fell for them we fell hard. Opinions vary, but I'll cite July 31 when they beat the Mariners in 15 innings and came back the next day and scored six in the ninth. That was the signal that it was time to shelve our natural cynicism and go along for the ride, wherever it took us.
The Sox won games they should have lost and always seemed to bounce back from tough defeats with a solid winning streak. The pitching held up, Papi reminded us that it was our fucking city and the new guys brought a nice bit of personality to the mix.
The beards get all the attention, but for me, this has been the year of Koji the Magnificent. A journeyman pitcher turned closing savant who saved the season by grabbing the role after a raft of injuries crushed the bullpen, Koji has spent the year being basically unhittable. He is the ultimate security blanket.
My son stayed on my lap through the first five innings on Thursday as the Sox built a 4-0 lead. We fed him and changed him and my wife went back to sleep. It was 4-2 at that point, soon to be 4-3, and we settled in for the turbulent final innings. Koji came on to get the last five outs and as he worked his magic, my son stirred in my arms. He opened his eyes, cried for a moment and as the last out was recorded he fell back into a deep sleep.
I want this season to go on forever.