By Greg O’Brien: Codfish Press
Buck up, Sox fans! Feeling nauseous today? Achy? Can’t stomach the whiff of a Fenway Frank—even after last night’s walk-off win?
That morning sickness you’re feeling, particularly if you are ten years beyond child bearing years or if you happen to be a guy, can be as fleeting as first place in the American League East. All it takes is a dose of faith, and a dash of what psychologists call “profound identification” with success.
Time to shed the fear of failure over the Yankee hex. Get some help. There’s plenty of room on the couch. We’re all here, they say, because we’re not all there. I checked in Thursday with a shrink friend of mine after sitting in Fenway Funeral Parlor Wednesday night with my son, Conor, watching Bronson Arroyo throw batting practice to the Blue Jays. My friend finally talked me off the ledge—the Mass Pike overpass that leads to the House That Ruth Broke.
“Why do Sox fans always expect to lose?”
He offered me some clinical balance for today’s start of the Red Sox-Yankee imbroglio. “Why do Sox fans always expect to lose?” I asked him. “It’s easier to anticipate a loss than a win,” counsels John Piekarski, a clinical psychologist from Sandwich, “and we have a cheerless history of losing to the Yankees. If you anticipate a loss, you are not caught by surprise and pain.
It’s like being on the Sagamore Bridge on the Cape and you’re afraid you’re going to fall off. So you throw yourself off the bridge; that way you don’t have to be afraid any more!” If you expect failure in life, he notes, your misery is more predictable. “The predictability of misery is always easier to stomach than anticipating something good,” says Piekarski, former president of the Sandwich Little League where he engaged in more shock therapy than his own practice. “So out of fear, you don’t anticipate success—the curse mentality.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.” And one that at times appears to affect the players, given the sullen pusses in the dugout Wednesday night. Have faith, Piekarski urges. Fenway is the Mother Church. If things don’t work out, there’s redemption next year. We’ll always be the “little brother” to New York, he says, but every once in a while the little brother whoops him. There is pleasure in some degree of pain. And it’s apparently safer.
Baseball angst might be good for fans’ health
The New York Times this week reported a Children’s Hospital study in Boston that indicated baseball angst “might be good for fans’ health.” Emergency room visits at six Boston hospitals fell off last year during the A.L.C.S and World Series. So just snap out of it, advises Boston public relations maven Charley Manning, who knows negative spin when he sees it.
“Enjoy the ride,” he says. “We have nothing to lose. I’m in the camp with Teddy Sarandis (WEEI Sports Radio). This is a mulligan year.” And besides, a conservative buddy—frustrated with the last week of the Sox season—told me the other day: “Hey, if we lose, we can always blame Bush!”
Postscript: The Red Sox are in first place after Friday's win over the Yankees . Since it basically amounted to a postseason game, the Red Sox had the perfect man on the mound in David Wells shown on right. Throughout his career, the big lefty has loved big games. And even at the age of 42, he still thrives on that stage. He did it again Friday night against the team he did it for so many times, pitching the Red Sox to a 5-3 victory over the Yankees.
The teams are now tied for first place in the American League East with just two games to go. Yes, this is what the Red Sox had in mind when they signed Wells as a free agent back in December.TO BE CONTINUED: Not bad for a bunch of idiots! Took a home field advantage away from the Yankees, sent them packing for LA where they will face tougher pitching than in Chicago. Second place never looked so good!