Unlike me, my daughter only knows the Boston Red Sox to be a powerhouse. Just 11, she's always seen them as contenders, winners. Last night was no different: after letting her stay up far too late over the weekend to see the draining games -- the kind of baseball that reassures us that the right two teams made it into the fall classic -- she went to bed last night before the first pitch. Incredibly, ridiculously superstitious, I knew I wouldn't be able to send her to bed if they were up in the 6th or 7th, fearing that any small change would alter destiny.
But as we headed into the bottom of the ninth, Chris Sale walking out onto the field, my husband texted me from upstairs: "Should I get her up?" From Maryland, and anything but a baseball fan, his text heartened me. He knew what this meant. "Yes," I wrote back, and then waited for the sounds of footsteps on the stairs. We watched together as Manny Machado stepped up to the plate.
"It would be extra good if it was on his watch," my daughter said. She knew how I felt about Machado.
And then it happened. The final strike, the final out. Champions, again.
I stayed up alone to watch the celebrations, sending my daughter to bed to contemplate which of her beloved Red Sox shirts she would wear to her New York school tomorrow. Her math teacher would give her grief for whichever one she chose, but even he admired her spirit and devotion.
And I thought about my dad, about the last World Series he saw, and how when he left us all to watch without him, they were champions a few times over. He loved pitchers -- would've been thrilled for David Price -- and taught me everything I know about spotting a slider from a breaking ball, all while sitting on a couch. And he loved journeymen players, guys like Steve Pearce, someone who has played for every AL franchise and wound up in Boston at just the right time with something big to contribute.
I have managed, as friends told me I would, to figure out how to move ahead without my dad. But postseason baseball makes me miss him more than just about anything else.
You would've liked this one, Miltie. You really would've liked it.