Thursday, October 06, 2005

Here We Are Again

So things are gloomy in Red Sox Nation this morning. It was a bad loss last night, that errored-away a 4-0 lead and put us one game closer to the end of the Sox season. What with the fumbling and our quiet offense, Chicago took the first two games in the series rather handily. That means, of course, that the Sox have to win two in a row to stay alive. Not that it hasn't been done before--we won FOUR in a row to beat the Yankees last year after all--but that was the first time it had ever been done in baseball. I have tickets to tomorrow's game, which may or may not be the last one of the season. If they lose, it's all over. Swept by the White Sox. Ugggh.

I have to admit I love do-or-die games though. There is something so invigorating about hanging off a cliff with your fingernails, rather than being the guy looking down from above and cackling. In action movies, the hero is always the guy hanging off the edge, and the villain is lording it over him, savoring his evil dominance, and usually banging on the hero's clutching fingers with a blunt object. This is a staple. One of the most famous fingers-at-the-edge-of-the-cliff scenes in recent movie history appeared to end very badly, but actually bumped the hero up a level in the end, from a gray wizard to a white wizard. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to take a scifi/fantasy crash course right now. Yes, now.) What fun would it be if you were on solid ground the whole time, only to find yourself abruptly hurtling down the cliffside at the very end, as is the route of all cackling villains? (Ask the Yankees.) No, a little desperation is a good thing. Give me my underdogs every time.

There's nothing wrong, on paper, with having all the advantages in life from the beginning. It seems like it would be quite a picnic to be born enormously wealthy or already-famous (Scout, Rumer, Apple), to have connections in all the right places and every type of leg-up as you grow up. On the other hand, it would really suck. Who wants to be known as "the boss's kid" at the company, or have it whispered that you weren't all that bright after all, just well-connected. Being born into a lot of money makes it imperative that you somehow make even more. And if you are not fabulous and successful in every way, you have failed to reach your potential. (If the Yankees don't win the World Series every year, everyone in the organization is disgusted.) That is the dilemma of the Jude Law character from Gattaca that I finally watched last night (good movie--scifi meets film noir). Genetically programmed to be an ideal specimen, he feels compelled to end his life because he "only" received a silver medal in swimming. High expectations much?

These crippling expectations are something the defending World Series champs have been trying to shake off all season. They lost the freewheeling scrappiness of the underdogs the minute they won the championship, and they miss it. Last season they were loose, relaxed, playful, and eager. Nothing to lose! Everything to gain. This year they came into it as "the best," and you can see the strain. This isn't to say being World Series champs is a downer. It's been fantastic. But the topdog job comes with a lot of pressure, and it is a dynamic that the Red Sox have shaken free of only now, with quite possibly one game left in their season. Let's hope the reversal came in time.


At 5:47 PM, Blogger charles.bukowski.costanza said...

dear balboa -

of course you love the underdog, of course. i have often wondered, this season, if you don't rather miss the pent-up irrational optimism knuckle-whitening anger thing that the underdog gets to do.

on a personal note, i have found that perceiving/selling myself as the underdog is beneficial, as it serves to a) agreeably lower the expectations of others and b) let me extract a nuanced sense of success from even the most obvious defeat. (eg, i turned in grad school apps this week, which i had worked hard on. i did not get accepted -- all i have done at this point is Apply, but when i went out that night and treated myself to black label instead of the usual old crow, i had several friends who wanted to hug me and buy me drinks and say how Proud the were that i had applied, and i was like, Yes: At last all of this meandering my way through life is starting to show its benefits.)

go sox.

At 5:52 PM, Blogger charles.bukowski.costanza said...

hey since i've gone and appropriated your space for my own self-aggrandizing purposes: i had heather write me a rec letter and so sent her my sample when it was finished. she wrote back with some unsurprisingly dead-on critiques and comments, but i love that she said, "I've just finished reading Dear Fat Kid, and I've got to tell you that I'm interested. This is a most unusual response from me."

i love her so much.

At 5:52 PM, Blogger charles.bukowski.costanza said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:27 PM, Blogger charles.bukowski.costanza said...

dear sully -

i'm so sorry for your loss. love; mark.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger scs said...

Thanks, Huntsman. I've been busy drowning my sorrows all weekend. Too busy, in fact, to post an appropriately weepy epitaph to our season on this blog. But I appreciate the condolences, I really do.


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