He looked so serious, so believing, that it was almost scary.
“You know,” he said, “they are going to do it.” We haven’t seen each other in weeks, but I knew exactly what he meant.
Placing a comforting hand on his shoulder, I tried to help. “Jed,” I said, “come on now. We’re adults. We’ve been here before. It’s all right to dream and hope, but you can’t ignore reality.” He actually thought the Red Sox were going to postseason play!
There are actions one undertakes at times like this to avoid insanity, and I offered suggestions.
“Jed,” said this Sox fan, “go for a swan boat ride in the commons. Go to the top of the Pru and relax your thoughts. Walk around the Back Bay and have a latte and a bagel (light on the cream cheese, you have enough problems). At such times of stress such as this, the options seem so few, so inappropriate to calm the nerves.”
He was having none of it. “They’re going to win the thing,” he said. “They are.” Note the complete mental breakdown.
He didn’t even know what they were going to win, just “this thing.” He wouldn’t even laugh when he said it. Sad. Very sad. I tried history.
“Jed, reflect on all these years. Get ahold, man. It’s the big tease. The Sox don’t win anything. They just need to make sure they sell out again next year. You’ve been there, done that. Bragg, Pozo, Tinsley, Gunderson. Come on, snap out of it.”
A glassy sheen covered his eyes. None of this was working. He had watched too many Canseco swings, one too many Wakefield floating knucklers.
Rod Serling must have loved the end of these “almost there, wait ’til next year” Red Sox years. They are the ultimate Twilight Zone. Poor Jed. Trapped on the New York Thruway, wanting to head back to Boston believing, unwilling to acknowledge what he has seen at Yankee Stadium. It’s the pits.
Not only does he have to contend with his Sox, but here are the Yankees in the lead, with Boggs at third no less. There is a God, his name is Ruth, and we’re not talking first names here.
Since history hadn’t worked, how about the future. “Listen, pal,” I enjoined, “it’s fall. Soon the leaves will turn gold, the apples can be picked, you can take the family leaf-peeping and drink fresh cider. And, you won’t have to worry about the Sox. They’ll be out there shaking the trees, too. You’ll be free in a week.”
He ignored me. Now it gets ugly.
Another friend sees Jed the next day and calls me. “Hey,” he says, “just saw Jed and he told me you tried to tell him the Sox can’t win.” Now this guy’s laughing. He, too, has seen the glaze in Jed’s eyes. So, he says to me, “call Jed and really give it to him. Point out the Yankee and Baltimore leads. Tell him how hot Seattle is. This is great.”
This guy is a Stephen King nightmare. I tell him his suggestions are cruel. He agrees and asks me when I’ll call Jed. He wants to know so he can call right after and ask Jed how things are going.
How does one end up in this loop? Who are these guys? The Yankees cancel the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader. ESPN calls me in Philadelphia while broadcasting the Mets and says we want you to do the Sox-Yankees game Monday night.
Arriving at the hotel in New York Sunday night, my phone is ringing before I can unpack the dirty laundry. It’s Jed. He found me. “They’re not dead yet,” he says. Arrrgh.