Uncharted territory for Red Sox fans 

Sunday, November 11, 2007

(Published in Haaretz, October 31, 2007)

American immigrants to Israel carry two passports. Some, like me, have a third nationality: Red Sox Nation. Until 2004, it was a beleaguered nation, deprived of a World Series championship since 1918, while recording a string of heartbreaking denouements along the way (Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner, Aaron Boone, ouch…).

However, after capturing the 2007 World Series crown this week, Red Sox Nation is being touted as a superpower, a dynastic regime. This poses a bit of a problem for me. If I had wanted to root for an empire, albeit an evil one, I would have been a Yankee fan. Part of the peculiar charm and character-building experience of being a member of Red Sox Nation has been to weather the slings and arrows of outrageous, or even accursed, fortune.

Perhaps it is too soon to look back nostalgically at the foibles of a team that is now indisputably the best team in baseball. Perhaps the Red Sox will find a way to falter next year. But membership in Red Sox Nation today somehow seems too easy, too painless and too fashionable.

Unfortunately, our other lives, as Israelis, provide a full share of difficulties and pain. Indeed, baseball is a welcome diversion from the anxieties of Israeli life. It also enables American immigrants in Israel to share an experience with friends and family they left behind. (It can get on your nerves, however, when your sister in Boston starts complaining about being sleep-deprived when the games go past midnight in the U.S., while you are getting up at 2 AM in Israel each night to watch the games.)

Much has been written about baseball as a link between the generations. This might be particularly true of Red Sox families, who lived under the "Curse of the Bambino" for a span of 86 years. My son, for example, despite growing up in Israel, had imbibed enough Red Sox heritage to understand the poignancy of the moment (and surprise me with a cigar) when Foulke flipped the ball to first to clinch the title in 2004. If the Red Sox had been perennial champions, perhaps his experience of baseball (and life) would have been less profound?

This year, as the Red Sox won the title, my son is serving in an IDF combat unit and we could only share the victory via SMS messages. "Your son is in a combat unit and you are worrying about a baseball game?" you might ask. Yeah, it is silly. But I can't wait for Spring – and if the Red Sox win again next year, I guess I'll learn to live with it.

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