Best Wedding Ever?

Added to my list of things I’d never before done at a wedding:

  • Have my picture taken with Wally, the Green Monster

Added to my list of things I’d never before done at Fenway Park:

  • Dance the hora

An open bar, ridiculous food, the happy couple on the scorecard, and watching a Red Sox/Yankees game on about 10 screens in the State Street Pavilion? Not bad. Only think that would have made it better would have been if the Sox mounted another ninth inning comeback.

Congratulations, Melisa and Sean.

Best Wedding Ever?

Happy Anniversary!

It’s hard to believe we’ve been married for two years, not because it means we’ve been together a long time, but because I can’t believe 2004 was two whole years ago. Damn.

Still, every anniversary is a milestone. Marrying Rachel two years ago was (if I may wax earnest for a maximum of one paragraph) the best thing I’ve ever done, and marking it is fit and proper. Two years is, of course, just a drop in the bucket compared both to how long we’ve actually been a couple (nine years!) and how long we plan to be married.

Last year we decided that we’d establish a tradition of not giving each other gifts for each anniversary. We get each other enough presents throughout the year. Instead we thought we’d go in together on a treat: a trip, something new for the house, something like that. For our first anniversary (paper!) we got a hotel in Boston and tickets to two Red Sox games. This year was cotton.

Cotton sucks as a gift theme. I was not buying my wife a Happy Anniversary t-shirt in preshrunk cotton. We decided to ditch our tradition (of one year) and just go out for a very nice dinner. And then, we thought, wouldn’t it be more frugal and (perhaps) more fun to make a very nice dinner? Yes, yes it would.

The plan was a meal in three courses: a salad as an antipasti, a primi, and a main course. I conceived of all three independently, so I’m not sure how well they held together as a cohesive unit, but I think it was pretty successful.

First, the salad!

“Deconstructed” salad of tomato gelée, red onion, and cucumber with lemon vinaigrette

The salad was “deconstructed” in the sense that I didn’t mix all the bits together. I guess you could also call it “untossed” or, possibly, “lazy.” We eat cucumber and tomato salads all summer long; I got the idea for the tomato gelée from our favorite restaurant, Gracie’s. At the end of last summer, I took all of the tomatoes we had lying around, chopped them and suspended them in a coffee filter in a strainer over a bowl and let it sit overnight. The resulting tomato water ended up in a container in the back of the freezer until now. I heated it to a simmer, stirred in a packet of gelatine, et voila! Tomato jello. Deliciously tomato-y, and texturally surprising.

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Once I’d thought of the gelée, the idea of doing everything in cubes just seemed to make sense.

The vinaigrette was equal parts lemon juice and rice wine vinegar, and then olive oil and dried tarragon. A chiffonade of basil and a pinch of lemon zest finished it off. Light, unconventional, and yummy. Next!

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Homemade basil pesto and goat cheese ravioli in roasted pepper and tomato sauce

Making pasta just looks fun, doesn’t it? And since Rachel has pretty much an unlimited capacity to eat pasta, it seemed like it would be foolish not to serve some.

Making the pasta dough took, I confess, two tries, and even on the second batch it was a bit too sticky to the extent that I couldn’t roll it as thin as I’d have liked. The resulting ravioli was a bit chewy, but still delicious.

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The filling was just pesto (basil, pine nuts, parmigiano, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil) mixed with goat cheese. The whole ravioli assembly process was fraught with peril, but I was glad to have done it, and I plan to try again at the next opportunity. They apparently freeze really well.

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The sauce was a straight food processor job: roasted red peppers, roasted tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper. I just simmered it to warm it before spooning it onto plates and piling on the ravioli. Shaved parmigiano seemed the thing to do, and I, uh, had some basil and lemon zest left over.

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Pan-seared duck breast with red wine and fig reduction, gingered carrots, and kale

Well, obviously the duck is the main event here. The carrots are basically Alton Brown’s recipe for carrots poached in ginger beer, but I was making that before I ever saw the carrots episode of Good Eats, so nyeah.

Duck has long been my nemesis. I love it in restaurants but it always ends up over- or under-done when I make it. I once, to my enduring shame, served dramatically overcooked (as in gray) duck breasts to Rachel’s ex-boss, a man of exceeding taste. This time, I’m pleased to say, it worked.

Flavor-wise, nothing too fancy, just a couple hours marinating in red wine, salt, and pepper. The cooking was a revelation for me. I patted the skin very dry, slashed it, laid it skin side down in a non-stick skillet, and cooked it over very low heat until most of the fat rendered out. (The fat was poured out to cook the kale in.) Then it was just a matter of peeking every minute or so to see if the skin looked brown enough, one flip to give it a minute or two on the other side, and done. I gave it a minute under the broiler just before serving to crisp the skin. Perfection.

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The sauce was really simple, too. Chopped dried black mission figs in a cup of red wine, simmered for a good long while. Not long enough, since the sauce was a bit runnier than I planned, but it was damned tasty.

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Oh, dessert! Rachel made the flourless chocolate cake from the Williams-Sonoma dessert cookbook. It was chocolate-covered chocolate, and it was delicious.

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Anyway. The meal was delicious, the wine was spectacular, and Rachel is the best person in the whole world, and I’m the one married to her, so—again—nyeah.

Happy Anniversary!

A few things…

Seems like I may be the lone voice of this place. Hopefully people will start writing again. Anyway, here are just a few things from lately.

This weekend, JR and I went to DC to see JT and NP and take in a Sox-Orioles game. Camden Yards is a really beautiful stadium and the fans are the most affable second place fans around. There were loads of kids and also TONS of Sox fans. Every few batters, a “Let’s Go, RED SOX” chant would start up pretty fervently and the Oriole fans would boo lustily. It got to a point where anytime the Orioles did something good (they won 4-1), this drunk guy a few rows down would stand up and point to all the Boston fans. It kind of made me feel sad, because this guy shouldn’t have anything to prove in his home ballpark. He was outnumbered in his own section and that can’t be a good feeling a few miles from his bed.

We flew on Independence Air and that was OK, except our plane coming home Sunday night was delayed over an hour which was a major bummer. While waiting, we heard an announcement that the customers flying to Syracuse should use the rest room now because the toilet on the airplane was broken. While we were preparing for take off, the pilot said something along the lines of “Sorry the flight was delayed, the plane we were supposed to take had some maintenance issues, and luckily for us this one was available. I was thinking to myself, “It’s not lucky for us, it’s lucky for you and the rest of the “Fly I” staff. I’m glad you’re not making me fly on a broken airplane, but really, the ticket I bought was for an on time flight on a well maintained airplane.” The same type of thing happened this afternoon while on the phone with Staple’s customer service. I had ordered file cabinets for work and the sales rep had said they’d match all the locks for me so they had just one key. She said if the locks for the cabinets didn’t end up matching when we got them, I could call Jill and get them ordered free of charge. Wouldn’t you know it, the 7 cabinets came with only 1 pair of matching locks and when I called Jill to get the new locks, she said there would be a $14.99 charge for each lock. I told her what the sales rep had told me and she said Staples would pay for half. At the end of the call she said, “I’m sorry for the error, sorry for the misunderstanding.” I almost said, “There was no misunderstanding at all, I understood perfectly what your sales rep said.” Oh well, maybe next time.

2 political conspiracy theories:
-The editor of Time released Matthew Cooper’s notes because of politics, not ethics? Maybe? I don’t know anything about him and if political reputation means anything, wouldn’t the NYT have released their notes sooner?
-The evangelical right came out opposed to AG Alberto to make him seem more appealing to the Democrats. By declaring that they would oppose even him, Democrats may think of him more fondly. Already I’ve seen several places that opine Alberto may be the least of all evils when it comes to potential nominees.

This weekend I’m going to JR’s family reunion in CLEVELAND. I’ll post again shortly if I make it through!

A few things…

Thoughts

I don’t seem to be able to finish writing anything I start these days so I thought I’d post a collection of some links I caught myself sending to other people over the past couple days.

This is from RD’s sister’s man’s blog and talks about a new device that helps you wake up better. It’s a watch-like contraption you wear to sleep and, by measuring your biometrics, the watch keeps track of your sleep cycles. This allows it to predict the best time to wake you up in the morning, usually while you’re sleeping lightest.

Bill Simmons has done it again and it’s only a matter of time before people accuse me of making him my binky. After this weekend’s donnybrook between the Red Sox and Devil Rays, ESPN reprinted this 2002 column about basebrawls. In this long column, Simmons goes into detail describing 12 reasons baseball fights are so great. Reason #9 is especially poignant in lieu of Trot Nixon’s actions this weekend, though Simmons disputes the existence of a “Crazy Guy” in this weekend’s imbroglio. I guess it’s his column so I’ll defer to him.

Imagine being able to search for files on your computer by the location you worked on them last. I know, my mind was boggled too. GPS enabled laptops are coming, and I can’t wait…

Another reason to love kottke.org this morning is the McSweeney’s RSS feed he created for the good of all mankind. If you haven’t read any of the lists at McSweeney before, you might be interested to in Actual Ways I Have Been Flirted With That, in the Future, I Wish You Would Refrain From, With Explanations as to Why, and Suggestions for Alternative Methods. and Reasons to Fear Canada..

I’d like to find out from Mel Kiper, Jr if the point of the NFL draft is to choose attractive, athletic players of if the point is to win Super Bowls. Because Kiper seems to want athletes, not champions. I can’t think of any other reason he would give the Patriots a C in this draft when they drafted 4 players that can presumably help immediately and ALSO picked up a 3rd, 4th, and 5th round pick in next year’s draft. Also, Mr. Kiper, who cares if “Matt Cassel is a big project at quarterback”, did the Patriots make an underreported draft day trade of Tom Brady for Jay Fiedler? In the same column (and although he gave the Broncos a C as well), Kiper describes the Broncos selection for Maurice Clarrett by saying he’ll “defer to coach Mike Shanahan when it comes to fitting the right players into his system”. This is obviously a reference to Shanahan’s ability to take ANY athlete and turn them into a 1200 yard running back. If Shanahan is getting that type of leeway, shouldn’t Belichick’s THREE SUPER BOWLS IN FOUR YEARS give him the same type of draft capital?
Kiper’s Patriots’ draft rating for those of you without access to ESPN Insider.
New England Patriots: C
Guard Logan Mankins was a reach in the first round but the Patriots obviously like his size and nastiness, and he will help fill the void left by Joe Andruzzi’s departure via free agency. Ellis Hobbs has good size but not enough skill to be more than a nickel back, and safety James Sanders was a teammate of Mankins at Fresno State and both were helped by the relationship between Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Fresno State coach Pat Hill. Tackle Nick Kaczur could play guard as well but came off the board a little early and Matt Cassel is a big project at quarterback.

3 other happenings of note in the last week:
I’m definitely not the most pious of Jews, but I do my best to observe Passover every year. This time around, however, the boys at Streits, threw me for a loop on my very first meal. Apparently, they sell matzah these days that’s “Not for Passover Use.” How many seemingly observant Jews have been ambushed thusly?

While walking to work the other day, bird poop splattered on the pavement mere inches from my feet. It was almost like almost getting hit by a car. Almost. You have to admit, something like that is pretty omenesque. My outlook on the morning changed and then I got to work and realized nothing was going to be different, so although I was glad to not to get hit by bird poop, I didn’t look at it as an omen anymore.

The parking lot at the train station employs the use of an honor box to charge for parking. I’m constantly forgetting to look at what parking space I’m in before I walk away from my car. In the middle of last week, this happened and I walked back to figure out for which space I had to pay. A combination of tiredness, being late for the train, and general brain dysfunction forced me to determine the wrong space for my car. (Admittedly, I didn’t walk all the way back to my car, but stopped at the beginning of the row and counted down to my spot, incorrectly). When that happens, I pay for the wrong space and come back in the evening to find an envelope on my car asking for the parking fee plus $1 service charge. I deserve it. This day was different, though, because on my way to the honor box after figuring out which space I was in, the woman who had parked next to me was also walking back to figure out her space. I smiled widely and exclaimed “You forgot also, right? I do that all the time. You’re in 723.” Random act of kindness? I feel bad about it, but she probably got an envelope, too. Oh well, it’s all in the thought, I hope.

Thoughts

I Still Don’t Like the NBA…

…But I don’t mind reading about it when Bill Simmons is doing the writing. I agree with most of what he says most of the time and he has anywhere from one to three references per column that I wish I had written down before him because they’re mostly perfect. Plus, like Peter Gammons and Sean McAdam, he’s a Boston homer and about 75% of his columns are about Boston teams. When it comes to reading about basketball, I may as well be reading about the Celtics, right?

(This might be another column, but you know how the Righties incessantly complain about the “liberal” mainstream media without providing facts to support their claim? I think if I lived in another part of the country, I might complain about the so-called national sports media’s Northeast/ Boston slant. I’m not going to do it, but a scientific survey of ESPN.com would probably prove a higher percentage of stories are written about the Red Sox-Yankees-Patriots than any other 5-8 teams combined. In acknowledging this bias, I feel like the millionaires who sit up in their castles pointing out world problems without taking any steps to correct them. It’s so easy to do. But the view is great up here and I enjoy feeling like a millionaire sitting in my castle. Since I benefit from the bias, I’m not going to make a stink).

The most recent reason I owe Bill Simmons is his column last week was responsible for pointing me towards Paul Shirley’s blog. I’m not sure it can actually can be considered a blog, since it was written over 5 days and I don’t think there was any plan for it to be updated infinitely. I don’t really know what the definition of a blog is, though, so call it whatever you want. Paul Shirley is a 27 year-old forward who fills the “Suns’ need for a warm body to keep the bench from tipping toward the coaches.” He doesn’t play much, and didn’t actually play at all on the 5 game/ 8 day road trip in mid-March. He did, however keep a journal of his thoughts during the trip and the result is great. Bill Simmons said something like it fulfills the wish we all have of having a friend in the NBA and getting daily emails from him. (Personally, if I had a friend doing anything and sending me a daily email about it, I’d probably change my email address, but being able to go to his website to read at my own leisure would certainly keep our friendship intact.) Anyway, Paul Shirley probably doesn’t have much of a grand future in the NBA, but judging by his writing, he’ll probably end up OK whenever he blows out a knee or decides to hang it up for other reasons. Since I don’t think any of the people reading this will actually click through to Paul’s blog, I’ve grabbed a couple of the choicest quotations for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

-Paul reviews the beach in Spain

“The greatest thing about living near the water is that there is always something to do. Bored? Go to the beach. Can’t figure out what to do at the end of a first date? Go to the beach. Got a few knock-off sunglasses that need sold? Go to the beach. The only problem with my time in Spain was that the beach in Barcelona set the bar a bit high—because of the rampant toplessness.”

-Paul on tattoos

“Tom Gugliotta has the worst tattoo in the NBA. The barbed wire on the bicep is bad enough to put him in the running; the fact that it is the dreaded “I thought I could get away with not having it complete the circumference of my arm” type puts him over the top. It is like wearing a tie that is not only ugly, but is a clip-on to boot. Ugly is at least forgivable; the clip-on aspect makes it reprehensible.”

-Paul on the possibility of playing

“I began considering the possibility that there could very well be a bit of playing time in the offing and started paying at least cursory attention to what was going on in timeouts, in case Coach D’Antoni said something like, “From now on tonight, everyone will be shooting with his left hand. Deviation from this plan of attack will result in castration immediately following the game.” I would really hate to miss one of those instructions, come out firing, and because of my own mental lapse, ruin the rest of my life.”

-Paul on being tired even after not playing

“When the game was over, I was fatigued, much like usual. It is difficult to explain, but it is exhausting to, over a two and a half hour period, keep oneself vaguely mentally prepared, yet relaxed enough to theoretically play basketball. Now, don’t get me wrong—it is not nearly as taxing as, say, playing 38 minutes and huffing and puffing up and down the court. There is, however, a little more to it than would first appear. Of course, as my dad would say, it still beats the hell out of digging ditches, so I won’t complain.”

-Paul on meeting Magic Johnson in an exercise room

“We all wandered over and chatted with Mr. Johnson. He was gracious, kind, and charming, just like everyone says. I did notice that, when I introduced myself, he did not tell me his name. I, of course, know his name—the above paragraph would have been difficult to write without that knowledge. I do not know, however, what I am supposed to call him now. Magic? Seems a bit odd. Earvin? Seems a bit forced. It will be a dilemma that haunts me.”

-Paul on the Atlanta Hawks

“Saying the Hawks are a bad basketball team is like saying that living in Beirut would be exciting—true, but not really the whole story. The Hawks are really, really bad.”

I Still Don’t Like the NBA…

Look Out Below

I’m broken. As I write this, I currently can’t lift my arms above my shoulders. I can’t really turn my head more than 90 degrees. My knees are so bruised my pants hurt. Crossing my legs makes my hips ache, and don’t even get me started on my back and ankles.

Yesterday, I went snowboarding. I don’t know why you’re so surprised. Given my crippling fears of both heights and going very fast down a mountain, snowboarding seems like the perfect activity for me.

Admittedly, I was a little apprehensive at first. The idea of dangling from a thin steel cable hundreds of feet in the air above a snow-covered mountain, for God’s sake, only then to plummet down the mountain with a large piece of wood strapped to my feet – well, you get the idea. I was apprehensive.

The thought of me snowboarding came as quite a shock to my father, who’s been trying to get me to go skiing with him since I was, I don’t know, ambulatory. The aforementioned phobias led me to turn him down every time he invited me to join him and his partner for their semi-annual trips to Colorado or Utah or whatever square-ish western state he tends to go to. When he called from Park City (or wherever) and heard my plan, he literally dropped the phone. My dad has recently retired, and as a result has sort of lost touch with the way life works for the rest of us. “If you like it,” he said, “you should come out and join us if you can get a day off from work!” Sure, Dad, I’ll just have the Learjet fueled up and hop out to Breckenridge (or wherever) to join you for the day. He did try, in his own inimitable way, to encourage me about my fear of heights: “The chairlift’s pretty scary, I don’t know how you’re going to manage it.” Thanks, Dad.

The preparations changed my mind a little. After talking with the people I was going to go with, and making a list of everything I’d need to have, I started to think that snowboarding just might be an activity I’d really enjoy…buying the equipment for.

I have a weakness, I admit, for this sort of thing. Two years in a row I went on a multi-day canoe trip with my (now-) wife’s stepfather and a group of other guys. Now, I’m not a big fan of the outdoors, with all the bugs, and the paddling, and the sleeping in a tent, and the bugs. (As my mom used to say, my idea of “roughing it” is a Holiday Inn where the elevator’s broken. I like to think of myself as an avid indoorsman.) But buying camping gear? That I can get behind. Waterproof bags, sleeping bags, backpacks, travel toiletry kits…set me loose in an L.L.Bean and I’m a happy camper. (Camper! See what I did there?) Oh, and packing the gear is almost as much fun as buying it. Deciding what items should go in each compartment, tightly rolling t-shirts and socks to take up the minimum amount of volume, and sealing nearly everything in an individual Ziploc bag was just heaven. It’s always a little disappointing when the packing system collides with reality, though. After one night on the river, the socks got all uncoiled and I couldn’t quite remember which pocket the lens cleaner was supposed to go in. Next time I should bring a schematic. Ooh, I could laminate it!

Anyway, faced with the prospect of a whole new gear-buying activity, it took a lot of willpower not to go all “Supermarket Sweeps” at Ski Market, but I managed to restrict myself to a new pair of ($100) long underwear (or, as we snowboarders call them, “thermals”), some glove liners, and some ($25) socks. Seriously, these socks have so many features I think my iPod was jealous.

Even before we actually hit the snow (is that what we say? Hit the snow? I’m not really sure), it was an adventure. The mountain didn’t have a changing area, per se, so we had to change into our gear in the car in the parking lot. I definitely feel as though I got a little more intimately acquainted with the folks in my car, as well as the lovely young couple in the car next to us. (I’m familiar with the sheepish wave you give when you’ve accidentally cut someone off while driving, but what hand gesture do you use to indicate “I’m sorry I got a glimpse of your girlfriend in her underwear?”)

We dressed, we rented, we waited for Andre to stuff his t-shirts down his pants (for protection, he insisted), and we ended up missing the first lesson, so we decided to just hit the easy slope and let June, who’d snowboarded before, show us the ropes. My companions are all a bit more athletically inclined than I am, but I’m proud to say I was definitely the best at clipping my boots into the bindings. After a little while, we decided we were ready to try from the top of the hill, which meant riding the chairlift.

To say that I was nervous would be an understatement. The chairlift is a ridiculous contraption, an obvious deathtrap, and I would have probably been immobilized with fear except that we rode up with a delightfully vulgar New Yorker, and I got to talk baseball. (Apparently, last year was just our fucking year, even if Schilling does have a fucking mouth on him, but this year the fucking Red Sox better watch out. Oh, to be sure, we fucking deserved to win, it was a great fucking series, but, he wanted me to know, he hates the fucking Red Sox.) This was entertaining and distracting enough that I got to the end of the ride without mewling in fear too audibly.

Then we boarded back down. I fell a lot. I guess somehow I thought that all of the time I had spent playing “SSX Tricky” on the Xbox would have helped. If I can only figure out what muscle group maps to the left trigger, I will be awesome.

When we finally took our lesson, I was pleased to discover that I was, at least, better than the 12-year-olds in our group, although my self-esteem was taken down a peg or two by the 6-year-olds whizzing past us at Mach 2 and then cruising to a graceful stop. I think the lesson (and the fatigue) sapped my confidence a little, because our second run down the mountain went not quite so well as the first one. Going ten feet and then falling, then getting up and going ten feet and then falling gets pretty irritating, and after one spectacular fall on my ass (so hard my hat popped off), I decided to walk the rest of the way down.

But, look, I made it back in one (bruised) piece, and now I can say that I’ve gone snowboarding. I may even go back. One more lesson, and maybe I’ll figure out how to turn left. Then, watch out. No, seriously, watch out, because I can’t stop either.

Look Out Below

Mascot 1, Cris Colinsworth 0

This morning, as I was waking up, I had a ridiculous dream and I was wondering if you thought it was a problem. The New England Patriots were playing in a “Big Game” against the San Diego Chargers. I don’t know the signifigance of the opposition being the Chargers, but it was the Chargers in the way you know certain facts in your dreams. Anyway, the Patriots were at the goalline when Bill Belichick inserted himself as quarterback. He was wearing his oversized gray sweatshirt and instead of a helmet, he was wearing his headset. He called for a QB sneak and ran the ball in easily, even sticking it out a little in a somewhat taunting manner.

This is where it gets interesting. I didn’t see anyone hit him, but all of a sudden a Chargers player is running out of the endzone with the ball before he gets decked around the 50 yard line by, who else but, Rodney Harrison. At this point the dream turned from a linear story into a choppy highlight real. There was a Terrel Owens-esque scene of a Charger’s player spiking the ball on the Patriots’ midfield logo, there was a scene of Patriots players on top of Chargers players in the end zone punching the crap out of them. This was weird because the Patriots players were raising their fists and punching in unison (imagine the Rockette’s in a street brawl).

Right before I woke up and as if my dream was returning from commercial, there was a scene of the Patriots mascot being held down by Cris Colinsworth in the way that players are held down during a kick off return. The mascot gets up and punches at Cris Colinsworth missing most of him and Cris Colinsworth slaps him. I didn’t realize this at the time, but slapping the mascot wouldn’t really hurt because he had one of those giant heads. I think in the dream, though, the mascot’s head was a real giant head and not a fake giant head. This mini battle ended with the mascot decking Cris Colinsworth in the mouth and Cris Colinsworth walking way shaking his head and scowling with bloody teeth. And then I woke up. Red Sox pitchers and catchers reported on the 17th and the position players reported today. Although it is snowing outside, today is the first day of spring.

Mascot 1, Cris Colinsworth 0

Baseball

Well, they did it. The Boston Red Sox won the World Series.

Even after the ALCS, I wasn’t sure this was the year. Well, a Red Sox fan is never confident, but I didn’t think our pitching could hold down the Cardinals offense. Boy, was I glad to be wrong. Looks like more evidence for the adage that the postseason is all about premier pitching. If you’d told me in advance, I never would have believed that Pujols, Rolen, and Edmonds would have one hit between them.

The World Series was a little anti-climactic after the rush of The Greatest Comeback In Baseball History. Games 1 and 2 were exciting because we seemed to be trying to lose (8 errors?!), but couldn’t. Games 3 and 4 were simply the confident administration of a methodical drubbing. A good move was watching Game 4 down at the local tavern, where we got to drink, shout, and high-five total strangers. Watching a high-stakes sporting event at home on the couch doesn’t have the same impact. (“We won!’ “Huh. Good show.” “Bed, then?”)

There has been a lot of hand-wringing in the sports press (and sour grape-ing in the New York Times) about what the “end of the Curse” means for Red Sox nation. The implication is that now that we’ve won, we won’t know what to do with ourselves. Even Rachel admitted that she was a little conflicted about winning the World Series. Once we’re not Red Sox Nation, bound together by our shared heartbreak, what are we? Just a bunch of people who all happen to root for the same consistently successful team. Like Yankees fans.

(Because let’s face it, for all of our scrappy underdog persona, we have the second-largest payroll in the Major Leagues, and we use it. Exhibit A: Curt “Bloody Sock” Schilling.)

The other day I had the chance to talk to a very nice guy, who happened to be a Yankees fan. I told him my theory that rooting for the Yankees (or any perennially successful team) must be rather unsatisfying. If they win, you’re happy, but not overwhelmed: winning is your due, it is expected. If they lose, you’re stunned and humiliated (see 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004). What was it really like, I asked, to root for a team like the Yankees?

“It’s really, really great,” he replied.

So I’m not worried about rooting for a successful Boston team. I rooted for a (mostly) successful Cardinals team in the 1980’s, and those were good times. No, what I’m worried about what our lost humility will do to us as fans. How are we going to be identified? We’re not the eternally hopeful, eternally heartbroken group we were until this October. I just hope we don’t end up being the most obnoxious fans in the game.

Don’t get me wrong! I am completely thrilled that we not only beat the Yankees after last year’s cataclysm, but that we beat them in historical fashion. My bigoted uncle (see my “Intermarriage” essay) is a huge Yankees fan, and the thought of showing up at his son’s wedding wearing a Red Sox yarmulke fills me with such joy that I’ve actually caught myself rubbing my hands together and cackling. Cackling!

I’m worried, though, because we’ve shown some bad manners even before we had a championship under our belt. When we’re playing the Devil Rays at Tropicana Field, and the Sox fans outnumber the Rays fans, why do I hear the crowd chanting “Yankees Suck?” Even when we’re playing the hated Boys from the Bronx at Fenway, is that really called for? Sure, the Yankees are overpaid and arrogant, and I’m all about rivalry (back in the StL we used to call the Mets “Pond Scum”) but whatever else you want to say about New York, they don’t suck. At least since the late 90’s, they’ve played themselves some baseball.

And the booing. Look, we were all a little bitter about not getting A-Rod at the beginning of the year. (Although, now? Last laugh.) And yeah, he’s a bit of a punk, and has oddly purple lips. But there’s no call to boo him. In the first game of the World Series, did I really hear the Fenway crowd boo Albert Pujols? Who in their right mind would boo Albert Pujols?! (Heh. Heh. “Poo-holes.”) Our lowest moment, though, as a fan base, was during the introductions before Game 1 when the crowd booed third base coach Dale Sveum. People, I know he’s made some bone-headed decisions directing traffic over there, but to boo a coach? In his home park? On national television? At the World Series? After the ovation everyone else got? Shameful.

So we need to cut that out.

Apart from that, though, I’m not worried about life as a fan of the un-cursed Red Sox. Everyone loves a loveable loser, but everyone also loves a winner, and this bunch is so personable that they’re easy to root for. The best sign, naturally, is that I ended this season with the same words that ended last season (although with a grin instead of a sigh):

“Four months ‘til pitchers and catchers!”

Baseball

Win It For – www.ezboard.com

This might be the best documentation of the Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004 Win It For – www.ezboard.com. It’s filled with hundreds of people asking the Red Sox to win for… Most people have a story about who they want the Sox to win for. Usually, it’s because that person either shared many memories with them, or they had been taught to love the Red Sox by them. It’s great and I consider reading it straight through this morning to be my personal celebration of the Red Sox World Series win!!!

Win It For – www.ezboard.com