What kind of a religion is it? The Red Sox are sacred to all of us.Call it passion, call it spirituality, call it too much free time on our hands, whatever.But they are sacred.So how have we defined our feelings into a religion?
There is no separation of church and state here, which is the main difference between Red Sox Nation and the United States of America (that and we can’t declare war if we want oil reserves).In that sense, Boston is the Vatican City of American professional sports.Rules installed by the team are adopted by all their zealots.A decree to wear red at the ballpark will be followed by most practitioners.
The founder of our religion was a man named “Nuff Ced” McGreevey, the patron saint of passionate fans.As told in the story of “The Royal Rooters,” a.k.a. “the Good Book, er, Movie,” McGreevey was a mere tavern owner who preached from the gospel of Guiness (“Brilliant!”) and people listened . . . until they passed out.In the early days of the 20th Century, he spoke of this new team in town, the Pilgrims (Fig. 3.2) and the joy they would bring.Lives would be changed, priorities altered, and perceptions molded.
He was prone to visions.He would say, “I see you ordering another round.”And you did.“I see us going to Pittsburgh.”And he was right.(This is where the term “pilgrimage” came from.
Our sacred Treasure
It was a dark and scary night not unlike this one. A stiff breeze was blowing out to left center. 36,000 fans had filed into the ballpark not knowing what terror they would experience . . .
The sacred contains notions of both a positive, creative power and a danger that requires stringent prohibitions.Do not switch seats in the middle of a rally.Do not speak of a victory before it’s time.Do not mess with the delicate temperament of the baseball deities.Or be prepared to unleash the eeeeeeeevil.[to be said with spooky voice] The common human reaction to the two sides of the sacred coin is of both fear and fascination.Like that famous story of “Pedroia’s box.” (Fig. 3.3) And we wind up opening the box every spring.
Relgious rites and ceremonies
First, we must know what the unimpeachable rules are and we take it from there.
The Ten Fenway Commandments
To protect the place of worship, different religions take different measures; the Jews place a mezuzah over the door; Catholics place a statue of Jesus; Buddhism has the Buddah (a.k.a. Tony Gwynn).Fenway Park has a statue of Ted Williams behind the park with a child praying at his feet. Millions of visitors to the Chapel every year take turns asking the statue for hitting lessons.
These revered tunes are “Sweet Caroline,” “Dirty Water,” and “Tessie.”
Then the umpire missed a stolen base call at second base and Caroline stood up from her front row seat and screamed, “Are you blind, ump?! He was safe! Ya *****! The whole world saw but you, *****! *****!”
We’re proud of this! We hear the song and scream, “Yep, that’s us! I’ve been getting mugged and slimed down there for years. I love Boston.”
The song was brought back to popularity in 2004 and redone by the Dropkick Murphys (who, for your edification, Mr. Mayor, are a full band and not just one person). Of course, the song is much different now than it was then:
The songs bring people together. They signal a connection among nationals. And, as an added perk, they drive people from New York nuts every time they hear them. It’s just another example of the religious power music possesses.
Chanting is done in three different cadences.The first is your basic 1-2-3 where each beat is uniformly consistent with the other two.It is the scheme upon which the
“Yankees Suck!” chant is predicated.Just imagine saying 1, 2, 3 over and over again and then substitute the words in there as in “Yan kees suck,” “Yan kees suck,” “M.V.P.” “We love Youk” “ We love Youk” “I want beer” “I want beer” “Im peach Bush” . . .you get the picture.This can be used anywhere you want to get your point across.
The second follows a more complex rhythm and adds clapping which is a major part of the custom.It takes the first beat of 1, 2, 3, then adds a 1, 2 in the middle and finishes with another 1, 2, 3 and two claps.The subtle change in the 1, 2, 3 is that you sort of slur the 2 and the 3 together.So it’s 1-23, 1-2, 1-23.The most popular of these is “Here we go, Red Sox, here we go! [clap clap]
And the final one is clap-heavy with a seesaw cadence.It’s 1-2, 1-2 where the 1’s start you up high and the 2’s bring you lower.“Let’s Go, Red Sox! [clap clap clapclapclap].This is to be clapped out with two single claps followed by three quick ones, or 1-2-123.When you’re a mob moving in a direction together, this one best suits the occasion.
And a one syllable chant isn’t used at the park as much as it is at other locations such as a bar or Symphony Hall.“Beer!Beer!Beer!Beer!”
Food holds an important place in the symbolism of religion.As is customary in most religions, there are dietary rules which list prohibited foods.These prohibited foods may not be consumed in any form.Most food that comes from an animal is acceptable, If meat is not chosen, there are other options, such as shellfish, but only if served in a white broth, such as cream or milk.Little pieces of bacon and soup nuts are recommended, but not required.
Imitation animal products are forbidden, as are lower fat options such as the turkey, the buffalo, and the ostrich.If you want that stuff, go to Whole Foods, ya beatnik!
Beverage is a necessary accoutrement to the meal during the Festival of the Innings. One might suggest a hops-laden drink, sometimes malted, definitely wheat-based. Or bubbles are also acceptable if added to sugar and corn syrup. Should water be your beverage of choice, be prepared to show a doctor’s note detailing whatever medical condition you have that is preventing you from drinking something else.
Food is ingestible sacrament, but some objects are not meant to be ingested. (Again, those lapel pins are not for eating!) A popular custom is to include paraphernalia in one’s tradition.
Rally cap versus the rally monkey
The truth is, the rally monkey is actually an actor that doesn’t care whether his team scores or not.Her real name is Katie (Fig. 3.4). You might remember her as Marcel the Monkey on “Friends.”Yes, the fans in Anaheim follow an actor.
Now you might ask yourself where can I get a rally cap? I’ve already spent too much money on a regular cap, I don’t want to spend more.
It is a common misconception to believe you’ll need a second cap, but fret not, for all caps come rally-enabled, with a “rally” function.
To activate, simply remove your hat and turn it inside out. Then replace it on your head. Flipping the brim up acts as the power “button.” Once done, your rally cap is now “on.”
It is to be turned on only when runs are needed from the seventh inning on and your team at bat. All other times, it should be turned off, otherwise, you will waste the Karmic batteries.
These are viewed as the permanent embodiments of the deities they represent.One statue that is seen as critically important to our culture is the statue of Manny at home plate with his arms raised.(Oh, wait . . . that is Manny.He just hit another home run.)
Some teams wave their white laundry in the air declaring, “Surrender!” during the contest being played.Hankies, towels, rags, whatever you’d like to call them, are bandied about with more fervor than you’d use on your own child for winning a spelling bee.
Other similar objects used to funnel positive energy toward a team is a tomahawk.It is was ceremonial in the mid-19th century to take a real tomahawk to the opposing team’s starting pitcher.This was before they had laws regarding this and they placed a lot more importance on recreational activities than on the importance of human life. Also, American Indians stopped warring with the “White Man” and started inducing them to double-down foolishly.
In a similar fashion, some teams choose one representative to make the noise for all of them.For example, a person might pound a big drum steadily during the game.It is done until it starts to rain.This allows their starting pitchers to get plenty of off days as the field is constantly deluged.
Depending on the rhythm methodically created, it has been known to bring snow in April, fog in June, and bugs (of the Biblical variety) in October, though the bugs may have been attracted to the Yankees’ set-up man and come of their own volition.One thing the drumming has not been found to cause winning, however.
The unwritten rule of the fanbase is that one must make noise without accessories, or props.The only things that may be exhibited in a wavelike motion include a hat (baseball, not cowboy or beanie), a banner revealing a salutary phrase (one option includes “Hi, Don and Jerry, Stockbridge says ‘Woof!’” or something like that) or, if you are under 12 years of old, a giant foam finger.Anything else is blasphemous.Those waving towels or foam tomahawks are looked upon as the sports fan equivalent of Carrot Top.
Types of Rituals
Positive and negative myths
Do NOT mention a no-hitter while it is in progress.Do NOT display “Congratulations!” for your team on the scoreboard BEFORE they’ve officially squeezed the last out.Similarly, do NOT wheel crates of champagne into the clubhouse until the final out has been recorded.
There are millions of unique rituals created every day.Take the case of Debbie.In 2007, Debbie was driving to a bar to watch a Red Sox playoff game when the muffler fell off her car.She never made it to the game in time as she was waiting for AAA to arrive.The Red Sox won that night. She had a new muffler put in the next day, then watched the next three games, all of which were lost by the Sox.
Before we continue, who are the Gods upon whom we heap our unwavering (unless they start to slump) worship?To whom do we confess if we commit a sin?Can you be baptized in beer instead of holy water?Do we have to answer these questions to be allowed into the religion or these are just hypothetical?
That is to whom you direct your reverence. But you must first learn which type of prayer is relevant at which time?
From the Book of Carlton 10:21
From the Book of Roger 4:29
I offer up these pitches
Thrown with fire behind them.
Types of Prayer
Please let him get a hit, o Lord, for thou art the most wise and benevolent ruler . . . and handsome too.
(Fig. 3.5) Hail Papi
Praise & thanksgiving
Lord, I love you for your greatness.And not just because you blew that ball just out of reach of the first baseman allowing Manny another chance to get that game-winning RBI, though that was great too.But you always seem to be there to do the right thing.I’m so glad you’re on our side and not those pesky Angels.
Interviewer:That was a clutch shot you made there at the end.
Religious athlete:Yeah it was.I wanna thank God for helping me make it . . .
Usually this comes after several memorable moments and many beers.Three million people along a parade route leading down the Charles River used this on one day in October a few years ago and again in 2007.
This final prayer is very businesslike.You are, in essence, entering into a contract with your god.“If you do this, Lord, I will do that.”An informal study recently by the Center for Informal Studies came to the conclusion that the most renounced activity in these arrangements is drinking.However, only 3% of all promises involving drinking are kept.
Looking the Part
Dress can be a wide range of attire from t-shirts to game shirts to long-sleeve shirts to fleece shirts to three-quarter shirts, etc.Then there are accoutrements, tattoos (the “B” in Sox font, or a pair of socks), or markings (a birthmark in the shape of Luis Tiant).Perhaps face and body paint is also incorporated into the entire giving of oneself to religion.
Emphasis on sacrifice
The trade was not accepted by the box office and Harris was eventually returned to him before Child Services came and took his father away.Harris, meanwhile, pooled his paper route money with his older siblings and they bought season tickets back when they were still available. The trio was front and center for the 2004 World Series sending their father photos after the fact.
Life & Death
“Death,” in this instance, is the end of baseball season or also, specifically, the end of the team’s season. Red Sox fans are constantly haunted by the prospect of death. It materializes in September, October, and some years in July.
Fear of the Dead
Each religion follows their own legend.One particular congregation in the Midwest fears a goat.How silly is that?[Insert nervous chuckle here.]
Other reasons are the belief that your possessions were a meeting place for the bad luck and you must essentially destroy that place.It’s the scorched earth theory, really, allowing for a fresh start the next year.It’s as if bugs infest them, only these bugs are the horror of disappointment and unrealistic expectations that go along with listening to the sports “experts” and talk radio blabbers.It’s the idea that a fresh start can only be achieved if all connections to the past be erased.
Another option is obtain new friends or a different family to merely give the effect of changing your identity.It also makes it seem like you’ve been reincarnated; you’re with the same soul, but a different vessel in which to travel through the future (though a vessel with the same gimpy back when it rains).
It could be that like Bruce Willis in “Sixth Sense,” we’re already dead, but don’t know it yet.(Sorry if I ruined that for anyone, but you should’ve seen it by now.)Winning twice in four years after thinking it would never happen? Doesn’t that seem a little odd?Could we have died and this is all taking place in heaven?If that’s the case, how do you explain the Bruins?Why would we watch a beloved team wallow in such misfortune year after year if we were in Heaven?
May Teddy Ballgame Bless Us
Sacredness refers to those things in society that are forbidden or set apart.And since these things were set apart by society, society is that which is sacred.Whoa!That’s deep.Hit the showers.You’ve earned it.
© Copyright 2016 Andy Wasif. All rights reserved.
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