Today is “Patriots Friday” here at my workplace, a typical, cubicle-filled affair in an office park not too far from Boston. “Wear your Patriots gear to work this Friday!” commanded the HR folks in their ever-sunny way, “Show your support! Go Pats!”
I complied, of course, and am sitting here in my Tedy Bruschi jersey. Outwardly, I am in every way the loyal Patriots fan.
Secretly, though, it is all an act.
Yes, 17-0 is, in local parlance, wicked awesome. Yes, I’m very happy to be in the AFC Championship game for the fifth time in seven years. Yes, all those flashy offensive records are pretty cool.
But inside, I am as an empty husk. Inside, I yearn only for one game, and it is not the Super Bowl. No.
It is Opening Day.
Under this football jersey, I wear the tee-shirt of my Red Sox of Boston. Invisible beneath the 54 is another number: 58. Hidden behind the block letters B-R-U-S-C-H-I, I wear the name of another man: P-A-P-E-L-B-O-N.
For the baseball fan, late January is always a time of quiet desperation. The hot stove season is largely over, yet even Truck Day seems hopelessly far away. One begins to wonder, in the long, dark nights, whether pitchers and catchers will ever report. Just as people with seasonal affective disorder require an expensive sun-lamp to get them through the short, dreary days, baseball fans need some sort of sound machine to pipe the crack of the bat and the pop of the mitt into the silent, midwinter air.
Baseball fans, I do not have such a machine. But I do have the baseball photos of the Library of Congress, conveniently archived on Flickr.
Peace be with you.