And my drug is baseball.
Why do these games always have to happen the day AFTER I go to the park?
But no matter. This game was our July 24.
I know because of this weak-kneed, cleansed, purged, feeling. I know because this was the first time a game this season has made me jump up and bounce off the walls of my living room and scream and applaud and cry and want to hit my TV all at the same time. I know because right now, I am completely intoxicated though I haven't had a drop to drink.
I know because this game - this stupid, joyful, ecstatic, painful, cruel bastard of a game - will put a bounce in my step for the next two days.
John Papelbon did well for a youngster, and I loved that the Fenway faithful were so encouraging and warm with him, like veteran dog owners with a new puppy. Maybe later we'll break out the choke collar and rolled up newspaper and invisible fence, but not today. Today, a line of 5.1IP 4H 3R 2ER 5BB 7SO 2HR was met with nearly parental patience.
I love that Papelbon is the kind of pitcher announcers call "the big righty." As we know, I love big righties.
And Gabey's catch to save the game. And Papi unloading into the right field corner on the first pitch. And Mike Timlin mowing down Terry Tiffee to hold the line like something out of Braveheart to end the eighth inning. And Curt Schilling walking his tightrope and coming out the other side in the ninth.
But, of course, the moment of all moments, was Manny.
I've said before that Manny, more than anyone else, just lights up the ballpark when he comes up to the on-deck circle. Even in some humdrum midseason game, Manny's appearance at the top of the dugout steps sends a near-audible jolt of electricity zinging through the stands. People stand, scream and generally lose their minds just at the sight of him. This is on a regular day.
Raise it to the tenth power, and that was today. It was as if we'd just acquired him, rather than elected not to trade him. It was as if he'd risen from the dead.
And then...he not only came up, but he hit a miracle of a single up the middle (faint shades of game 4) to score the winning run.
You can't make that shit up. You can't script it. You can't even imagine it, and suddenly there you are and there's nothing in the universe besides you and the television and beyond, the park where something lives that you can't touch, but can't possibly live without.
Nothing happened! Nothing. Manny Ramirez was not traded. That is all. The first place Red Sox swept a struggling Minnesota team. It was nothing.
It was everything.
You need a day off after a game like that.