Let's entertain ourselves, shall we?
Second of all, squeeee.
Thirdly, what a great article (among an ocean of great articles) at Baseball Analysts by Chad Finn, also author of Touching all the Bases, about his favorite obscure players. I have filed this away for a future (rain delay?) writing project for myself, but for now I thought I'd just point it out.
The memory that keeps coming back during this weekend's rains is of the first date that Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS was supposed to be played in Boston. The teams and fans still showed up at the dripping ballpark, eager to do battle. I remember the photos I saw later (and some video footage on content-starved Boston sports stations) of the night's scheduled starter (and the next night's whipping boy) Bronson Arroyo pacing around the field before the game was called.
Having already sunk into despair over the first two games of the series, I had little more to offer without having seen the further outcome of a home game. So I just posted the following, a Katsina or Navajo prayer for rain:
Keeper of the spring rain,
Drumming on the mountain;
Lord of the small rain,
That restores the earth to newness;
Keeper of the clean rain,
Hear a prayer for wholeness.
I believe I had either seen a documentary or read an article on katsinas, also spelled kachinas; the word actually refers to several inter-related concepts in Native American religion, including dolls representing the spirits, the spirits themselves, and the celebrants, usually male dancers, of religous ritual. There are kachinas representing dozens of aspects of nature, and rain is of course one of them--among the most important for the desert tribes, including the Pueblo, Hopi and Navajo peoples, that followed these traditions.
The men of the tribe dressed and masked [themselves] to represent the Kachinas in traditional dances/ceremonies. Their belief is that such dancers actually become the spirits they represent for the duration of the ceremony. Even though there are male and female Kachinas, only men can represent them.
Both the dolls and the dancers are conflated in this religion with the gods themselves; they are both invoking and becoming the spirits whose favors the people desire. Much like our baseball team that year.
It's among my shortest posts ever, and a throwaway post of sorts, but this week I've remembered it, and actually been proud of it. Everyone has some superstitious way they felt they contributed to the win in 2004--Bill Simmons with his bird poop; that kid who got hit in the face with a foul ball off the bat of Manny Ramirez (remember him?); some hot dog vendors outside Fenway who discovered a 1918 penny stuck to the side of their cart. In a way, it might be true--it might be that our combined rituals, acted out by our katsinas on the field in white, called down the favor of the gods that year.
And if I sometimes believe posting the prayer helped, I guess that's okay too.
Speaking of the Red Sox as religion, I have of late been better about what has in the past been an odious book-buying habit, but today I was at Borders to get Mother's Day presents and spotted this book, and thought, ah well, just this once.
Like the daily prayer books popular among some Christian sects, and Alcoholics Anonymous books of daily affirmations, combined with the syndicated Today in History feature located in the back pages of many newspapers--but infused with the history and obscure factoids for which the baseball fanatic has an insatiable appetite, and better still, only about my team. I am very satisfied with my purchase.
So here is the most interesting tidbit for May 13 in Red Sox history. I will be keeping this book handy, and will share more snippets where appropriate (read: times I got nothin' else).
1967 The Sox led the Tigers, 5-4, after seven innings at Fenway. Moose Korince came in to throw the eighth, the fourth pitcher of the day for Detroit. He walked one, but allowed neither hits nor runs. Then the Tigers mauled John Wyatt, scoring six home runs in the top of the ninth. Pitcher Early Wilson pinch-hit for Korince, homering for the fourth and fifth runs of the frame. Dave Wickersham took over mound duties, and the Sox surged back for three hits and three runs, but finally retired the side, preserving the win for Korince and preserving the Ottawa-born right hander's claim to be the only undefeated Canadian pitcher in Major League history. His record remains: 1-0.