The 'B' on my hat is for Boston.
More precisely, Boston Red Sox. I moved to a suburb of Boston from Queens, N.Y., when I was 2. I thank God every baseball season that I moved before I could catch Yankee fever. As soon as I was introduced to baseball by my father, I loved it. Everything about the game and its intricacies spoke to me like I was Kevin Costner: the infield fly rule, pitching inside to get the hitter off the plate, advancing base runners, everything. The game remains timeless and infinite; it is replete with painstaking details, yet it is as simple as throwing a ball so your opponent can't hit it.
Growing up with the Boston Red Sox has helped mold my character, my outlook on life and my appreciation for history. When I was six, the Boston Red Sox broke my heart when they went to the World Series and lost to the Cincinnati Reds. They ripped my still-beating heart out of my 17-year-old torso when they gave away the 1986 World Series to the Mets of New York.
THE 'B' IS FOR BAMBINO
As in the supposed "curse of the Babe": George Herman "Babe" Ruth, sold to the Yankees in 1918. I wasn't there, but I hear tell that Babe done threw a piano into a lake when he heard the news. Something more extraterrestrial than that must have happened, because these days everyone thinks that the curse will prevent the Red Sox from winning a World Series … ever. Admittedly, the Red Sox have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory more than a handful of times in my lifetime. I don't blame the Babe, though. Lack of attention to detail will kill you in baseball.
THE 'B' IS FOR BILL BUCKNER
In the aforementioned '86 Series, the Red Sox were one out away from winning the game when Buckner let a ground ball trickle between his legs. The Mets rallied, won the game and later the championship, and every Red Sox fan has wished ill on Bill Buckner since. I can guaran-damn-tee you that there is no more loathed figure in Beantown than Bill Buckner. He could have "reversed the curse," but instead he gave it a little more momentum. Winning a World Series would allow Buckner to enjoy the few remaining years of his pathetic, non-fielding-ass life. His children might be once again willing to show their face in public without fear of retribution for their father's act of ineptitude.
THE 'B' IS FOR BELIEVE
Even though every baseball season ends in a loss for the Red Sox, by spring training the Red Sox Nation is ready to believe again. After an obligatory "how we got robbed last year" rant, the Sox fan evaluates the off-season roster moves and/or manager firing and proclaims, "Ya know, I really think we got the Yankees' numbah this yeah." This undying belief and denial can be seen in the countless "Yankees Suck (and Jeter Swallows)" shirts for sale outside Fenway Park. The Red Sox have been the Yankees' bitch when it comes to rivalries, yet the Red Sox Nation will never stop talking smack.
Accompanying those season-ending collapses, the Red Sox are prone to pulling off are some amazing late-inning heroics. The turning point of this 2004 season was a game in which there was a fistfight, a near-rain-out and a bottom-of-the-ninth-inning home run that won the game for the Good Guys.
THE 'B' IS FOR BIZARRE
The pipe dream of a Red Sox championship and the unbridled joy it would bring to the Red Sox Nation gives way to a stark reality: It just wouldn't be the same to be a Red Sox fan if they were to win a world championship. Part of the magical fraternity of Red Sox fandom is the misery we all share. The Sox break our hearts every October, and we ignorantly open our arms and hearts to them the following spring. If this were a relationship between lovers, it would be on the Jerry Springer show. It brings to mind those beleaguered women you see on COPS who keep going back to their abusive husbands. He's going to keep using her as a punching bag, and she's going to keep on taking it.
THE 'B' IS FOR BOSTON
You can beat the crap out of us every year, you damn Yankees, but we'll still say (over and over again) that you suck. The city that dumped tea in Boston Harbor to tell the Brits we were sick of their taxation without representation is the same city that calls Alex Rodriguez "Gay-Rod." Different language, same protest spirit.
Boston loves its big-league version of the Bad News Bears. The Red Sox can break my heart every baseball season, yet by the following one I'll have forgiven (if not forgotten) the pain and sorrow. Being a Red Sox fan is about determination, denial and hope. It's something I know will never change; a World Series victory would be unsettling, to say the very least. Not end-of-the-world unsettling, but not to have that elusive world championship to dream about would make life a little less mystical. Still, I hope I get the chance to experience it and find out for myself. Screw the curse.