It’s not much, just a little reggae tune sung by the late Bob Marley, but during the three home games of the 2013 World Series, Boston fans belted it out with a fervent conviction “Sweet Caroline” will never match. It may well outlast the tenure of Shane Victorino, batting hero of the Series-clinching Game 6. Hearing the Faithful roar the chorus before the Flyin’ Hawaiian banged his third-inning double off the greenie brought gooseflesh to my arms and a lump to my throat. It wasn’t just about the game. All those Boston voices were actually singing to each other: “Every little thing gonna be all right.”
I have puzzled long and hard about my devotion to the Red Sox — in good times and in bad — and how it relates to the jewel city of the New England where I have spent almost my entire life. All I can figure is that there’s a powerful kind of transference going on. We bear the frustrations (as in the miserable 2012 season) and celebrate the victories (no more sweetly unexpected than this year, when the baseball swamis almost unanimously picked the Blue Jays to finish first and the Sox to end the season in the cellar) because they are us and we are them. No player has grasped this better than David Ortiz, who said — before famously proclaiming Boston our [expletive] city — “This jersey that we wear today, it doesn’t say Red Sox. It says Boston.”
Under normal circumstances, sports are just a welcome diversion from our ordinary lives, and when the local teams win, we take a little bit of that victory to ourselves, bask in it for a day or two, then move on. This World Series was different, and not just because the final out was recorded on home turf for the first time in 95 years. It restored balance to a city that was hurt and frightened (but not cowed, never that) by the vicious crime that occurred on April 15. Half a year later, at another sporting event, there were no explosions, no deaths, no innocent bystanders maimed by flying shrapnel. Instead, almost 40,000 voices rose to repudiate anger, violence, and the darkness that always threatens: “Every little thing gonna be all right.”
On the night of October 30, 2013, it absolutely was. How [expletive] great is that?