Last night, the Red Sox did what we all needed them to do: they won (in spectacular fashion) and allowed us to check out of the constant barrage of replays and reminders of Monday's tragedy, if only for a few hours. There were pre-game moments of silence, and playing of Sweet Caroline all over Major League Baseball last night, but after the initial show of respect and solidarity, the teams got back to work.
I've written before about how baseball can be a coping mechanism, but this time it feels different. The relationship that Boston has with the Red Sox has always been special - since the Braves moved out of town sixty years ago, there has been just one local team. No split fanbase or Subway Series for the Hub, because Boston is a Red Sox town.
Though none of the players currently on the Red Sox roster are from Boston, they all feel a sense of pride and belonging to the city, and Monday's events hurt them, too. They know, like the members of the Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, and Revolution, that Boston is a place that largely defines itself by its sports teams: our heroes are practically canonized, while disappointments are chased out of town.
Though it's somewhat ridiculous to call men who play a game for a living heroes, especially given the amazing acts of heroism and selflessness from Boston police officers, firefighters, medical personal, marathon runners, and ordinary civilians on Monday, sometimes it feels nice to unplug and invest your emotions in something less dire.
Red Sox players know what they mean to us. They know that now, more than ever, we will be investing our emotions and hopes in them. They know that the city who proudly embraces the Boston Red Sox as an emblem of our culture will be seeing every victory for the baseball team as a proverbial FUCK YOU to the person or group who tried to tear us apart.
The Red Sox know. Just as the city has embraced them, they have embraced us back. They're playing every game for the city of Boston, more urgently than ever before.