Saturday, June 07, 2008

Heroes Falling and Flapjacks Flying

I'm a sports chick. I used to play with the guys, though I never did see they mythical "all guy plus one" teams alleged to pepper the neighborhoods of America. When I was a kid there were both girls and boys on every corner lot with baselines carved into the grass by wear and tear. The notion that girls liking sports made them "tomboys" always confused me. I never knew "girly girls" really existed. All the girls in my neighborhood loved kickball, dodge-ball, and dirt. We wore makeup in high school, liked boys, and would slug anybody who said a word against our home team. And everybody-- regardless of gender-- loved the Sox. Which wasn't always easy... we waited 86 years for that series win, you know. I mean, they let school out early back in the day when Pudge waved a dinger to glory, and when Buckner made a small ummm... error with a ball... we've moved on from that one recently. Not going to talk about that.

So my fan loyalty is serious. I know my Red Sox obsession can, on occasion, be unhealthy. I'm owning it, k? Cut me some slack. Yet, regardless of my adoration, when a relationship is in trouble, pretending everything is fine doesn't work. If we ignore the problems they grow. So I'm putting it out there. I'm facing it. There's an elephant in the dugout.

What was up with the in-house spat? I'm not saying that Red Sox Papa figure Curt Schilling is wrong in his dismissive assessment. Guys who are like brothers, guys who work together closely, guys who are passionate about what they do... they're going to have occasional releases of steam. And maybe it means nothing. Honestly? The other night, when Coco Crisp started a bench-clearing brawl the other night... I wasn't shocked. I'll admit I wasn't even all that disappointed, though that's probably the wrong attitude.

But when Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis-- two very significant Red Sox icons, for the sports-impaired-- had a dust-up right there in their own dugout I felt cold dread. Ice in my veins. Pain. Hurt. Confusion.

It reminded me of the tangled knot of feelings I would feel, as a little girl, when my brothers fought. I mean, they'd roll around in the dirt and pound the daylights out of one another. You'd swear on your life they hated eachother and were out for blood. It looked that way.

In that moment, in the dirt, with the insults and fists flying, they probably thought they hated eachother. And it used to freak me out. And I would get upset, and scared, and sometimes when I was really small I would cry.

In retrospect, those fights-- and even the recent scrap between my Fenway boys-- actually represented a level of intimacy that has to be pretty deep. We are most willing to hurt those closest to us for a reason. We trust them, unconsciously, to forgive us. We are passionate in our pride and love for them, so our disappointment goes just as deep.

And heroes do, now and then, stumble.

So Curt Schilling, that grampy old guy who knows a thing or two about heroism, is right. They're not just team mates; they're not just two guys in uniforms; they're brothers. Even the generally vitriolic Boston press could find absolutely no hostility between the two guys a day after the incident. A couple of lockers apart, they puttered around the locker room as usual.

So it's probably just like it is with all of us. Families, even really good ones, fight. It looks bad if it takes place in public, sure. I mean, if you chuck a flapjack at your brother down at the IHop people will probably think you were raised by terrible parents and hate one another. They don't know your history. They don't know you tell that story every Christmas and laugh. It's over, and now it's funny. But you know the back-story. There were comments about a certain boy, a syrup situation, something involving sneakers borrowed without permission...

Like Jonathan Papelon (pitcher, for the sports-impaired) said, he has had pretty bad fights with his own brothers, but it's normal. "Josh broke my nose," he said, but "when it's all said and done, you still have love for eachother."

Way to out your baby brother there, Pap. Watch out for flying flapjacks. I'm just sayin'...

So ok. I once cut nasty strips into my oldest brothers' sideburns right before he got called to National Guard duty because he didn't give me notice before demanding the haircut. And I used to mess up the back of his head pretty bad and wait to see how long he'd go without noticing it. My baby brother got me in trouble for nothing once and I convinced him he had neglected his teddy bear and it was dead. He tearfully agreed not to confess to anyone and let me bury it in the back yard to "cover for him," while he watched and cried. (Dad unearthed the corpse while rototilling the garden years later. The look on my brother's face as the memory flooded back was pretty scary. It was like CSI Green Harbor... the body in the garden came back to haunt me.) One of my brothers had a bulls-eye burn scar on the end of his nose for months after a car cigarette lighter incident in the back of an Oldsmobile.

So... what magnificent torments have you inflicted on the siblings you love? Spill it!


  1. I was an only child until I was 12--and you know, it's pretty difficult to get into fights with a newborn.

    My kids don't scrap much. But my daughter did like to put make up on her brother all the time. That one gets tossed around at dinner still.

  2. My brother has a variety of scars that I'm responsible for. That's really all I'm willing to say in public. LOL

  3. ROFL--my sister and I scrapped all the time.

    RE: Manny Ramires, I'm sorry, but I'm soooooo sooooo not surprised. I can't say I cared for him when he was on the Indians...I was glad to see his overly tweezed eyebrows leave Cleveland. LOL

  4. ugh, typing before 8 am sucks. Manny RamireZ, I meant. LOL

  5. My bro and I are 2 years apart in age. I'm older, but he's always been taller (last time I was taller, I was 5 and he was 3).

    So he learned pretty early on that's it's NOT ok for him to hit girls, especially not his sister, who's so much smaller. I, on the other hand, did NOT learn that lesson. I figured since he's bigger and knows he can't hit back, I'm safe.

    I was right. LOL! (I was a kicker...what can I say? I'm a dancer. My legs are strong...not so much my arms.)

    Went to the Nats/Giants game on Saturday night. Wow, it was unbelievably hot. Didn't cool down until past 9 pm, and that was only because the thunderstorm was rolling in. LOL!