Then came the 1986 World Series and the Great Buckner Collapse. At that point, I figured I'd suffered enough. I got a divorce. Amicable, but still a divorce. With a prodigious act of will, I resolved to follow the Sox -- but at an enforced distance. I refused to live or die with them. Which is how I got through Grady's Blunder -- leaving Pedro in too long -- in Game 7 of the 2003 Red Sox-Yankees playoff.
It was a hard fall for Sox fans, but I came through it beautifully -- feeling delighted, indeed somewhat superior, at my partial emancipation from the irrationality of fandom (far more troubling than the pain). Thus a free man, almost purged of all allegiance, I watched with near-indifference as the Montreal Expos moved to Washington. Little did I know.
The Washington Nationals are born. I do not know a thing about them. I do not know a single player on the team. I have no residual allegiance to them -- even though I grew up in Montreal and remember well their opening 1969 season at absurdly chintzy Jarry Park -- because I never cared about the Expos.
But it is a new home team. And I am a bit curious. So I'm listening to their second game, a come-from-behind win in which no-name center fielder Brad Wilkerson hits for the cycle. Next day, a nifty comeback: Jose Vidro hits a game-winning homer in the 10th.
I'm beginning to ask the Butch Cassidy question: Who are those guys? Then another comeback, another game-winning dinger, this time by Jose Guillen, a refugee from the Anaheim Angels, shipped out after, let us say, an altercation with his manager. And then yet another surprise victory against the fearsome Atlanta Braves, a ridiculously impossible comeback with two outs in the ninth.
Presto. It is 1975 all over again. I begin to care. I want them to win. Why? I have no idea. I begin following day games on the Internet. I've punched not one but two preset Nationals stations onto my car radio. I'm aghast. I'm actually invested in the day-to-day fortunes of 25 lugheads I never heard of until two weeks ago.
This is crazy. I've relapsed, and I like it so much I've forsworn all medication.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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