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Soup of This Day #2: A Declaration of Codependence

May 22, 2011

Fenway Grandstands
The Fenway Park grandstand section. 1 day Longworth72 will sit there – Photo: Aidan C. Siegel, 2006. Aidan C. Siegel is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Before I write anything more about sporting results I think it’s best I come clean. Context is important in communication and so you probably should know a bit about where I write from.

I’m a Liverpool FC fan. Have been for close to 30 years. I started supporting them because there was a game on TV and my dad, to break up a fight between my brother and I, insisted on each of us picking a team and sticking with it.

He meant in terms of that specific game but I was very young. I remember thinking that the team in red played a beautiful game of football and so I took them to heart. Dad, I’m sure, thinks it’s a fad I’ll grow out of one day. Many replica shirts, tears, and roars of joy later I think he’s misread that one.

I’m a Boston Red Sox fan as well. Not because they and Liverpool are now owned by the same group (That’s a relatively recent thing). I bought a genuine New Era Sox cap when I was young – It cost me $50, a very princely sum for a kid in the 80’s. The cap bespoke a simplicity – There was the classic ‘B’ on a navy background. I figured any team that didn’t need a stylized animal or neon logo was ok by me. The Sox had me hooked from then.

Why? They were a club with a history and more stories than I could learn in a lifetime. They’d had no World Series success to toast for nearly 70 years but that was part of the legend.

My local team (the term is relative) is the Australian Football League (AFL) team, the Fremantle Dockers. I say local because I live in Perth, Western Australia and Fremantle is a city within the greater metropolitan area of Perth. I’m not from Fremantle – I don’t live there or indeed south of the Swan River, the traditional marker for Dockers supporters.

I was in fact born next door to Subiaco Oval, the club home for the West Coast Eagles, the other Perth team. I once lived in Fremantle for 3 or so months but hated it and so that’s not why I support them. It has more to do with their formation.

They were born in 1995 with a large part of their roster coming from Claremont, the local Western Australian side that I had grown up with. I adopted them initially for this and then stuck with them subsequently because they were terrible.

They lost.

A lot.

The first 9 Western Derby matchups with West Coast went to the Eagles. Fremantle stank. They were and still are the working class oppressed. Wrong side of the tracks cannon fodder. Which made their victories sweet.

So why the declaration?

Apart from declaring my biases and warning that this blog is heavily slanted towards these three teams there is something else you should know and possibly have even guessed at.

I don’t often get to watch my teams, excepting Freo, play. Either on TV or in person.

In fact, I’ve never been to Anfield or Fenway. Not even close.

In the 80s I relied on newspaper reports and occasional broadcasts, both via radio and on TV. It was bad enough for Liverpool matches – The best was typically a weekly highlights package on TV plus the radio classifieds from the BBC World Service. For the Red Sox it was nigh on impossible. Newspaper clippings of results the sole salve with the nature of the game only being hinted at.

Early this century pay TV took off in Australia and English football had a home, Major League Baseball too. The problem was that I didn’t have that kind of money and the end result was that football was forced from free-to-air TV and I was actually worse off.

The internet has saved the game(s) for me. Liverpool launched an online subscription system somewhere around 2002. It has allowed me to watch extended highlights of every Reds game ever since. I rarely miss a goal.

For the baseball MLB has had a web presence for some time and a good one at that. The current MLB ‘At Bat’ iPhone app is brilliant, even in it’s free incarnation (worth the dollars for the paid though). Coupled with live blogging from The Boston Globe and I get to see, hear and feel like I’m in the game.

So there you go. I’m an armchair fan at a distance. Some would argue that that makes me not a true fan. I don’t care – I’ve never been one to let my appreciation of sport be defined by others.

It does mean that I’m removed sometimes from some of what is occurring – I can miss subtle changes in the wind (literally and figuratively). So if you’re looking for a substitute to being at the game then best read another blog/website. This one is about the vignettes that make sport interesting beyond the box score. I’ll give the box scores as a base but this is more of a kick-starter to the conversations that follow.

Ok, declarations done for the day – The Sox imploded against the Cubs at Fenway this morning. Leading 3-1 at the top of the 8th the bullpen just couldn’t get it done, Albers and Morales getting into a hole that got deeper and deeper, yielding 8 before they sheepishly climbed out. There was no miracle from the bats this time and the final score came in at 9-3 Cubbies.

The positives: A good start from Aceves and Dan Wheeler seemed ok coming back from the DL. Boston also briefly flirted with a division lead thanks to the Marlins edging the Rays, emphasising that the gap, wrought in April, is gone.

The negatives: 7 on the trot and we all knew that Boston’s bullpen was eventually going to feel the loss of two starters. The bullpen has yielded up Aceves and Wakefield to the rotation, leaving things a bit on the light side. The worry is that the 8th inning meltdown by Albers is a sign of a future regular script. With Bard as wobbly as a newborn goat the Sox don’t have much in the way of a long reliever and their innings-at-a-time reliever stocks are hurting.

Coming up: Aston Villa vs Liverpool at Villa Park – Last of the season with the Reds in with a slim hope of European adventures next season.

I care not.

Of interest at the other end of the table 5 teams are fighting not to fill one of 2 remaining relegation spots. Good luck to Wigan, Blackpool (Both on 39 pts), Wolves, Birmingham and Blackburn (All on 40 pts). Kickoffs in around an hour and a half.

Mark Webber is having a Spanish Gran Prix to forget. Alonso and Vettel got him off the line and at last count, just past the halfway mark he was in 5th – A ‘dreadful day in the office’ according to the BBC. Perhaps 40 minutes to go there.

Red Sox vs Cubs tomorrow morning in the series decider at Fenway. Wakefield starting for the Sox.

I’m off to the armchair.

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