Play-offs More Than Just Baseball by Sharon O’Donnell

The best thing about playoff baseball? Watching it with my college sons when they come home to watch with us. #1 reason for having a huge TV. But I also like to think that my sons return home to watch the games with us for reasons other than a big picture TV; I think that so many of their memories of watching big games were made in our family room over the years that watching a game any other place is just not the same. My husband’s family is originally from the Boston area, so my family members are all avid Red Sox fans.

Prior to 2004 when the Red Sox finally won a World Series after going for 86 years without winning the championship, we were very familiar — unfortunately — with the bitter disappointment of losing the big games year after year but coming tantalizing close. Just one year earlier in 2003 there had been sports devastation when the Yankees beat the Sox in a play off series-ending game with a walk-off home run.

Thus, the 2004 season when Boston finally won was a time to remember. During the Red Sox’ famous run to the World Series title, I wanted my sons to have hope and to not give up when things got tough for the team against the very same Yankees, falling behind 3 games to 0 in the American League Championship Series. I wanted my boys to be optimistic people in general and in sports, particularly in a playoff series as challenging and inspiring as this one was. So when Kevin showed his true ‘glass half empty’ colors during the games, I was determined not to have the boys start thinking the same way.

“I feel like Damon is going to get a home run this time,” I’d say, as he got up to bat. Or “Mueller’s gonna get a double.” And the slide that Dave Roberts made to keep the Sox’s chances alive against the Yankees was phenomenal; I still remember how we all jumped up and down and hugged each other in utter disbelief and euphoria. Odds were against them, but the Sox finally won in a heart-stopping series, leaving us breathless and ecstatic. Memories like that made in our beloved family room do not die easily. Or ever.

So we return to our familiar places on the couch and chairs of our family room for another October play-off season. A wonderful place to be with my sons, especially when the two oldest ones come home from apartments or dorm rooms to be here. And somewhere between innings, I’ve actually had real conversations with my boys. Ahhh . . . October.