The trouble began this time on Sept. 3. The Sox had a 6�-game lead on the Toronto Blue Jays and were at home for the first game of a three-game series against the Oakland A's. The papers called it a "playoff preview." The occasion had long ago been scheduled as Bob Stanley Night to honor a retired relief pitcher who had been talented, but also, alas, associated with some of the more fateful Red Sox moments, including Game 6 in 1986. At home plate, Stanley was given the usual golf cart and trip to Bermuda, and everyone cheered. He was then asked to puncture a beach ball with a rake, a lighthearted task he had done often in the bullpen at Fenway Park. The beach ball this time, however, was a large, inflated facsimile of a baseball with a Red Sox logo on one side. Stanley swung. The ball was deflated. The Red Sox lost three straight to the A's, Rajah Clemens's shoulder began to hurt, and the entire lead was gone in two weeks. The phones have not stopped ringing.
"It has nothing to do with karma, Harry," I tell the men. "Deflating a Red Sox beach ball has no link to anything. Each season, each team is different. Anything can happen."
"There's still hope, Harriet," I tell the women. "The Red Sox are home for the end of the season. Toronto is on the road. The big series with Toronto will be played in Boston. Rajah might even be back. You never know."
I am not paid for my work. I have watched these Red Sox for all of my life. I have witnessed most of the moments that are relived. I figure my experience can dispel some of the worst fears that have been aroused and can be an antidote to the inflammatory rhetoric that is everywhere. I preach reason, moderation, a sense of perspective. I will talk with anyone. I am a rock. I want to help.
It is also kind of lonely here with the covahs pulled ovah my head.