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Day 12: The Origins of Our Affiliations

August 20, 2010

The history of competition between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim has been somewhat lopsided.  Playoff series have been controlled by Boston until last year, when the Angels finally cleared the hurdle.  The road to each of the Red Sox’ modern postseason marches has led through Angel Stadium: Dave Henderson in ’86, the 3-game ALDS sweep ending with David Ortiz’ walk-off homer over the Monster in ’04, and another sweep in ’07, capped by 7 innings of shutout pitching by Curt Schilling.

The series tends to draw eye rolls from folks in New England because of what following the games entails: late weeknights that don’t end until approximately 1am.  For folks on the East Coast, the regular season brings one or two stretches where you undergo nearly two weeks of sleep deprivation in order to stay on top of the “West Coast Swing.”  Heaven forbid the game go to extra innings in the post-season; if you doze off or bow out before it ends, you’ll hear all about it from those who earned the badge of honor usually reserved for those who endure the annual quintuple overtime Stanley Cup Playoff game.

Here on the left side of the country, the Angels’ return trip out East is an after-school special.  By the time you’re done with work, the game’s in its final stages.  The broadcasters are completing their narrative and you’ll be done with the game before dinner.  You’re left with the sense of “What do I do NOW?” with about five hours before you call it a night.  You’re glad you didn’t have to wait for the result, but you don’t feel completely emotionally invested in the outcome.

I attended Boston’s Northeastern University and earned a BA in Communication Studies; my concentration was Radio and Television.  The degree program itself was satisfactory, but the real worth of the degree came through my involvement with the student radio station, WRBB, helping to lead to a three year stretch as a producer at WEEI, the top-billing sports talk radio station in the country.  The team held the broadcast rights for the Boston Red Sox and I assisted with the production of their games during the second half of my college career.  Combined with the University’s proximity to Fenway Park and the tenure of radio broadcaster Joe Castiglione as a guest lecturer for a Sports Broadcasting class, I adopted the Red Sox as a favorite American League team.  The team’s aversion to the Yankees (my hometown villains as a young Mets fan) as well as the region’s passion for the team was contagious.  My senior year dorm overlooked Fenway Park to the point where you could see the video board and fly balls from our 16th floor windows.  It was through this connection with WEEI and the Red Sox that I was able to work as a correspondent briefly for Sky Sports UK and Melbourne’s 3AW Radio during the 2004 World Series.  My experience would prove essential in landing a broadcasting job post-graduation and my connection with the team, the fans, and the people who covered them carried through my post-collegiate life.

When I met my wife, one of our first conversations centered around baseball.  I was curious as to the dividing lines and demographics in the area, about 2 hours away from the L.A. area.  Melissa mentioned that she was an Angels fan.  She aligned herself that way as a connection to her grandfather, Hollis, who adopted the team upon their inception to Major League Baseball.  He lived long enough to see the Angels win the Series in 2002 and she was able to enjoy that moment with him.

In 2006, we attended our first Sox/Angels game in Anaheim.  It was my first experience with the “late arriving crowd” thanks to notorious rush-hour traffic.  Our seats were two rows off the right field wall, about 15 seats fair of the foul pole.  The dilution of fans was clearly 50/50, especially in the bleachers.  Melissa grabbed a t-shirt from the cannon.  Poetically, the Angels picked up the win.

Admittedly, Melissa’s level of interest in sports is tangentially connected to my passion.  These series, though, bring out the most heated interest and discussion centered on sport in our household.  Our affiliations are a part of how we got here; the results of the games are often inconsequential.  They’re a chance to reflect back on the people we were when we first met.



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