“You’re watching?” my friend Susan asked.
“I’m watching,” I said. “I had to stop knitting because I’m too nervous. We’re going to win the World Series!”
“I’m so happy for you,” she said. “Even if the Tigers are going to lose.” (At the time, Susan lived in Michigan and knew a lot of Tigers fans.)
Susan was one of the first people I met at college, and the very first girl friend I ever had who cared about baseball. When we arrived at college in 1998, my Cardinals were inching excruciatingly slowly towards the end of a decade long funk that happened to coincide with my entire baseball fandom to that point. Susan’s team, in the AL, was better, winning their division twice in three years, albeit only to get swept out of the first round by the Yankees both times.
You see where this is going. Susan grew up a Rangers fan.
Over the years our friendship has continued, our love of baseball always on the periphery. St. Louis improved, Texas declined, St. Louis declined, Texas improved — in fact in the entirety of our friendship, this is the first year the Cardinals and the Rangers both made the playoffs, much less the World Series. We graduated college, moved East (Susan then moved South, and North, and South again). We went to old Yankee Stadium and CitiField together. We went to Europe together (where, disappointingly, we were a few weeks too late to attend a German professional baseball game). I was rooting hard for the Rangers during last year’s run, and delighted in their first playoff series win almost as much as she did.
It’s not that I don’t want to win the World Series. If the Cardinals somehow put two more wins into their pile of improbable, backs-against-the-wall victories they’ve been accruing for the last two months I will be ecstatic; if they lose, there will be a weekend of moping in my near future. But I will also make that call on the phone, and I will be happy to do it. If you can’t celebrate a World Series with your best friend, what’s the point?
Good luck, Susan. Good luck, Rangers. Go Cards!