I chose the Red Sox as my baseball team in my youth, for better or worse, in last place and in first, 'til death do I part. But before last year began, I hated them, the way you hate a loved one who's done something reprehensible.
At the end of 2011 and throughout 2012 they were a bad and grotesquely unlikable team, a group of spoiled brats, joined in 2012 by a prima donna manager who, as former Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan once wrote, has never told a story in which he wasn't the hero.
So as last season began I cringed, because even with a new manager I felt like it would take a few years to get the Sox back to respectability. And then some strange things happened. The Sox began winning again. And out of the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings, they found the inspiration to keep winning.
In May I was able to attend a Red Sox game with my boss and some other coworkers; the Sox, after being comatose the entire game, scored five runs in the bottom of the 9th to beat Cleveland. And I said to myself, "What a game. They'll probably fade in the second half and miss the playoffs, but it's so nice to see them winning again." And then in September they did make the playoffs, and I said to myself, "What a season. They'll lose in the first round, but it's so refreshing to see them relevant again."
And then they won the World Series. Not only that, but THEY WON THE WORLD SERIES ON MY BIRTHDAY!
I don't know what'll happen to the Sox this year. Everything went right for them last year, and so I wouldn't be shocked if the law of averages caught up to them and they end up finishing in fourth place in 2014. But after the Red Sox won the World Series that night, I was lying on my back in the middle of Boylston Street, not far from where the bombings occurred in April -- smiling and quietly relishing the best birthday present I've ever received and looking up at the lights while people around me were jumping on cars, hanging from traffic lights and generally rioting. And something occurred to me. At least for one season, the Sox learned from their mistakes.
And then something else hit me. The last couple of years I've gradually come to terms with a lot of the mistakes I made earlier in life, some of which I'm still paying for. And while I can't go back in time and undo these mistakes, I can learn from them. I've tried to avoid duplicating these mistakes and the last couple of years have gone pretty well for me. I still have some personal goals I need to achieve (more on that soon), but I've rehabilitated my life to a great extent.
Hopefully this good stretch will continue for me. And if it took a shitty Red Sox team to pull an amazing one-season turnaround for me to put my life in perspective, all the better.