The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat!
That mantra, coined by ABC’s Wide World of Sports, has been part of our lexicon for almost half a century. It has seeped from sports into everyday life.
Photo credit: Despair.com
These are the days that try the souls of many baseball fans, especially those here in New England. Our Red Sox have apparently regressed. Forgetting last year’s world championship, they’ve retreated to the status of their previous season.
2012 lingers as a nightmare in Red Sox nation. If you’re a passionate fan, every loss tears at your psyche. It’s personal. Family relationships are jeopardized. Only pets are safe though even they sense there’s trouble in paradise.
It’s been this way all my life. As a teenager, while brooding over abandonment by my beloved Brooklyn Dodgers who left in the dead of night for California, I discovered another kind of agony in other sports. Golf and bowling.
I’ve never been a fan of golf or bowling. So why the agony?
First hand experience is the answer. I caddied for women golfers one forgettable summer. Nocturnal reading of Peyton Place took my mind off some of my link misadventures. I didn’t know much about golf. I lugged the golf bag, dutifully following the women from one hole to another. It seemed strange that they were often hitting their balls into the brushes and bushes when I was on duty.
One lady golfer followed me into the bushes, explaining she wanted to help me find my balls. Later, experienced caddies would explain it to me. That was decades before Tiger Woods putted his way into our national consciousness.
Then there was bowling. When I was 9 or 10, I could give you the lineups — the batting orders — of all 16 major league baseball teams. Those were the days before expansion sullied big league baseball. I could even emulate many of the batting stances.
Bowling? Bowling? Seriously?? I do recall someone named Don Carter on a neighbor’s small black and white television in sports highlights. He was called the Babe Ruth of bowling. I wasn’t impressed.
The summer after my caddy fiasco I found a different way to earn money for baseball games, movies and other essential things. I became a pin setter for the women’s bowling league at our church. I know what you’re thinking. Those were the days of manual pin setting in bowling.
The alley was in the basement of the church. Our Pastor, with a strange smile, gave me some perfunctory lessons in pin setting. He said I should have no problems because I was very agile. I didn’t have a clue.
The first few frames of the first game I worked went smoothly. I was actually pretty fast at retrieving the pins and setting them back in place. I was confident. I’d reset all the pins for the next frame. Kneeling down to tie my shoe, I heard the now familiar sound, then a yell and froze. The ball found its mark but it wasn’t the pin.
The pain took my breath away. When I finally stood up, the ladies were blushing. Our Pastor was smiling.
So much for bowling.