I have a new home and I’m finally coming to terms with that. I live in Boston where the Red Sox are king. My Jeter jerseys and my Yankee caps are not welcome here. As each day goes by I am getting a bit more attached to the Red Sox however. Something about watching a team flounder in the city that you live in and watching its fans suffer makes you root for them a little. Don’t get me wrong the Yankees are still my second favorite team but the Sox are moving up a bit(it’s a long road up though). But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the post traumatic stress syndrome caused  by watching the team you love collapse and how gun-shy it can make you.

I arrived in Boston last year at 11:48 PM on September 11. I almost didn’t get to take my train because I couldn’t find my ID. I probably would have given up on the city had I not been treated to the kindness of a stranger who vouched for me. I take things like that as a sign. I exited South Station in the dead of night waved goodbye to the state policemen that treated me to dinner and gazed upon Dewey Square not realizing that in one month exactly I’d go there and find the journey of a life time awaiting me. That is another story all together. That first month was different from the rest of my time in Boston. I wondered around the city each and everyday searching out new adventures. I sat in parks, went to bars, and hung out with the only friend who lived in the city. One day I was walking by Fenway and was given a free ticket to watch a game by a random fan who had an extra. We glided into park to what John Lackey pitch and of course he flubbed away a game that he had well in hand and Red Sox fans went home grumbling about their multi-million dollar paper-weight pitcher. It meant nothing to me however. Because I was a Braves fan and my team had their division well in hand and would never have this happen…. or so I thought.

I hadn’t bothered to try to watch the Braves since I got in town. I figured they’d hold on and I’d catch there play-off games in bars. My September had been hectic as I set up my transition to Boston and when I finally arrived I just didn’t feel like going out of my way to watch mostly meaningless regular season games. Then one day on a whim I checked the standings and the Braves lead had wasted away. I read article after article and check box score after box score trying to determine how this all happened. I couldn’t believe what I saw.

On the final day of the season I was floating around town aimlessly as usual. I couldn’t be bothered to watched the games because I had a bad feeling about my Braves. I wondered onto Newbury Street and a guy with a super nice car and nothing to do was parked and was listening to the Red Sox game. I listened with them and talked all the while jesting with the group about how the Red Sox would lose and miss the play-offs. Of course we all know they did and it happened in the most spectacular of ways. I was there I listened. It was incredible the emotions in that circle of people. In that circle you could find joy, anger, resignation, sadness, surprise, shock, awe, and everything in between. Then I heard it my braves had lost that day too. It was over. That was probably the moment I first started to identify with Red Sox fans.

The off-season was strange for me. I was at the media center of a political protest but I found myself everyday seeing what the Braves would do about their collapse. The answer to that query was essentially nothing. I found this strangely relieving. I felt age had a lot to do with the Braves troubles and I hoped Fredi Gonzalez had learning from his mistakes. So in my days I’d do news interviews, plan marches, and fret eviction and at night I’d think of who we could trade Jurrjens for and pray the Braves got rid of Derek Lowe(which totally happened. In the spring I joined a radio group and started a sports show. I bought the MLB TV package and watched my Braves play pretty well. I cheered the emergence Beachy and mourned his injury. I watched Uggla struggled and wondered if we could get rid of his contract. Ben Sheets was one of my favorite players and his return has made me smile. All the while in the background I saw the city of Boston come to terms with the fact that somewhere along the way they went wrong and changes were needed. September for them was just the beginning of what could be a long journey to a new type of Red Sox.

Its September again and life is way different. I  no longer wonder around the city. I walk with purpose and determination. I have responsibilities now. I do a sports radio show on an internet radio station so sometimes it seems like all I do is watch baseball. The Red Sox never looked like winning their division and the hated Phillies who led my Braves the past year are a sham of a team. The Nationals fill the hole of division rival out of reach and the second wild card gives the Braves an added cushion. Currently they hold the first wild card position with a 3 game led over the same Cardinals that took their position the year before and for the first time in my life I’m afraid for the Braves.

I’ve seen the Braves blow leads before late in the season before but something about last year was different. We had a good team that looked ready to compete and they blew it in a historic sort of way. It put the fear of god in me. Every Braves lose now makes me wonder if it will happen again. This year we have a smaller lead. Uggla is a disaster and McCann who I felt was once the best offensive catcher in baseball is struggling mightily with seemingly little rhyme and reason. It doesn’t help that this year I get to watch it all happen live thanks to my MLB TV package. The wins and loses this year mean so much more to me. As sad as I was when Beachy went down earlier in the year I’m more sad now when I see that Tommy Hanson can’t get it together. Kris Medlen has been lights out this year going 6-0 in seven starts and yet even with the relief that a start like his nine inning, twelve strike out performance where he gave up only an unearned run gives me I still in the back of my mind sit and wait for the wheels to fall off. Its maddening. I am haunted by a collapse I didn’t even get to watch.

But that’s the Journey of a life long fan isn’t. Its loving your team to an unreasonable degree. I often criticize Red Sox fan for taking it for granted that success would come and yet I did the same thing in my youth because of the Braves fifteen straight division titles. I learned my lesson after a few years of near misses and yet the second we look truly competent last year I allowed myself to fall again into complacency. Now I am on the edge of my seat begging for another taste of the post-season fearing that it will be snatched from me again. I suppose that’s why the Red Sox are growing on me. They know what it is to be bad and they know what it is to have it all and falter. I couldn’t tell you whose situation is worst this year to be honest. Part of me envies Red Sox nation and the fact they don’t have to agonize over another collapse. Yet as I listen to fans and broadcasters a like break down the teams failures I know I’m lucky.

Only time will tell if the Braves make the play-offs. Until then I’ll just enjoy Chipper Jones heroics and every win we get along the way. If this team can get hot all at the same time I think we could win the World Series. Especially with Strasburg done for the season. There will be moments I will fear the unknown and there will be moments I loathe the results but all the while I’ll keep sight of the fact its only a game. Besides it could be worse…. I could be a Mets fan.

Alex Ingram is the host of Occupy The Game a sports radio show featured on obr.fm on Monday nights from 7PM EST to 8. He is a former United States Airman,baseball player, an avid OOTP baseball player and blogger.

For more of his candid thoughts and responses to his fans on sports follow his show twitter @occupy_thegame for a more personal varied th0ught stream  check his personal twitter @ingrammi6.

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