Waiting for the Red Sox afternoon game last Saturday, I added to my karma bank account (a line stolen from Absolutely Fabulous creators Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French). Our town has a Buddhist temple drawing visitors from around the world. Looking for the mythical address listed for the temple on the Internet, they arrive on our doorstep, frustrated in a sort of zen way, unable to navigate without cell service or GPS.
To explain the route from our house to the temple takes a while, and last Saturday’s lost souls were actually in a caravan of cars, so I hopped in my car and led them to the temple. They followed me up and up the winding road into the hills, as different from the Himalayas in height and color as possible. Once there, I saw travelers in beautiful silk costumes climbing down from buses, choosing to walk the last yards to the temple, set high into the hillside. My caravan and I bade one another farewell, and I drove off feeling a kindly nod from the universe. While we’ve asked every lost soul to inform the temple administration about the wrong address, it’s never corrected, and I don’t expect it ever will be.
Baseball is a game of karma. I hadn’t thought it was of the “what goes around comes around” sort, but the force of the universe and all of its mysteries. I have been a Boston Red Sox fan for a long time—I know. Further evidence of my bona fides lies in my pedigree: I was born into a Brooklyn Dodgers family.
Take this year. Last night the Red Sox entered the game in the AL first place with ninety-one wins, at four-games over the Yankees with six left to play, and a secured berth postseason. The original ace hired, David Price, played out of the bullpen last night. His replacement, ace pitcher Chris Sale, allowed four homers. Today the Red Sox are only three games ahead of the Yanks. This week the second best pitcher Drew Pomeranz lasted two innings, and last year’s AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello allowed a grand slam in the first inning (Porcello is fighting for third place on the postseason roster. He has a tough game ahead of him tonight). Of the starter defensive and offensive players, the majority are hurt, even the kid, rookie phenom Andy Benintendi.
This is the same Red Sox team that won extra-inning after extra-inning games this month, often in the wee hours, always when exhausted. In a sport where each team plays a relentless schedule of one hundred sixty-two games in six months, the Red Sox seemed to rise above the toll of injuries and exhaustion, until this week.
Is it their karma? Impossible to know, since karma takes into account past existences as well as the current ones. Not the same force that won the World Series for the Red Sox in 2004, the first time in eighty-six years, vanquishing the “Curse of the Bambino.” Perhaps the Red Sox karma is now of the “what goes around comes around” variety, and we’re seeing the payback now, as we did last year in their utter collapse in the first round of the playoffs.
By the way, as of last night, the Yankees clinched home field advantage, and the Los Angeles Dodgers have the best record in Major League Baseball. I’m at the ready to ferry lost worshippers up to the temple. Om.