– American League Division Playoffs, October 6, 2003, Oakland vs. Boston Red Sox

Is it safe to go home? He’s watching the Red Sox. I enter with caution. It’s quiet. Good sign.
A murmur of broadcast, a flicker of screen, grow from backdrop to presence
as I walk down the hall. Where is he? From stillness a shadow a form.
Dark mountain of husband and focused attention rotates in armchair, engages, “Hello.”

How are they doing?” I peer at the set, at icons and numbers, “One run up in the 5th.”
“It’s torture,” he mutters, flicks over to football, winces, and bravely, gravely returns.
Ah… they’re ahead,” I mention politely. “Not enough,” growls the answer.
Two men on,” I reply. “Up to Manny. Been awful,” and he’s back to the screen.

“You choker!!” he screams to encourage his player. “Home run. What a jerk.”
“Three runs in,” I report. He’s still shouting at Manny, “Stupid grandstanding!
Hotshot at the plate when you should have been running!”
It did go into the bleachers,” I comment. “Brought in three runs.” I love calling the games.

Bottom of the 9th. One-run lead. Pitcher’s fading. First batter walks.
“Take him out!” barks my spouse. “Why is he throwing so low?” I risk asking.
“Helps keep a hit in the infield,” he moans, as dust jumps from a pitch in the dirt.
“Two walks to three batters,” my grim reaper reports.

Take him out!” I plead to the television set. A third walk fills the bases.
“TAKE HIM OUT!!” we both yell. Two outs. Bases loaded. Count 3 & 2.
Will this pitch win the game or let a tying run score?
“One pitch. One lousy strike!” roars my soul mate. “You did this to me in 1986!” he yells.

And a sweet strike sails by the shouldered bat
of the last hitter, the last out, the last game of the playoffs.
More scowling and yelling. “They won,” I remind him.
“It shouldn’t be this hard,” comes the grumpy reply.

Then an effort, a sportsmanlike gesture to please me.
It’s grim, it’s gritty, but he gives me a smile.
Yankees next,” I smile back.