From The First Issue of The Cud:
Of Migrant Schizophrenia, Baseball & The Greatest Victory of the Past 86 Years
Evan Kanarakis

For the past two weeks by 10am almost every morning I've been seated on a bar stool in the Cheers Bar on George Street, Sydney. It's not that I'm attempting to make a charge for 'the big leagues' in the alcoholism stakes (though that would perhaps fill up my resume as a 'struggling writer' a little more adequately), but rather, I've been braving the beer-stenched carpet and stale air of a downstairs twenty-four hours sports bar because of my beloved Boston Red Sox baseball team.

I love American sports, but I am especially devoted to all teams New England. Whether it be basketball's Boston Celtics, the NFL champion Patriots, the psychopathic Bruins in the ice hockey or the Red Sox playing baseball, just signal me to the fact that one of their games will be on local television and I'll show you a fool that can manage to stay up through 3am to 8am in Australia just so he can see the Patriots thump all comers on the football field. And yet surely this is an odd condition for a guy who was raised in Bathurst in country New South Wales?

Well, I suppose it is and isn't.

I was born in Athens to a Greek father and an American mother. Immediately then, I was brought into the world as half-Greek, half-American. Unfortunately, when your entire family ups and leaves the Northern Hemisphere and decides to settle in Australia and, of all places, Bathurst (a.k.a 'Home of the Big Race'), things start to get a little more complicated. Upon becoming an Australian citizen a few years later, I became a Greek-American-Australian. Or an Australian-American-Greek. Or was it an American-Greek-Australian? Damn. You see my problem here? By all rights it would completely understandable if one day I finally cracked and you found me lying nude in a vat of olives, singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic and ranting between verses about how "... if ya don't drink beer, ya must be a flamin' dingo!"

Well, we're not there just yet. The fact is though, being a mutt can be very annoying. Three distinct groups of family and friends on three different continents. Three citizenships. Three passports. Hell, three different allegiances. What naturally happened with me, especially where family members were spread throughout the globe, was to try and keep as strong a connection with those various roots as possible. One way is, of course, to make your presence felt, and over the years I've visited Greece and the United States as often as possible. I've kept up my Greek language skills, and I've tried to become as familiar with the city of Boston as possible so I might truly consider it another 'home away from home'. I plied my grandparents for as much information about my heritage and as many family tales as possible. And I followed sports.

Sports gave me something to talk about with the patrons in my grandmother's bar in Peabody, Massachusetts, and sports gave me a free cab fare in Athens a few years ago when I impressed the driver with my knowledge of the AEK football team. Whether offering an explanation of rugby to a red-beret-wearing Guardian Angel on a Boston train or joining a Greek labourer in discussing the prospects of a local basketball team at a café in Piraeus, sports can definitely make you feel a part of the community.

So anyway, the whole point of this rather long-winded spiel about my garbled ethnicity is that over time I didn't just start to support some of these teams, I started to literally obsess about them. My own daily moods rose and fell with the fortunes of the team. If in a typical day Greece lost the soccer in the morning, the NSW Waratahs won the rugby in the evening and the Boston Celtics lost overnight, you might as well hand me a glass of water and a Midol because I'm matching any hormonal woman swing for swing. Which brings me back to the Boston Red Sox and baseball.

I realise this is my very first weekly column for the Cud, and to be honest, I originally had high hopes for what I might be able to offer. Perhaps something on the value of an independent media. Something on the value of rhetoric, or a commentary on one of the more pressing current affairs issues facing Australia today.

But you know what? With enough celebratory beers currently under my belt at three in the afternoon on a sunny Thursday afternoon to hell with the profound and the incisive, because today my beloved Boston Red Sox won the baseball World Series.

I could offer you all sorts of details about the remarkable fashion in which we swept the St. Louis Cardinals in four games. And of the phenomenal comeback against the New York Yankees in the previous playoff series, overcoming a 3-0 game deficit by winning four straight to make the final (something no other baseball team had ever accomplished). I could talk of the larger, historical significance of the Red Sox victory. I could tell you things about an alleged 'Curse of the Bambino', drop names like Pesky, Dent and Buckner. Try to explain to you how much misery this team has endured over the years since last winning a World Series Championship back in 1918 (and yes, you read that correctly 'we hadn't won in 86 years). That there were grown men whose only wish was to see their team win the title once 'just once' in their lifetime that they might finally die in peace. And I could apologise for insisting on using the word 'we' when I never actually faced one single ball in the damn series. But this kind of information, if it hasn't already been repeated ad nauseam, can be offered elsewhere in far better detail by far more qualified journalists and sportswriters than I am.

Instead all I'll offer is this: today I feel a little closer to Massachusetts. As I type, I can almost hear my cousins, aunts and uncles screaming in excitement at their television screens and popping the champagne corks. I'm sure my recently departed grandmother -ever the Red Sox fan- made sure to lend the team a little extra luck this year that they might finally get this much anticipated win. I can see all the old patrons of the Warren Lunch, wherever they might be, toasting this success with gusto. And I can see the city of Boston finally take a deep, satisfying breath as we're liberated of all talk of curses, misfortune and missteps for good.

So to hell with the profound and the incisive and at least for this column, humour me a little, because today I'm all Boston. And with that in mind please excuse me, as I'm starting to itch for another beer at a bar just down the road where twenty drunken Boston ex-pats, backpackers and local converts-to-the-cause are currently roaring in celebration, and it's time for me to go.

Maybe tomorrow I'll check back in with my other two-thirds and see how we're doing in the cricket.

When Evan isn't busy obsessing over the Red Sox, you can check in each month to The Cud for his latest edition of Ezy Reading.

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