Walking across the Quad last night, the chapel bells began to ring. As if a starting gun had been fired, students began a dead sprint to their dorms. Slightly confused, I walked on, until I more fully grasped the significance of the chimes. "It's 8 o'clock! The game is on!" and I began my own dash to my domicile.
Red Sox fever has officially reached Bowdoin College in a big way. Students from inside and outside the region and outside have embraced the Red Sox and their oft futile quest for the World Series championship.
Due to the American League-style games and the two extra-inning games played in the series, the ALCS baseball games are longer than ever. The 14-inning win over the Yankees in Game Five lasted nearly six hours, ending half an hour before the National League Championship Series game of the night ended, despite having started three hours earlier.
The length of these games has allowed little remaining time for coursework. Teachers have responded to the shifted focus by instituting pop quizzes on readings, only to be greeted by blank faces. I suspect that GPA's have fallen precipitously during this time period, a fact attributable in large part to the Red Sox playoff battles with the New York Yankees.
"I'm not doing any work until the Red Sox lose or win it all," said Ben Stranges '05. He hastily reached forward and nervously tapped the wood in front of him, adding, "Here's hoping they win."
Government professor Paul Franco expressed more optimism about the Red Sox' postseason accomplishment. "My impression, personal as it may be, is that the Red Sox run has had a very positive effect on our class. It has reminded us of (Thomas) Paine's support for the underdog and his belief that the world can, indeed, be created anew; it has underlined (Edmund) Burke's emphasis on the importance of tradition; and it has illustrated the way in which support for local baseball teams can reinvigorate democracies. The pathetic way in which Yankee fans on campus have quietly put away their offensive baseball caps is a grim reminder of the omnipresent danger of the tyranny of the majority," Franco said.
Red Sox caps have emerged in record number, prominently and proudly propped on the head of every other scholar on campus. Students, who are in the computer lab presumably writing papers, anxiously watch their computers, staring at their ESPN "GameWatch" screens, waiting for the next development in the game, semi-silently reacting to each change in the score.
Walking across campus, fans, identified by the Boston jersey or cap they are wearing, smile tiredly and comment to each other about the game. Comments such as "great game" or "how 'bout Bellhorn?" have become commonplace across the campus between relative strangers. The Bowdoin "Hello" has been reinstituted.
Along with all the excitement and unity on campus, there is a darker side of this passion, though, which reveals itself among those who do not care about baseball. Many feel left out with their dislike for baseball. Wanting to party on Friday and Saturday night, many were faced with the tough choice of either watching the Red Sox or not going out at all.
"This school just stops when they play," an anonymous out-of-state junior said. "No one was partying last weekend. Everyone was watching baseball."
The Red Sox completed a series victory over the rival Yankees Wednesday night, winning the series 4-3 and the American League Pennant, despite facing elimination before winning a game. They now await the St. Louis Cardinals, the newly-crowned victors of the National League, in a matchup for the World Series Championship. While the ALCS has generated a great deal of buzz, the World Series looks to create just as much, and may impact the campus even more.
"If the Red Sox have won three games, I'm going to Boston for the next game. It doesn't matter what day it is, I'll skip classes. I'll skip work," Mirza Ramic '05 declared. "Boston will be crazy. They may never win again."
Before Boston and Bowdoin can get crazy, though, the Red Sox need to win the World Series. Knock on wood.