The Earth has flipped. Magnetic poles have reversed. What flowed North flows South. What was down is up.
Red Sox fans in Tampa Bay are rooting for the Rays.
They bray when they should boo, cheer at all the wrong times. It's involuntary, a virus. They can't face their baseball card collections, can't look Carl Yastrzemski in the eye.
It's unnatural, says Red Sox/Rays fan Darrell Dodge. "We're bipolar."
Darrell Dodge has a Red Sox banner in his front yard. Bought it after last year's World Series. Never thought about the Rays. "The Rays did not matter." He grew up in Maine. Stuck a transistor radio to his ear. He's 53 now, has lived here 25 years, but New England will always be home. He was in Atlanta Monday night, watching the Rays/Red Sox score on the ESPN ticker tape. The Rays took a lead. "I cheered. I caught myself. I said, 'What am I doing?' " By game's end it was horribly worse. He heard himself say, "I hope the Rays sweep." All Darrell can think to do is buy a new pole — long enough for two banners.
Pat Best's son in Rhode Island called him a traitor on Monday night. Pat is 58. He lives near Tropicana Field. Pat gently explained the facts of life to his son: "It's like I've had two children. The Red Sox were my baby for 38 years. They've finally graduated. They've even earned their master's. Now I have a second child to care for, my baby Rays." Pat's son listened patiently. Then he said: "You're still a traitor."
Russ Buker sat behind the Red Sox dugout when he was 8. His grandmother took him. "All of a sudden there was buzz in the crowd. Grandma cried, 'It's Teddy. It's Teddy.' " Right in front of him, the immortal Ted Williams hit a double. Russ is 60 now. He reached Red Sox Nirvana during the 2004 playoffs when Boston fought back from 0-3 to at last vanquish the Damn Yankees. Russ' quest had ended. He got himself a Rays hat. Tampa Bay's famously arrogant Sox fans helped him through the transition. "They're so obnoxious. They act like — I'd get killed for saying this in Boston — Yankee fans."