Ever since the debut of ESPN in 1979 - or even since sporting events began getting televised in the early 40s - sports have been broadcasted to the public as one of the purest forms of drama and entertainment. While it's true that throughout history sports have always been treated as entertainment, only recently have they begun to become extremely dramatized and commercialized. I don't mean this in a bad way; I love seeing commercials that get me pumped up for the Super Bowl or showing highlights from my favorite sports moments. When a game is good - tense, thrilling, down to the wire - television has the ability to make it that much better. Statistics are whipped out of nowhere, instant replays are shown and shown again, and the announcers set a tone for whatever is about to happen. If you're truly invested, all of these factors can make your heart start to beat faster than an episode of Breaking Bad.
Which brings me to the last week of sports in Boston. Sunday, October 13th 2013 is a day that will live on in every Bostonian's mind. First, the New England Patriots, having lost the previous week to the Cincinnati Bengals, seemed destined to lose in a close game against New Orleans. But with time running out and everything seemingly hopeless, the incredibly clutch, ultra-talented, male model of a man that is Tom Brady threw a last second touchdown to win the game. Cue the fireworks.
Soon after, the Boston Red Sox had their second game in a best of seven series against the Detroit Tigers, playing for the title of American League Champions (the final step before reaching the World Series). The Sox were already down 1 game to 0, and desperately needed a win before leaving Boston to head to Detroit. Their hopes seemed even more grim than that of the Patriots: in the bottom of the 8th inning, they were losing 5-1. However, like most dramas, just when things look bleakest, something comes and pulls you out of the sorrow and despair. That something was David "Big Papi" Ortiz, who's only goal in life seems to be showing people that he knows how to play baseball in October. With the bases loaded and the announcers talking about how he has never hit a home run off of the current Tigers pitcher, he swings at the first pitch and launches it over the right field wall and into the bullpen. Cue the cheers.
The Red Sox went on to not only win that game, but also take a very commanding lead on the series going into the weekend (and back to Boston) currently up 3 games to the Tiger's 2. Both of these games, the Patriots and the Red Sox, while they may not be particularly enjoyable for those who are not fans of the teams, were undeniable the best dramas on television that Sunday evening. You have your underdog stories, your come from behind wins, your heroes, your villains, and your climaxes, both of which happened in spectacular and (not always common in sports) last second fashion. The camera directions, the timing, the now infamous policeman in the bullpen that celebrated Ortiz's home run before helping a hurt Tori Hunter to get up, all of this creates an atmosphere that even Vince Gilligan couldn't create. It's all extremely real, but presented in a way brings the viewer much closer to the action than if they were just a spectator at the game.
I've been in Canada for almost two days now, and I fully expected to not hear any news of American baseball until I returned at the end of the weekend. I was very wrong. The power of sports is so strong that no matter where you are, whether you understand the game or care about a team or anything like that, you can still find yourself getting dragged into the spectacle. I visited a random sports bar last night in the Chinatown section of Montreal at 1 in the morning, and ended up watching highlights from the Thursday night football game and - to my extremely pleasant surprise - a recap of the last Red Sox baseball game. The play by play may have been in French, but the thing that matters most - the game - was universal, as only the best dramas really are.