Say it ain’t so, Jorge!

One of the problems with my being a sports fanatic, and not just a casual fan, is the fact that I tend to take things personally.

When the home town team loses, I feel like I lost. When the home town team is on the road and is taunted by the hosting fans, I feel as though they are taunting me.

But the worst part of taking it so much to heart is that I grow attached to most of the players during the long grind of the season. I live with them, and I die with them.

All that leads to the dreadful end-of-the-season house-cleaning my teams routinely take part in.

Ever since I was a pup, I dreaded trade deadlines during the season and then, beginning in 1976 in Major League Baseball and later the other major sports, the post-season free-agency frenzy.

It broke my heart to lose guys like Ken “the Hawk” Harrelson and George “Boomer” Scott (twice), Carlton Fisk, Dennis Eckersley, Rick Burleson, Cedric Maxwell, Paul Pierce, Ty Law, Lawyer Malloy, Willie McGinest, Vince Wilfork, Phil Esposito, Derek Sanderson, and even Bobby Orr. Bobby Orr, of all people!

These were my peeps. They were in my living room every night they put on the Boston (or New England) uniform and stepped out into the limelight.

Yet, I didn’t have a say in their packing their bags and heading for a new home town team.

Each year I have to sweat out who is going to be leaving my “family.”

If there is blame in all this, it goes both ways — with the players and with the owners. Either way, the little people don’t have a choice.

There’s always a nagging feeling in my gut at these times of year, but nothing compared to the feeling I had when our beloved Pope Francis said last week, “I have the feeling that my pontificate will be brief,” he said. “Four or five years. I do not know, or maybe two, three. Well, two have already passed. It’s just a vague feeling.”

Say it ain’t so, Joe! Or should it be, “Say it ain’t so, Jorge!”

I don’t know if Pope Francis’ “feeling” is a premonition from above or a gut feeling or what, but I’m being enveloped by that trade/free agent depression.

He went on to say, “I do not know what it is, but I have the feeling that the Lord put me here for a brief time. But it is just a feeling. So I keep the possibility open.”

I’m not ready to lose Pope Francis as the leader of the world’s Catholics. The world, including non-Catholics, is not ready to lose the hope, humility, happiness, and compassion that oozes from the man.

In my position as a journalist I know I’m supposed to remain impartial and unbiased, but ever since March 13, 2013 when Jorge Mario Bergoglio emerged as pope on the Vatican balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square with an almost deer-in-the-headlights countenance, I knew this was the man for the job.

My heart immediately opened for this meek cardinal from Argentina.

And that heart trumps journalism protocol, and I must declare that Pope Francis is my favorite pontiff. The Bobby Orr of the papacy, if I may be so bold or irreverent.

Two, three, four or even five years is not enough to have Pope Francis as our pope. I pray for a long papacy for this brother of ours, despite his feelings.

I know that God has a plan for all of us, including all of the Successors of St. Peter, and that no matter what happens, it’s for His glory and our good. But please ....!

I don’t want to lose good Pope Francis to retirement, resignation, free agency, a trade or ....

So, I’m asking the great Owner in the sky to do whatever it takes to keep Francis on our team. If he wants to go out for a pizza, I say go for it. I’ll buy!

Yet, God’s will be done. But please ....

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