A sickness is moving through the Boston area like a fast ball.
It's characterized by the jitters, exhaustion and an upset stomach. The victims can't eat or sleep. Or they overeat and oversleep. Hearts are racing, mouths are dry, ears are ringing.
Diagnose it Bo Sox Fever, the Sox Pox or Fenway Frenzy. As the gripping World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals continues, the Bean Town illness is reaching epidemic proportions.
Even doctors aren't immune.
Dr. Suzanne Koven, a primary care doc who wrote about her own symptoms for the Boston Globe, said that when things get intense during a game, she lies on the couch, filled with anxiety, a blanket pulled tightly over her head.
"Starting with the playoffs I noticed I was feeling exhausted and drained," she said. "My patients and coworkers began reporting similar feelings."
Koven admits she is what diehard Bo Sox fans call a "Pink Hat." This is a not-so-flattering term for someone who doesn't consider the team the center of their existence until they are winning.
Imagine the pain and suffering of a true sports fan, she said.
Actually, science has.
German researchers found that on game days, cardiac emergencies more than tripled for male soccer fans and nearly doubled for female soccer fans. The effect was most pronounced for games that really mattered, such as final matches. Presumably, World Series games can be just as stressful for baseball fans, Koven speculated.
Football lovers are also at greater risk for heart troubles, as a 2010 Journal of Clinical Hypertension study revealed. When researchers measured the blood pressure of baseball and football fans before and after games, they found that gridiron enthusiasts experienced higher spikes in blood pressure during a game compared with baseball devotees.
Football must be a faster, more exciting game than baseball, the researchers concluded. Koven said that no doubt this is because they didn't bear witness to the heart-stopping moment in this series Game 3, when the Cardinals scored the winning run on a wildly controversial obstruction call.
Game stress seems to affect memory as well. One Boston College study found that Yankee fans retained memories of their team's painful loss to the Red Sox at the 2004 American League Championship series in excruciating detail. By comparison, Boston fan's memories were happy but fuzzy.
Not that Boston fans haven't been on the receiving end of their own Field of Nightmares memories. Bill Buckner's error in Game 7 of the 1986 World Series still stuns even Pink Hats like Koven. And "The Curse of the Bambino?" Let's not even go there.