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Who needs sleep?

Loyal Sox fans pay later for joy of viewing

Like millions of fans across Red Sox Nation, those gathered at Spirit bar in Cambridge last night shook, screamed, jumped, clapped, cringed, and held their breath with every pitch.

But even as fans cried "unbelievable" and "Oh, my God!" when the Red Sox pulled out another must win against the Yankees, the fans here weren't fooling anyone. Exhausted from two of the longest games in playoff history on Sunday and Monday, they were cheering on pure adrenaline.

"It's like perpetual baseball," said Prabal Chakrabarti, 31, of Cambridge, after jumping for joy. "At night, I've been sitting on my couch, swaying back and forth watching these games. I'm tied to it emotionally. It's in my blood stream. I dream about it. I'm very tired. But one more . . ." Marlowe Schaeffer, 25, of Cambridge, waving her hand in the air after second basemen Mark Bellhorn's decisive home run, said, "I'm kind of drained, but it is the best feeling in the entire world. . . . this is the kind of thing I'm going to tell my children about."

Billy Marsh, 33, of Belmont, wasn't sure he would even live to tell grandchildren about it. "If this keeps up, I won't make 50," he said.

There seemed to be no way around the dilemma Sox fans faced last night.

Those who went to bed early risked missing another dramatic victory and being left out of today's did-you-see-the-game? banter. Those who stayed up again until the end were expecting to awaken exhausted once more.

For true fans, though, there really was no choice, said Jim Dumas, 24, a graduate student from South Boston. Skip the sleep, and grab an espresso for breakfast.

"How do you look at yourself in the morning if you miss David Ortiz?" he asked while sipping a beer last night at the Cask 'N Flagon bar across from Fenway Park before the game. "You're brought up in this world willing to follow the Sox. It's part of the deal," he said.

Tens of thousands of fans followed that rule yesterday, hoping their loyalty to the Sox would, in some cosmic way, help the team overcome a deficit in the American League Championship Series and force a deciding Game 7 in New York tonight.

Mark Linnane, 45, of Quincy, had spent eight hours at Fenway Park on Monday night cheering on the Sox. "You were up, you were down. It was like work," he said. But somehow, he still had enough energy yesterday to drive four hours to the Bronx to watch in person.

For Chris Culkeen, who rises at 4:30 a.m. to host Marblehead radio station WESX's morning program, staying up for the Sox also has been a bit of a chore. But last night, he was camped in front of the TV again.

"Instead of getting a night's sleep, you get a nice long nap and go to work," he said.

Melyssa Belletti, an elementary school teacher in Newton, wasn't going to miss an inning last night. Even if she'd wanted to, she couldn't fall asleep early, not with boisterous fans outside her Commonwealth Avenue apartment.

"On Monday, the game ended about 11. There were people outside the windows still yelling 'Go Sox' at 12:30 a.m.," she said. "How are we supposed to work tomorrow?"

Last night, the cheering continued. Dumas, the graduate student, admitted his schedule allows him to rise later than most 9-to-5'ers. "They can play 18 inning games and I'll watch them," he said. But for most Sox fans, it's been the same routine the next morning, whether the game lasts two, four or 10 hours.

With such long and emotionally-charged games, including last night's nail-biter, it hasn't been easy for many fans to stay focused this week. And there's another game to come.

"Talking to customers, I'd write down the information," said Sox fan Mark McPherson, 38, a sales clerk at Rand Lumber in Rye, N.H. "But I'm actually double-guessing myself and calling them back to verify the information before ordering. I've caught a few mistakes."

"I don't want it to end [but] my body wants it to end," said Eliza Partington, a bartender at the Cask 'N Flagon, who has worked three straight weeks.

During classes yesterday, Anne Marie Braid, a math teacher at Saugus Middle School, took a survey of how many students planned on staying up late again to watch the game. About 85 percent raised their hands.

"I told them I am still giving the quiz," today, she said. "If you're too tired to take it, too bad."

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