Circular Theory

‘Toine is back! I don’t think this is the time for my “AC’s feelings on basketball” blog, but I should at least mention that I don’t care about basketball. In October of 2003, Danny Ainge traded Antoine Walker to Dallas for some other players and maybe some draft picks or cash. Who knows? Anyway, while listening to WEEI this afternoon one of the substitute hosts for the “Dale Arnold Show” (possibly more on this later) said by far the most interesting thing I’ve ever heard on sports talk radio. This is a paraphrasation of the quotation, but… “If Danny Ainge hadn’t traded Antoine a year and a half ago, he wouldn’t have been in the position to make this trade today.” The context of the discussion let me know that what he meant was that without the players he got for Walker a year and a half ago, he wouldn’t have been in the position to pick up an impact player for the playoff drive. The obvious point, though is that if Ainge hadn’t traded Antoine he wouldn’t need him as an impact player because he would have already been there. Which wouldn’t have made him an impact player, but a current player. Walker wouldn’t be a big midseason boost, but maybe if he had been there all season, they’d have won more games?

AC Basketball Talk Episode One over and out.

Circular Theory

What part of “Due by noon on Tuesday” don’t you understand?

I hadn’t planned on being so prolific today, but something about the first post of the year and this head cold gave me seven billion ideas.

This being just one of them:

I’m not sure, and I don’t mean to sound like I have a higher than average sense of personal responsibility, but is it possible that one of the reasons that most Americans seem to have a completely unrealistic sense of, well, reality is that since they were younger someone has always bailed them out?

I’m sure I sound like a schill for conglomerates, but this is just ridiculous. Most of my generation, and possibly the one before it has grown up with the solid understanding, that there will always be someone there for them. While this is reassuring, it has made us into a country of irresponsible chumps. When we were chastised in school, there was a parent defending us and now, when we can’t return our movies, who comes running, but the beautiful state of NJ.

Blockbuster has made a big deal recently of canceling their late fees. It appears that NJ believes its citizens have been wronged by this seemingly in-good-faith act by Blockbuster. In reality, I believe Blockbuster was acting more in their own interests than the customers, they crunched the numbers and realized they’d retain more customers and even regain lost customers if they changed their late policy. That doesn’t change the fact that you should be able to return a video on time, or at least ask what happens if you don’t. I’ve returned movies late, and I always feel like a dolt for having to pay a late fee. I’ve never understood why Blockbuster charging late fees was a problem, but even before their recent policy change, they were facing lawsuits. Am I supporting tort reform? Not really, but I definitely don’t support the government sueing companies for charging fees that can a) be easily avoided b) will be explained by a clerk if asked.

(I’m not a good blogger yet because I’m about to say something that I don’t have a link for so just bear with me and take my word for it or google “blockbuster late fees”. Would you have noticed? Probably.) I’ve read that Blockbuster has used the cancelation of late fees to raise their rental prices, at least for video games. This I find abhorrent. Still, there’s no reason to not return your movies on time.

What part of “Due by noon on Tuesday” don’t you understand?

Baseball

Well, they did it. The Boston Red Sox won the World Series.

Even after the ALCS, I wasn’t sure this was the year. Well, a Red Sox fan is never confident, but I didn’t think our pitching could hold down the Cardinals offense. Boy, was I glad to be wrong. Looks like more evidence for the adage that the postseason is all about premier pitching. If you’d told me in advance, I never would have believed that Pujols, Rolen, and Edmonds would have one hit between them.

The World Series was a little anti-climactic after the rush of The Greatest Comeback In Baseball History. Games 1 and 2 were exciting because we seemed to be trying to lose (8 errors?!), but couldn’t. Games 3 and 4 were simply the confident administration of a methodical drubbing. A good move was watching Game 4 down at the local tavern, where we got to drink, shout, and high-five total strangers. Watching a high-stakes sporting event at home on the couch doesn’t have the same impact. (“We won!’ “Huh. Good show.” “Bed, then?”)

There has been a lot of hand-wringing in the sports press (and sour grape-ing in the New York Times) about what the “end of the Curse” means for Red Sox nation. The implication is that now that we’ve won, we won’t know what to do with ourselves. Even Rachel admitted that she was a little conflicted about winning the World Series. Once we’re not Red Sox Nation, bound together by our shared heartbreak, what are we? Just a bunch of people who all happen to root for the same consistently successful team. Like Yankees fans.

(Because let’s face it, for all of our scrappy underdog persona, we have the second-largest payroll in the Major Leagues, and we use it. Exhibit A: Curt “Bloody Sock” Schilling.)

The other day I had the chance to talk to a very nice guy, who happened to be a Yankees fan. I told him my theory that rooting for the Yankees (or any perennially successful team) must be rather unsatisfying. If they win, you’re happy, but not overwhelmed: winning is your due, it is expected. If they lose, you’re stunned and humiliated (see 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004). What was it really like, I asked, to root for a team like the Yankees?

“It’s really, really great,” he replied.

So I’m not worried about rooting for a successful Boston team. I rooted for a (mostly) successful Cardinals team in the 1980’s, and those were good times. No, what I’m worried about what our lost humility will do to us as fans. How are we going to be identified? We’re not the eternally hopeful, eternally heartbroken group we were until this October. I just hope we don’t end up being the most obnoxious fans in the game.

Don’t get me wrong! I am completely thrilled that we not only beat the Yankees after last year’s cataclysm, but that we beat them in historical fashion. My bigoted uncle (see my “Intermarriage” essay) is a huge Yankees fan, and the thought of showing up at his son’s wedding wearing a Red Sox yarmulke fills me with such joy that I’ve actually caught myself rubbing my hands together and cackling. Cackling!

I’m worried, though, because we’ve shown some bad manners even before we had a championship under our belt. When we’re playing the Devil Rays at Tropicana Field, and the Sox fans outnumber the Rays fans, why do I hear the crowd chanting “Yankees Suck?” Even when we’re playing the hated Boys from the Bronx at Fenway, is that really called for? Sure, the Yankees are overpaid and arrogant, and I’m all about rivalry (back in the StL we used to call the Mets “Pond Scum”) but whatever else you want to say about New York, they don’t suck. At least since the late 90’s, they’ve played themselves some baseball.

And the booing. Look, we were all a little bitter about not getting A-Rod at the beginning of the year. (Although, now? Last laugh.) And yeah, he’s a bit of a punk, and has oddly purple lips. But there’s no call to boo him. In the first game of the World Series, did I really hear the Fenway crowd boo Albert Pujols? Who in their right mind would boo Albert Pujols?! (Heh. Heh. “Poo-holes.”) Our lowest moment, though, as a fan base, was during the introductions before Game 1 when the crowd booed third base coach Dale Sveum. People, I know he’s made some bone-headed decisions directing traffic over there, but to boo a coach? In his home park? On national television? At the World Series? After the ovation everyone else got? Shameful.

So we need to cut that out.

Apart from that, though, I’m not worried about life as a fan of the un-cursed Red Sox. Everyone loves a loveable loser, but everyone also loves a winner, and this bunch is so personable that they’re easy to root for. The best sign, naturally, is that I ended this season with the same words that ended last season (although with a grin instead of a sigh):

“Four months ‘til pitchers and catchers!”

Baseball