Well, they did it. The Boston Red Sox won the World Series.
Even after the ALCS, I wasnâ€™t sure this was the year. Well, a Red Sox fan is never confident, but I didnâ€™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 youâ€™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 couldnâ€™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 doesnâ€™t have the same impact. (â€œWe won!â€™ â€œHuh. Good show.â€ â€œBed, then?â€)
There has been a lot of hand-wringing in the sports press (and sour grape-ing in the New York Times) about what the â€œend of the Curseâ€ means for Red Sox nation. The implication is that now that weâ€™ve won, we wonâ€™t know what to do with ourselves. Even Rachel admitted that she was a little conflicted about winning the World Series. Once weâ€™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 letâ€™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 â€œBloody Sockâ€ 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, youâ€™re happy, but not overwhelmed: winning is your due, it is expected. If they lose, youâ€™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 Iâ€™m not worried about rooting for a successful Boston team. I rooted for a (mostly) successful Cardinals team in the 1980â€™s, and those were good times. No, what Iâ€™m worried about what our lost humility will do to us as fans. How are we going to be identified? Weâ€™re not the eternally hopeful, eternally heartbroken group we were until this October. I just hope we donâ€™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. â€œPoo-holes.â€) 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, Iâ€™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 theyâ€™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):
â€œFour months â€˜til pitchers and catchers!â€