(Originally published on February 15, 2000, and reposted to the new blog on December 7, 2008)
OK, OK, I’ve talked before about being a Yankee fan in Red Sox Land. It’s tough, let me tell you. I go into the copy shop where I do thousands of dollars in business a year wearing my Yankees cap, and they give me s**t about it. The give me the evil eye in the post office, too. And yet, I see more people wearing Yankee caps both here in Boston and in my travels around the country, than I see of any other hat.
But really, although I was ecstatic, of course, that the Yanks went all the way and won it in ’99… wouldn’t a Red Sox/Mets series have been an incredible sight to behold? A replay of the Bill Buckner series, but without Bill Buckner? (You know that poor sap had to move out of New England because no one would ever let him live it down? Even in New Hampshire he couldn’t pump his own gas without getting booed. And I think I have it tough at the post office…) Even Sox/Braves would have had an age old rivalry to it, the Braves originally being from Boston. (And a Mets/Yanks series would have turned New York upside down!)
The Sox deserve to have their shot at winning it all. This “Curse” business, you have to take it seriously, if only because at the very highest levels of play, it’s the slight mental edge that makes the difference. The Yankees have a winning attitude, and that contributes to them winning more. The Sox, no matter how much the players say they don’t think about the Curse, you know it has to pop up in the back of their minds from time to time.
The Sox are great baseball because there is always drama associated with them. They play in one of the great old parks–though of course there is talk now of building a new stadium, a bigger stadium, which would pull better profits, and allow them to increase the payroll, and pull in more Yankee-killing pitchers, and so on. Maybe a new stadium would break “the Curse” if only for a psychological fresh start. But how can you think about tearing down Fenway Park! Man, it pains me just to think about it.
Then again, they are talking about tearing down Yankee Stadium, too. Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, though, may be the places with the most historic overall baseball significance of any of the old parks.
I tell you, if those two old ballparks go, it will be the end of an era in baseball. The end of an entire age. I suppose it may be inevitable, what with the loss already of Tiger Stadium, and many of the other beloved parks.
But I was talking about why I like the Red Sox. There’s always drama. And my Yankee fandom aside, I like to root for the underdog. And the current Sox are such a likable team. I watched most of the Sox post-season games in ’99, watched them battle through trying to get a crack at the Yankees. And it looked so good, too–they had a winning record against the Yanks in ’99, and hopes were high…
But in the end they were ground up in the Yankees postseason juggernaut (except for Pedro Martinez, who you just gotta love), and a truly, truly incredible story did not come to pass. And hearts were broken everywhere.
And maybe that’s what it takes to be a real Red Sox fan. The strength to carry on despite heartbreak. I don’t think I quite have the constitution to survive Red Sox fandom. But you can be sure I’ve got my eye on them, and I’ll be waiting for that day when they rise above.
(Addendum: And yes, once they eliminated the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS I knew it was their year, finally, and rooted for them!)
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