Tuesday, September 16, 2003

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (6)

A welcome replenishment of New England optimism

I'm a Boston Red Sox fan -- been so since I started paying attention to baseball. I don't talk about it too much on the blog because, well, I'm a bit ashamed about it. Some of my fellow Red Sox fans have been driven so mad by the team's failures over the years that they've surrendered to the dark side of the force and will run down the team after every minor kerfuffle.

Now, as a Red Sox fan who lives in Chicago, I know about the pain of not winning a World Series for 263 seasons. I watched Bucky f@#%ing Dent hit his home run in 1978; I watched the Mets come back in 1986. I understand the source of the sourness. But I can't condone it.

So it's cheering to read this Boston Globe essay about a new generation of Sox fans:

Hope springs eternal, unless you're burdened with the tormented identity of a Red Sox fan, in which case hope is tempered by history, and you expect to stumble upon a banana peel rather than a pot of gold when you reach the end of the rainbow.

But what about those too young to have been scarred by the heartbreaks of the past? Those for whom Bill Buckner, Bob Gibson, and Bucky Dent are just names in the record books rather than raw reminders of a summer's worth of dreams turned to ashes. As the team enters the final 13 games of the season in a typically nail-biting battle for a postseason berth, are the younger citizens of Red Sox Nation as doom-ridden as their elders? Or can they face the autumn without preparing, down deep, for a Fall?

The answer comes back confidently from 20-year-old Jon Liro in a phrase that sweeps away eons of near misses, might-have-beens, and outright suffering by Sox fans at the hands of a certain team 200 miles to the south. "I kind of tend not to look back," says Liro, a Babson College student from Longmeadow. "I know the history is out there -- a lot of Yankees fans like to bring it up -- but when the Red Sox bring their bats, they may be the best team in the Major Leagues." Ah, youth! Welcome to the generation gap, Red Sox style. Let the baby boomers and senior citizens fret about 85 years of postseason failure; let them bemoan the weekend losses that, heading into last night's game against Tampa Bay, had cut the Sox' lead in the wild-card race to half a game over Seattle. For the apple-cheeked cohort that had not yet come of age when the Sox last reached the World Series in 1986 and who are convinced that this team is special, there is much less reason or room for doubt.

At present, the Red Sox have a decent chance to make the playoffs. Some among the baseball cognoscenti are boldly predicting they'll win it all this year. If that happens (or if either Chicago team wins) I'd be delighted [By "delighted," do you mean naked, drunk and screaming your head off?--ed. Er, yeah, something like that.]

But the rise of New England sports optimists -- those don't bad-mouth the team after they lose two in a row -- that makes me want to wear my Red Sox hat with pride.

posted by Dan on 09.16.03 at 02:49 PM



Finally, a topic I can get passionate about! But seriously, Sox bats will NOT fail this year, Lowe has turned a major corner to qualify him as solid runner-up to Pedro (saw him pitch in Balto two weeks ago--great show). But the reason I know for sure the Sox will be contenders this year? The Boston Archdiocese has finally got out the sackcloth and ashes, so now the almighty can talk Babe into removing the curse.

posted by: Kelli on 09.16.03 at 02:49 PM [permalink]

You should always wear it with pride.

As for Boston's chances this season, it's going to come down to one thing: does the bullpen get hot at the right time? If they do, this could be your year. If they come unglued, better luck next year.

posted by: Joe on 09.16.03 at 02:49 PM [permalink]

Could the young generations' optimism be grounded in Jamesian empiricism? Today, Baseball Prospectus puts the Red Sox' odds of reaching the postseason at 90.4%, based on a rather sophisticated formula.

That the youth may be turning to hard data -- inspired by the principles laid out in Moneyball (principles to which Theo Epstein subscribes) -- may be even more heartening than just their seeming immunity to pessimism.

posted by: Robert Tagorda on 09.16.03 at 02:49 PM [permalink]

Let me be the first to say it: Better luck next year.

posted by: Tom Maguire on 09.16.03 at 02:49 PM [permalink]

It is unfortunate that you choose to root for such a pathetic and disgraceful franchise, Dan.

posted by: Yankees Fan on 09.16.03 at 02:49 PM [permalink]

I hardly ever blog on sports, but sometimes I do a sports weekend. Red Sox fans will remeber these classic games from July 2002, when (spoiler alert) the Yankess twice won 9-8. I actually posted here and here, and it is quite fun (for me, at least) to see it a year later.

It's a bit more of the blog as on-line diary than i normally do, but I thought I would share. (cue evil laugh).

posted by: Tom Maguire on 09.16.03 at 02:49 PM [permalink]

THIS IS THE YEAR BABY!!! I posted a number of things on both my sites this year about the Sox. They have a great team and are doing all the right things to go deep into the playoffs. Keep hope alive!!!

posted by: SageOne on 09.16.03 at 02:49 PM [permalink]

Thanks for sparing us the usual Sox-fan blather about how much Red Sox Nation has suffered. After all, you are surrounded by fans of two teams that have suffered lengthy droughts of their own.

posted by: Jeremy on 09.16.03 at 02:49 PM [permalink]

Well, being a Red Sox fan should at least make Monday night's Giants game a bit easier to handle...

posted by: Al on 09.16.03 at 02:49 PM [permalink]


That was cold, man. Real cold.

Stupid special teams!!!

posted by: Dan on 09.16.03 at 02:49 PM [permalink]

How does one become both a Red Sox fan and a New York Giants fan?

posted by: Hei Lun Chan on 09.16.03 at 02:49 PM [permalink]

Today, Baseball Prospectus puts the Red Sox' odds of reaching the postseason at 90.4%, based on a rather sophisticated formula.

Well then, my slightly less sophisticated formula puts the odds of postseason disaster at 90.3%.

posted by: Tom Maguire on 09.16.03 at 02:49 PM [permalink]

Wow, the Minuteman gives the Red Sox a 1 in 1000 chance of not having a playoff disaster. That's even more optimistic than most Red Sox fans.

posted by: Hei Lun Chan on 09.16.03 at 02:49 PM [permalink]

"It is unfortunate that you choose to root for such a pathetic and disgraceful franchise, Dan."

I'm sorry, did you say something? I'm still basking in the warm glow of game 7, 2001.


Heh, have a nice day.

posted by: Don on 09.16.03 at 02:49 PM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?