Monday, October 13, 2003

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Why the Red Sox should win it all this year

In my last Red Sox post I confidently predicted a World Series victory this year for Boston's team -- and got an earful from myriad Sox fans convinced I was jinxing them. So, I had silently vowed to stay mum on the subject until the Red Sox actually won.

Well, I'm sticking to that vow -- but I must link and quote others who comment on this topic. First, there's Seth Stevenson's hysterically funny Slate essay explaining why the Red Sox deserve to win the World Series more than the Cubs. It starts as follows:

Dear Casual Baseball Fan,

I don't like you. Casual is for slacks.

It is time for you to pick a postseason team, throw your love behind that team, and live and die with its every pitch … to the point that you get sharp, clenching chest pains when Scott Williamson walks the first two batters in the ninth inning of a one-run game, and you yell, "Damn it!" at a decibel level much higher than you'd intended, and your girlfriend starts getting scared, and now she's looking at you like she's an 8-year-old whose parents are fighting.

Yeah, that's about right (though, to be fair, Williamson was pitching his third straight day on the game in question).

What's really funny, though, is Stevenson's last few grafs:

If the Cubs lost to the Red Sox in the World Series, no doubt Cubs fans would feel awful. At last, got to the gates of heaven and they crashed shut. That's rough. But how would I feel if the Red Sox lost to the Cubs?

I have previously suggested that I feel toward the Yankees as I would toward someone who'd shot and killed my dog. Given this, what would it feel like if the Cubs beat us in the big one? It would feel as though some pleasant, absent-minded guy had accidentally run over my dog in the street and not really noticed, and then clumsily reversed back over the dog as it yelped in its death throes. Then he started whooping and guzzling beer with friends, while still standing over the dog corpse. And all the while he still seems like a really nice guy who was hard to blame or dislike.

Please don't be that guy. Please.

Living in Chicago, there's no way I can entirely endorse Stevenson's amusingly blinkered logic, but to quote Chris Rock, "I understand."

In contrast to either the Cubs or the Red Sox, consider what Jay Drezner has to say about being a Yankees fan:

As I've repeatedly told my brother (a poor Boston Red Sox fan), I don't even pay attention to the regular season anymore with the Yankees. I just wait for the playoffs. When you think about it, that's kind of sad. It used to mean so much to a team to win a pennant....

[T]he repeated victories by the Yankees have become progressively less special. There is nothing like long-term adversity to make victory that much more special, and now I barely pay attention to the Yankees until the ALCS!

Yeah, life really sucks for my brother the Yankee fan.... grumble, grumble.

[C'mon, you're not going to comment on the Game 3 incidents?--ed. No, but I will link to David Pinto and say that even as a Red Sox fan, I agree with most of this statement:

I would suggest what is really bothering people... is that there was a shift of virtue from the Red Sox to the Yankees Saturday. When it was Nettles and Jackson and Rivers against Lynn and Fisk and Lee, it was easy to see the Yankees as the evil team that deserved to be vanquished by the Red Sox. But on Saturday, it was Pedro and Manny who caused the trouble. Here they were in game the Red Sox had to win, and their antics came close to having them thrown out. Up until Zimmer charged Pedro, the Yankees did nothing wrong. Someone watching a baseball game for the first time would come away from Saturday thinking the Red Sox are a bunch of evil jerks and the Yankees were just defending themselves.

Rob Neyer offers a counter to Pinto, but this issue is almost besides the point. The key to this year's Red Sox team has been their ability to overcome the distractions created by Pedro and Manny while exploiting their prodigious talents. As this Providence Journal story indicates, the team realizes this:

"This team is so focused, so positive, you don't see any change from day to day," said [second baseman Todd] Walker, who, in a perfect metaphor for this team's unlikely success, now holds the record for most homers in a single postseason. "That's why we've been able to win so many games the way we have. This team has got a lot of heart."

Then Walker stopped for a second, and in that instant, it was as if he experienced a moment of epiphany.

"I don't know why some people still don't understand that," he said. "But I'll tell you -- we're not going to give up."

My prediction stands.

posted by Dan on 10.13.03 at 05:32 PM


I'm sorry, after game 3, I have decided to "root" for the Yankees. My only wish, that both teams lose in the ALCS can't be fulfilled so I might as well hope that the Bambino's curse afflicts those uncivilized Red Sox...Especially Pedro Martinez.

posted by: Bill S. on 10.13.03 at 05:32 PM [permalink]

As a die-hard yankees fan, I have a difficult time deciding: is a yankees victory over the Sox followed by victory over the cubs, ensuring another century of well-earned hatred, to be preferred?

Or is a red sox victory over the Yankees, followed by a Cubs victory over the Sox, to be preferred, ensuring a still higher level of futility in Red Sox history?

Part of the enjoyment of being a Yankees fan, of course, is the exquisite Schadenfreude of watching Red Sox fans suffer humiliation. It's a tough call as to whether a Yankees loss this year (painful, but hardly irredemable) is an acceptible cost for seeing a still higher level of Red Sox futility...

posted by: p mac on 10.13.03 at 05:32 PM [permalink]

Notice the "die-hard" Yankee fan can't spell. It's true, then, that the illiterate, the felonious and the stupid have always been the fan base for the Yankees.

posted by: IB Bill on 10.13.03 at 05:32 PM [permalink]

You know, the melee during the Yanks/Sox game 3 was tragic because our (RED SOX) team this year is really a bunch of great guys who have bonded under Brady Little and gave just outstanding, record-busting offense performances.

posted by: Mary on 10.13.03 at 05:32 PM [permalink]

My only regret is that Don Zimmer is still alive. How high did he have to be to think he was going to spear Pedro? I mean, really! He may have had a weight advantage, as well as the advantage of numerous Preperation H commercials, but Pedro barely had to move to send Zimmer to the ground, cut his face, and sprain his hip. Imagine what would have happened it Pedro had actually fought back.
What team has won more world series' than anyone but the 26 bought by the stinking rich Yankees?
I know. And they earned every one. And the Yankees stole their players after every one. And they were one of the original 7 teams, which the Yankees were not.

And its not the Red Sox.
But Drezner, I would think that as a gung-ho supporter of the free-market system, you would naturally be a Yankees fan. The best rise to the top, right?

posted by: Empiricist on 10.13.03 at 05:32 PM [permalink]


The A's and the Cardinals each have nine WS titles.

The Red Sox, Reds, Dodgers and Giants are all tied for next with five apiece.

posted by: IB Bill on 10.13.03 at 05:32 PM [permalink]

Only one thing is for sure, out of NY, Chi-town, and Bean-town, at least 2 out 3 of these cities will end up hating the other for ever (or at least moreso in the Boston-NY case). Dont underestimate the depression that will grip Chicago if the Cubs make it to the big show and choke as we secretly fear they will. Our experience with futility has been of a slightly different flavor than Boston's. The cubs have been breathtakingly bad for the better part of the last century, with only the occassional flare of hope that is inevitably dashed closer and closer to the brass ring. I honestly dont know how Cub fans would react to a loss. I wouldn't rule out razing the city to its foundations (again) and mass ritual suicide. Granted burning Boston or NY to the ground would be a more rational act, but hey, we're going to be drunk, and Chicago is closer.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.13.03 at 05:32 PM [permalink]

Thanks for the link! Seems from the comments that Cubs fans seem to think the NLCS is in the bag. Always a dangerous assumption.

posted by: David PInto on 10.13.03 at 05:32 PM [permalink]

How interesting. Here in Georgia the regular season is what we pay attention to. The playoffs are just a kind of exhibition. For the same reason football games played in 100 degree heat don't mean anything, baseball games played in 35 degree sleet before thousands of nasty, sentimental drunks who haven't bathed in weeks don't mean anything.

Pressed to choose, I think I'll root for the one team left that still plays its home games in baseball weather, the Florida Marlins.

posted by: Zathras on 10.13.03 at 05:32 PM [permalink]

Of course, Zathras, "here in Georgia" will only have a regular-season to pay attention to: if Z. is a fan of the Braves, the post-season IS just "an exhibition" - and the Braves exhibit terminal choking almost every year. What, 12 division titles in a row and just one Series to show for it?
(Nothing personal, though: just a depressive Mets fan venting!!)

posted by: Jay C. on 10.13.03 at 05:32 PM [permalink]

Good lord.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 10.13.03 at 05:32 PM [permalink]

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