|Thank you, Red Sox! (Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)
One of the difficulties in writing a blog such as mine is how to cover the “bad” times. I’m not Amalie Benjamin. I don’t just report what happened in the game without any commentary on my feelings about it. My feelings come through in everything I write; that’s the benefit of writing a personal blog. But there’s a level of believability that needs to be kept. People won’t keep reading if they don’t think you’re honest in what you write. So if there’s a lousy game or two and I haven’t written something like “Theo should blow up the entire team” some folks wonder if I’m being genuine.
I received an email yesterday from someone who only started reading my blog when I came over to WEEI.com. The gist of it was that he didn’t believe that I don’t get “angry” (his word) when the Red Sox play poorly. He thinks that I purposely put on a happy face just for the sake of NOT upsetting anyone. (His belief seems to be that I write this blog as if the players are reading it. Which made me laugh out loud as I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t be at the top of the reading list for the Red Sox.) This belief encouraged the writer to send me an email saying I should stop writing because nothing I wrote was real. He also suggested I should write more like Dan Shaughnessy because “that’s what people want to read”. (I’d quote the entire email here but it was, in a word, long. I appreciate the feedback as always but I was amazed at how emotional this person became in writing about how upset he was that I don’t get more upset at the Red Sox.)
So I’m going to put this out there in the event that there are more folks reading me who might feel the same way this fella does. It isn’t an act. I absolutely don’t die with every Red Sox loss.
Well, not any more.
There certainly was a time when I did. Hell, there was at least one game in 2004 that I turned off with tears in my eyes from the frustration of my team losing to the Yankees – again! Too many nights, prior to 2004, were spent angry and disappointed (only to be replaced with hope the next day as a new game began). I can’t imagine how much energy I spent fretting over this team and the perceptions folks had not only of them but of the fanbase.
2004 was genuinely life-changing for me. As a life-long Red Sox fan, the moment the words “Red Sox fans have longed to hear it! The Boston Red Sox are world champions!” were uttered (Sadly, I was listening to Fox that night and not Joe Castiglione) everything was different. (Truth be told, the moment Joe Buck said, “The Boston Red Sox have won the Pennant” things started to change.) I don’t think any fanbase in baseball has every been identified so deeply with the team they root for. Sure the Yankees fans pretended they were great just because their team was so dominating and folks smiled at the Cubs fans for being “lovable losers” but the Red Sox fans were vilified for supporting their team. Sox fans were stupid for holding on to a belief (for 86 years) that their team would eventually win. Fans were mocked for having faith that someday the tides would change and the Red Sox would come out on top.
I remember taking my father to Opening Day at Fenway in 2001. On the bus ride into Boston, a man noticed our Sox gear (my dad’s gear has always only consisted of a Red Sox cap) and started razzing my father for supporting such “losers”. My dad is a relatively, even-tempered guy but I almost had to physically separate him from this jerk who kept saying things like “Why not root for a team that wins? You don’t have to be a fan just because they’re the hometown team!”. Now, my father is one of those people who absolutely believes if you have a hometown team then you ROOT for the hometown team. So telling him to root for another team just because his team is losing would be like telling him to give up one of his daughters for a son so he has one of each.
It’s not happening.
So me, my father and thousands upon thousands if not millions of other Red Sox fans had put up with a lifetime of trying to be made to feel insecure, embarrassed or just plain BAD about the team we so deeply supported. And if you’re a strong enough fan that you write a public blog about your team; if you’re a loyal enough fan that you try to find a way to watch or listen to every single game they play; if your team means so much to you that you only plan vacation time in the summer and travel to see them play out of town, well then when this team finally wins what every fan wants their team to win it IS life-changing.
When they won in 2004, the Red Sox made if possible for me to just genuinely enjoy baseball. Because I won’t lie, prior to October 27, 2004, I was one of those fans. Every Red Sox win put me in a good mood and every Red Sox loss put me in a bad one. Granted, Red Sox wins still put me in a good mood but, amazingly enough, the losses don’t have much affect on what kind of day I’ll have. That, coupled with the knowledge that Yankees fans no longer have the power to mock Red Sox fans, has changed what kind of fan and person I am. (In 2007, on my last trip to the old Yankee Stadium I saw a Sox loss. In the train station as we left the game a Yankees fan jumped in my face and screamed “NINETEEN-EIGHTTEEN!” “Dude, really?”, his friend asked. It cracked me up.)
2007 was icing on the cake. Not only did the Sox win in 2004 after 86 years but then they won it again in 2007. This team wasn’t a “fluke” – they are for real. And no amount of Yankees fans yelling “1918” or “26 Rings!” (the chant bellowed in my face when I visited the Bronx in 2005) will EVER change that. So the 2007 team deserves a bit of thanks as well!
The Yankees are in first place and I’m not fixing to jump off the Tobin Bridge. Sure I want them to lose but it’s because I hate them not because I fear them. It’s nice to not worry about the Yankees any more. It’s fun to enjoy the rivalry without feeling like each game could mark the end of the world. But the most fun is knowing how so many Red Sox fans feeling this way absolutely infuriates some Yankees fans. (Okay, SOME parts of the fandom never change. My enemy’s pain is my pleasure!)
I watched yesterday’s game. I watched them not be able to hit the ball and I watched them walk off the field defeated. Then I shut off the television and went on with my day. It was a pleasant day not marred by thoughts of beating up Terry Francona. I didn’t spend the evening wondering if Big Papi will ever crack the Mendoza line or worrying about Ramon Ramirez’ ERA uncharacteristically growing (Oh no! 1.44! The season is OVER!!!!). Sure it stinks that they’ve lost two in a row to a team that was struggling mightily before Friday night but that doesn’t make me think bad thoughts about the team. I’m a huge believer in “tomorrow is another day”. And now tomorrow is today!
If I’m being totally honest, the idea of Jon Lester being our stopper doesn’t fill me with positive vibes. Nonetheless, I’ll be watching the game today (Or at least most of it I hope. Family obligations might pull me away from a good portion of it). I’ll be hoping the team wins and I won’t curl up and die if they lose.
A final note to my email friend and others who think the way he does: If you’re looking for a blog that bashes the Red Sox just because they lose a game or two, you’re at the wrong place. It’s as simple as that.
1:07pm today on NESN and WRKO, folks. Be there. Aloha.