Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Why is this day different from all others for Red Sox fans?
So let’s go back in time to, say, the bottom of the 9th of game 4 of the 2004 ALCS… and I told you, my fellow Red Sox fans, that there will a day where the Red Sox would clinch a playoff spot and be in a position to win their 3rd World Series title in 5 years… all the while eliminating the Yankees from post season play all together despite a $200 million payroll.
You would have thought one of two things:
1) The streets of Boston would make Mardi Gras look like a ghost town
2) You were on Bizarro World.
I’m not sure if the great Broadway producer David Merrick was a Red Sox fan or not, but he certainly understands our mentality.
He has the great quote ““It is not enough for me to win. My enemies must lose.””
And I guess that quote as added meaning this morning.
The Red Sox are in the playoffs. They are going to have a chance to defend their World Series title.
My team wins.
Their victory means the Yankees, despite having by far the biggest payroll in baseball, will miss the post season for the first time since the 1994 strike.
My enemy loses.
Sometimes it is hard to determine which is sweeter… a Red Sox win or a Yankee loss. In the end it is always the Sox winning, but the fact that that question can even be asked just shows something is fundamentally flawed in our DNA.
Or maybe it can be expected… after generations of being the Coyote to the Yankee’s Road Runner… that the amount of glee over a Yankee failure would be disproportionate to what would be socially acceptable.
But I’ll admit it… I’ve thought about this day.
Perhaps it was living in New York during the bulk of the Joe Torre years and hearing about class, championships, dignity and how rooting against the Yankees in 2001 was un-American. (Because of course Al Qaeda bankrolled the Arizona Diamondbacks.)
And maybe because during most of that time the Red Sox were flopping around in a Dan Duquette haze… good enough to win games but not good enough to pass the Yankees, that I thought of Jeter doing that 1,000 yard stare and watching the games from his living room.
Anger produces that. Plus the realization that maybe my team WON’T win it ever.
Their pain equaled my pleasure.
So it is a great surprise that this day has arrived without the VJ day glee that we all would have imagined when Rivera starting pitching to Millar during that 9th inning.
It’s been such a foregone conclusion that there was never a knock out punch.
No Gonzalez single.
No groundball to Beckett.
No bloody sock.
Just a lifeless team running out of gas while the Red Sox focus on Tampa and the post season.
I guess this what we have always wanted… bigger fish to fry.
And the Yankees flopping on the dock all summer, save for one post All Star Game burst, haven’t been worth frying.
There is something worth noting, however, about the Red Sox fan and Yankee fan dynamic.
While I felt both fan bases should be friends, they are different in that Red Sox fans obsess over the Yankees in a way the Yankee fan does not.
We’ve had generations of being told over and over about our inferiority that it, well, creates an inferiority complex.
So naturally when the tables are turned, we want to trumpet our superior team as loudly as we can.
What you need to understand about Yankee fans is that while they don’t obsess over the Red Sox, they have a need to feel superior to the Red Sox and their fans.
Thus the “See You in 2090” headline when the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series.
Thus the saddest shirt I ever saw.
Thus calling 2004 a fluke whenever they could.
After 2007, the Yankee fan mantra was the Red Sox and their fans had no class. Even some of my smart Yankee fan friends used this nonsensical refrain.
As if Yankee fans never rubbed anyone’s noses in it.
As if the 19-18 chant, or Boston Sucks had the gentile air of The Age of Innocence.
Well things are starting turn a little…
The Red Sox are going off to World Series defense mode while hardly noticing who they eliminated.
The Yankees go to the links, the owners son complaining about injuries and revenue sharing, all the while rumors of Manny Ramirez heading to the Bronx are already swirling.
Manny would be the 7th member of the 2004 Red Sox to put on Yankee pinstripes.
Sounds like an obsession.
So let’s throw the discussion out to my fellow members of the Nation:
Joy of Sox, did you feel a giddy glee knowing that the Yankees were going off to play golf?
Or Over the Monster. Were you more happy about going back to October and taking care of business?
Admit it Boston Irish, you had some sort of scenario that you imagined the Yankees getting eliminated from post season play!
Surviving Grady is it sweeter that it just sort of happened or would you rather they lost a 1 game playoff to a small market team like the Twins?
Hey Red Sox Chick, do you have a buddy who is a Yankees fan? Did you write him a smug e mail this morning?
Do you care, my pals at the Dirt Dogs, that everyone hates us now?
Either way, it’s pretty great to be the smug defending champion.
I used to get mad at my Yankee friends who were rooting hard in 1999, 2000 and 2001. I thought “How can this be fun for you?”
Now I know.
Man, they must have been having a BLAST!