The Red Sox are going to win the World Serious this year. Oh, haven't you heard? With each passing year, we hear this more and more. The beauty part is the Red Sox are getting better and better every year, so it is not a completely ridiculous boast. There is no doubt that Boston will (deservedly) be picked by many experts to at least make it to the Serious (they just resigned Trot Nixon to a three-year deal). So, something has got to give, no?
They will have to win it one year, won't they? Some Yankee fans bank on the fact that they haven't won it in so long, it means that they'll never get over the hump now. I feel that because it's been so long, they have to turn it around eventually. They have to win it just once, right? Unless you believe in things like curses, of course they do. Tyler Kepner has a good piece in The Times today about the mounting expectations New England has for its first baseball championship since WWI in light of the Patriots second title in three years. The enthusiasm isn't restricted to Boston's often fanatical rooters either. It is now being generated by their owners too:
"We have finished second six years in a row," John Henry, the principal owner, wrote in an e-mail message. "We haven't won a championship in 86 years. Given that we have undoubtedly the most ardent fans in baseball, this is our mandate. We can leave no stone unturned. It's a real-life Arthurian quest. It's an epic saga that plays out over every single day, 365 days a year, in Boston."
A bit of self-importance you say? What would you Yankee fans know about that?
Henry concludes that if and when the Sox win it all:
"There will be the longest celebration in the history of baseball over a Red Sox world championship," Henry wrote. "That is one thing we can be sure of."
I wonder what Chicago fans would have to say about that? I'm sure they would probably roll their eyes and say, 'That's Boston thinking it's better than everyone again.' Are Red Sox fans more special than White Sox fans or Cubbie fans? You tell me. Are they even more special than Yankee fans? Are the Sox a more important team once they've finally won a championship again, or does their carefully constructed myth go, thhhhpppt in the night? I don't think they are better or worse than anyone else. But Sox fans are certainly unique, and display a brand of devotion to their team which may be unrivaled.
Will the celebration in Boston be something memorable if and when the Sox win a championship? There is no question about that. However, some Red Sox fans will try and convince you that their one championship will be more meaningful than all of the Yankees' championships put together. It's a natural enough rationale if you are looking at it from a Red Sox point of view. But tell me, would you rather have watched your team won four times in the last eight years or just once? Will Red Sox fans be satisfied enough after they've won a Serious so that they won't want them to win again the following year?
Still, Red Sox, like their Chicago brethern, will experience something much different than what Yankee fans feel when their team wins. New York fans expect the Yankees to win, while Red Sox fans (and Cubs and White Sox fans) expect their team to lose. When Boston to finally wins it, it will seem like something extraordinary for their fans. Rightfully so. Yankee fans won't be able to relate. The feeling Sox fans will own will be sweet and different from anything Yankee fans know. But to say that it is better (or worse for that matter) is grandiose-thinking at its finest. After all, Sox fans will never know what it is like to feel what Yankee fans do either.
As a Yankee fan I love to hate Boston and root againt them during the year. (They are as easy to hate as I'm sure the Yankees are for Sox fans.) But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'm not curious to witness what a championship would do to Red Sox Nation, and how it would effect the Myth of the Sox as the long-suffering Good Guys. I hope it doesn't happen this year or next year, but if you combine my natural sense of superstition with the fact that the Red Sox are simply a good team, I won't be surprised when it does happen.