What It Means

Ken AshfordRed Sox & Other SportsLeave a Comment

I am by no means a sports nut. And I don’t understand the "fandom" that comes with many sports. Like NASCAR. How can car mechanics even be called a sport, which (I always thought) had something to do with physicality and the indomitable human spirit . . . or something close to that?

No matter. I’m in no position to judge. I am a Red Sox "fan". Or more correctly, a long-suffering Red Sox fan. Everybody raised in New England (as I was) is a Red Sox fan — even those like my sister who has never seen the Red Sox play as much as an inning in her entire life.

Being a Red Sox fan means being for almost winning, or — as some bright person once said — snatching a defeat from the jaws of victory. And for the first time in my life, I am beginning to think that the Red Sox might be unable to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the American League Championship. I may have to accept the fact that — this one time — they were actually victorious over the Yankees (although, like Robb Cordrey of TDS, I still haven’t quite entirely ruled out a Yankees comeback . . . somehow).

I won’t bore you with "the curse". You either know about the Bosox’s 7th game World Series loss in 1967 to the Cardinals . . . or not. Or its extraordinary 6th game win in the 1975 World Series, only to be followed by an excruciating loss in the 7th game, to the Reds (29 years ago today). Or its one game tiebreaker against the Yankees in 1978, where it lost (that Bucky Fuckin’ Dent!). Or the painful 1986 World Series, where the Red Sox were one strike away from winning the World Series, and that awful grounder that (somehow!) went through Buckner’s legs. Or 1999, when the Yankees (again) denied the Red Sox a trip to the World Series. Or 2003, when the Yankees hit a home run in the bottom of the 11th in the 7th game of the AL League Championship.

No, I won’t bore you with "the curse".

But I will tell you this. There are graves, my friends. Graves of my relatives — as well as the forebears of many a New Englander — bearing the remains of once-lively bodies who have done little but wait for a baseball year like this. My grandmother never saw the Red Sox win a World Series — she died in 1977. My mother — as diehard a Red Sox fan as they come — is pushing 70. She knows there aren’t many more chances to see a victory. "What would that be like", I remember her thinking out loud to her kids . . . 30 years ago!!!

What would it be like? The psyche of an entire region of the United States will change overnight with a Red Sox victory.

And I can’t stress this enough: the impact of a Red Sox World Series victory will extend to those who never even watch baseball. New Englanders — all New Englanders — even those who are not Red Sox fans — possess an undercurrent of cynical pessimism which can be directly attributable to the tortured history of the Red Sox. You soak it up like a sponge, whether you pay attention to the Red Sox or not.

The cataclysmic sea change in the social psychology of New England will have far-reaching implications beyond the world of sports — it will effect millions of people politically and culturally. Instead of repeating the well-understood lesson of accepting defeat from an almost-win with grace (like Gore in 2000), millions will taste true victory. Heck, we might even become "faith-based Republicans"!!!

So send some good karma up North and to the East.

Need more incentive? A Red Sox win will stop New England intellectuals like me from pontificating out of our butts about the Red Sox. We simply will have nothing to write about anymore.

Thank you.