It is a sad reality that winning sports franchises attract bandwagon fans. Perhaps nowhere has this despicable phenomenon been realized more this decade than with the over-indulgent lust for the now-media-darling Boston Red Sox.
Whenever I hear people complain about the ridiculous amount of Sox love in the media, at the theaters, or in the All-Star voting (come to think of it... actually, Jordan, I think its just you...), I don't have much sympathy. Because, you see, we Red Sox fans climbed an extreme incline to get to where we are today. We paid a steep price. You see, for those of us who didn't just hop on the bandwagon within the last four years -- before the momentous comeback for the ages against the Yankees & the fulfilling sweep against the Cardinals in the Series -- people forget what we were.
We were Red Sox fans.
It was ugly, even though it had its redeeming charm. It was shameful, even though there was some perverted element of honor. It was utterly heartbreaking to be teased, tormented, and trampled upon in the horrific fashion that seemingly only the Red Sox could script. I'm not sure I can offer enough hyperbole to make this point ring true. It was brutal. It was masochistic. It was like passionately rooting to take a sucker punch to the gut.
And that is why my worst nightmare for this coming October would be to see the Red Sox make it to the World Series to face the Chicago Cubs.
Here's the deal. Our franchises had at one point been linked as both being star-crossed. But the meta-narrative wasn't really the same. The Red Sox would come tantalizingly close to glory, only they would quite magnificently snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Cubs, on the other hand, just lost all the time & never gave their fans any hope at all.
So is it better to have loved & lost than to have never loved at all???
Not according to an old college chum of mine named Eric, who (being a life-long Cubs fan) stated definitively that the Cubs' 2003 NLCS Bartman-induced epic collapse was much worse & much more heart-breaking than having never really come close to glory before.
And it got even worse for Cubs fans after that '03 debacle. They watched the Red Sox leave their class of "lovable losers" after the '04 World Series victory -- their first in 86 years. Not only that, but they watched their crosstown rival Chicago White Sox exorcise their own demons by winning the 2005 World Series -- their first in 88 years. And that wasn't the end of it. In 2006, they watched their hated division-rival St. Louis Cardinals come out of nowhere to win their franchise's 10th World Championship. Sadly the bleeding didn't even stop there, because in 2007 the former fraternal Boston Red Sox took a step toward dynasty-hood by winning their 2nd World Series in 4 years.
Honestly, the worst kind of torture is watching everyone else around you be blessed when you're not. Right? Always the bridesmaid; never the bride... that kind of deal. David writes about it in Psalms 22:2-6 -- "Come on, God... You're enthroned as 'The Praise of Israel' ... I've heard about these other Godly people who obeyed you and were blessed! Why not me? Why do I have to run for my life from Saul when I'm trying to do the right thing here?!" That's the gist of David's complaint anyway. And its one of the saddest that there is.
So that is why when I read some so-called "Sox fan" (no doubt a bandwagon-jumping dullard) write on a message board that their dream World Series this year was Sox/Cubs, I almost came unglued. I was so offended that I felt the need to write this diatribe about it. ("Stuff White People Like" entry STILL funny!) Either that person is a sadist, or (more likely) he doesn't understand the grief a Red Sox-induced World Series loss for the Cubs would feel like for long suffering Chicago fans.
Obviously, it would not be pleasant for Red Sox fans if Boston lost a World Series. There is little redeeming value in losing that way. But it would be almost equally joyless to defeat the Cubs to win it all. Because true Red Sox fans know that such a victory would make the transformation complete. We would then BE the New York Yankees: a franchise & fanbase that delighted in trampling less worthy franchises underfoot for the sake of some kind of baseball manifest destiny.
The hype is already there. It is 2008 -- precisely 100 years since the last Cubs World Championship. The Cubs are in first place in their division, and they just traded for an ace pitcher who could take them to the promised land. Poor Cubs fans are already getting set up for the heartbreak to end all heartbreaks.
Please God don't let this happen. Don't let the Cubs & the Red Sox both make the World Series this year. I can't take the pain...
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