People love sports because it’s true reality. It has all the elements of intrigue mixed with human emotions — hate, love, joy, perseverance, drama, heroes, villains, tradition.
You name it and sports encapsulates it in superior human beings. Yes, you read that correctly. Athletes are specimens that are seemingly conceivable, but really aren’t. For example, can you sprint 20+ miles per hour and catch a football while a 200 lb. maniac is trying to destroy your legs? Can you hit a nine-inch ball coming at you 100 mph? Not to mention the fear in your heart knowing the guy just made a bird explode like some kind of Looney Tunes episode?
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A thought for those who get on the “what about our nations intellect, why aren’t they celebrated” bandwagon. The difference between celebrating an athlete and marveling at some intellect is the scientist isn’t talking trash and whipping his lab coat over his like he’s at a Petey Pablo concert when he hits a break through. Our scientist friend’s intellect isn’t measurable. We can’t share in his or her triumphs and we can’t blame them for their failures. The nobility of their work isn’t something to cheer against.
But what is ripe for unprovoked, inexplicable an unnecessary hatred? Sports, which is what brings me to the Red Sox win last night.
It’s not war, as you’ll hear a sizable amount of athletes refer to it as. It is; however, our version of war. It gets down to “I hate them and everything they stand for and the feel the same about us.” We aren’t really a part of the team, but we really aren’t a part of the war either. My taxes fund the war in the same ilk as my expendable income supports the Yankees.
When America wins a war, does the non-veteran get to say they helped America win any more than he or she gets to say they helped their favorite team win the championship? No. You can wear team apparel as much as you can wear military apparel. You’ll get clobbered if you pretend that “authentic” jersey you bought was from your roster spot on your favorite team, just like “The Singing Trooper” got when he wore an “authentic” unify that wasn’t his. My dad is a Marine (there is no “was” with the USMC). He doesn’t wear his uniform because he did not retire. He was honorably discharged and makes that note.
So why am I on my soapbox?
It’s because I don’t want you to judge me when I go all Debbie Downer. I’m writing this in real time, my real feelings as they happen. And I’ll restate it in case you missed it, I’m a Yankees fan. I won’t oversell this World Series and say it compares in any way to 2004. After that collapse, and subsequent Red Sox win streak ending sweep, it felt like the apocalypse was upon me. Whatever I’ve had done bad in my life–and hopefully for my future sins–felt like it should have been absolved in that two-week span.
However, I didn’t know you then and you didn’t know me. Today, as we’ve become friends, I’m here to pour my heart out.
Unless your team has a real rivalry (or a World Series win), there’s no real way to describe a rivalry from a specific fan base perspective. And I know I’m biased, but it’s hard to quantify the real feeling between New York and Boston. The argument can be supported by historic significance. It’s a snake-bitten feeling Boston fans felt for decades, much like the traditional success for the Yankees or this century’s version of a powerhouse franchise in Boston.
I hated Boston up to 2003 because I was supposed to hate them. I loathed the Red Sox and the Red Sox win in 2004 because of their success and they really annoyed me in 2008 because of their personalities. But as you grow and change in life, so does your feelings towards things. I grew to love the city because I’m a history nerd.
My buddy is a Red Sox fan. He grew up outside Boston, loves all things Red Sox and New England. He was kind enough to show me around town a few years back. I had a chance to go to Fenway and experience the city from the Boston perspective. It softens you, or so you think. The collapse two years ago was one of my favorite nights in baseball. I’d jump on a grenade for my friend (Pauly D’s definition of a grenade, not an actual one), but I can’t tell you how much I cackled that night as he was literally in the fetal position for a solid hour before walking to bed with an alcoholic beverage in his hand in complete silence.
It only got better when Boston decided to hire Bobby Valentine.
This is the same guy who caused my grandfather to yell in Spanish like Lucy just ruined his latest big show. The Valentine era was some of my favorite baseball. Finally, America’s crush on the Red Sox was waning. It began with the end of the Francona era. From the lame stories came out about the clubhouse (starting pitchers might be the most selfish athletes in all of sports) to the highlights on ESPN where even David Ortiz wasn’t smiling was like a daily Christmas to me.
Then the cultured shifted with the hiring of John Farrell.
This is a guy who knew what he was doing. A guy the clubhouse trusted and who understood the Red Sox culture. Then, they sign Shane Victorino, a poor man’s Johnny Damon in every way. Personality and playing style, Victorino brought the same feeling Damon gave to that 2004 team, stupid beards and all. It’s only fitting that the clinching game breaks open with Shane-O-Mac’s bases-clearing triple.
Like I said, I can’t explain what I’m feeling. I can only give you a glimpse into the mind of a Yankees fan. The Yankees winning is option 1-10, but a very close 2-10 is the Red Sox being heartbreaking. The Will Middlebrooks play was palpable. It tasted like a home-cooked meal after returning from an odyssey. These last three games are just little reminders of what 2004 felt like.
Remember when I said that we love sports because foe the human emotion and intrigue?
I only said that because I started writing this when the game was 0-0. Now I feel like a guy who just got dumped and his family says “there’s plenty of fish in the sea”. After today, my relationship with the season is over. I’ll need time to heal and I’ll see pictures of this Red Sox win, with fans out partying with their friends while I’m at home crying and wondering what could we have done different to avoid this outcome.
But you know, in a few months a new season will start. And you’ll still be scarred and scared. It will feel like you’re not ready to commit, but in your stomach you’re getting butterflies and you know it feels right. This new season is even funnier and better in every way. Some will dwell on the past season, but you’ve moved on and you couldn’t be happier. There’s always that hope. Unless they repeat in which case I’ll know the apocalypse is near.