Red Sox are World Champs? Ho-hum

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I don’t want to be a Debbie-downer, but I really wasn’t all that excited Sunday night when the Red Sox clinched their second World Series title in four years. Say what you will about the team putting up the largest run differential ever in a World Series or a postseason – 99 runs scored to only 46 allowed. That is certainly impressive. And it’s not like Boston breezed by everyone in the playoffs – I know I’m not the only one whose pockets are feeling lighter after Beantown dropped three in a row to Cleveland.

But this wasn’t 2004. Wait, I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t going to be another whiny rant by some smug Boston fan gloating about the hardship of having multiple championship sports franchises, is it? Well, sort of. There’s a little more to it than that. Let me explain. After Seth Smith whiffed at a 2-2 fastball, somewhere in between Joe Buck’s ego-massage and Varitek throttling a convulsing Papelbon, I called up a friend from Boston.

“Is it wrong that watching grown men play a kids’ game makes me so happy?”

“Yeah, that’s pretty cool. It would have been better if they had finished it in Boston, though.”

“True. Who do you think will be MVP?”

“I dunno. Josh Beckett didn’t get enough starts, so I have no clue. Maybe Wally. No … Raymond.”

“Maybe Wally and Raymond could duke it out in a cage match for the MVP trophy.”

“Maybe. Is Papelbon gonna dance now?”

“Beats me … what else is on?”

There’s no way, after Keith Foulke dispatched a weak dribbler from Edgar Renteria for the final out, that I would have entertained the idea of watching anything on TV in 2004 other than post-game celebrations for at least three days. Well, anything other than a Wally vs. Raymond – the Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ mascot – cage match showdown, that is. But now, the only thing I’m truly excited about is watching Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon riverdance during today’s celebration parade.

Ostensibly, there are many similarities between Boston’s 2004 and 2007 postseason journeys. Both years, the team swept the ever-redundant Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, came from behind to win the ALCS in seven games, then proceeded to expose the impotency of the National League by sweeping the World Series. In truth, there are only two differences between then and now. First, three years ago the Sox made an unprecedented four-game comeback against their arch-rival in the ALCS. Second, they hadn’t won it all in 86 years. As any Boston fan will tell you, those two dramatic elements made a huge difference in how they felt about the outcome.

In essence, what those two points boil down to is one simple fact: The Red Sox weren’t expected to win in 2004 but they were in 2007. That is, winning wasn’t nearly as important in 2004 as the fact that winning was such a surprise. The 86 years of suffering and torment, ironically enough, accounted for most of the joy that came when the albatross was heaved off the franchise’s neck in 2004.

Well, now the Beantown Boys have done it twice in a four-year span. Oddly enough, I’ve never been more disinterested in the game. October is no longer a desolate abyss of sorrow in New England. I’ve become acclimated to that, and in the process, I’ve been desensitized to winning. Don’t get me wrong – it feels better than the alternative. There are plenty of people who will continue to be ecstatic with every title – it’s not like we’re rolling in them – regardless of the history. Maybe it’s kind of like a puzzle. Now that all the pieces have been put together, and everything is accomplished, I’m no longer as fascinated by it as I was before.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m glad we lost all those years.

Ben Singer ’09 does not support or know anything about mascot cage matches.

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