Sheehan ’12: Boston’s massacre: the tear party

Sports Columnist
Friday, September 30, 2011

As I sat in the English Alehouse Wednesday night and watched the most horrific collapse in the history of baseball unfold before my eyes, I kept thinking of the dialogue that was going on with the other Red Sox fans present.

“Wait, why aren’t you cheering for the Yankees? We need them to win!”

“We don’t need them to win. We can win this game and then take the play-in in Tampa. I refuse to cheer for the Yankees.”

“You know that they are trying to throw the game, right? They are using every pitcher so Scott Proctor will be the guy who pitches at the end of the game.”

“Whatever, f#*% the Yankees. We’re a better team than this, anyway. Let them throw their game and feel good about it. If we lose, we lose because we couldn’t win games down the stretch and we shouldn’t be in the playoffs anyway.”

For those of you who aren’t aware, the Boston Red Sox completed the worst collapse in baseball history last night, blowing a lead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and losing a playoff spot to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays came back from a 7-0 deficit last night on the back of Evan Longoria, who almost single-handedly willed his team into the postseason. Even this morning, when I think about the bottom-of-the-ninth two-out homer, I can’t get mad at the Rays. They have a bankroll that is one quarter of the size of the Sox’ and one-fifth of the Yankees, but they never gave up and they kept winning.

Now, I was the youngest person in the Alehouse by at least four years. All of my friends had been snatched up by Whiskey Republic, Finnegan’s or the idea of a good night’s sleep. This left me to either watch the game alone, or sit in a bar and high-five 30-somethings.

When Longoria’s game-winning home run cleared that little fence in Tropicana field, the place went nuts, and not in a good way. Every fan had the same reaction.  

I can’t believe they did this again.

Only I left out the “again.” Having only experienced one crushing Red Sox loss in my life (2003 ALCS a.k.a “Wait, who is Aaron Boone?”), I wasn’t a typical old-school Red Sox fan like the others at the bar. Sure, the Sox would mess up sometimes and, yeah, that 2008 ALCS sure would have been nice to win. But we kind of deserved it. Going 7-20 in September? That’s not a playoff team — we quit.

Then I went home and — against my better judgment — went on Facebook to discover a fairly universal celebration of the Sox demise. Indians fans, Cubs fans, Mets fans, Padres fans, even a person from Buffalo who claims not to like baseball. They were all thrilled, not with the fantastic finish the Rays threw on, but with the woeful collapse of the Red Sox.

Joy, pure unbridled joy, was all over my feed.

Now, I’m of the opinion that it’s way worse to have a good team lose in a horrible, dramatic way then to have a team be bad for many years. In cities like Cleveland, Seattle, Minneapolis and Kansas City, the fans receive quite a bit of support in general from the sports world for sticking it out through the tough times. The sports world will always side with the underdogs. We saw it in this year’s Mavs-Heat finals. We saw it in the 2009 Superbowl with the New Orleans Saints. We saw it in Boston as recently as 2004 with the Red Sox.

But the times, they are a-changing. Despite having a smaller population than San Antonio, Jacksonville, Columbus and Charlotte, Boston is considered a large sports market. Some of this can be put on having a monopoly on New England, but Maine and Vermont combined have fewer people living in them than Brooklyn. At a certain point, it has to be at least partially conceded that people in Boston simply care more about their sports. Credit it to long winters and the city’s identity as a distinctly blue-collar town for the past 100 years, but the children of Boston, more often than not, are taught to care about at least one of their teams.

Our generation of Boston sports fans is loathed and despised for how spoiled we have become with our championships. We are caught in a no-man’s land, caught on the fence that divides universal hatred from caring enough to cry when your team is dealt a brutal loss. When you are from New England, you know what the Sox mean to folks. Everyone knows a real, grizzled vet of a Sox fan who sat through Dent, Bucker, Boone and everything else in order to see the championship, and there was respect in that. These men loved their teams and deserved to be happy when they won.

Here we are, the children of a generation that won too much, unable to earn the respect of being “real fans”  in the eyes of our peers, no matter how many 2007 Superbowls or 2003 and 2008 ALCS’s or 2010 Finals game seven losses or 3-0 Stanley Cup playoffs, blown leads or epic season-ending collapses, our generation is the generation of fair-weather fans that are to be loathed. We are the Yankees of every sport now — the Evil Empire everyone roots against.

I’m assuming that the main reaction to these points will be something like “aww, poor baby,” and in fairness, that’s probably exactly what I and all of my fellow Boston sports fans deserve at this juncture. I’ll be up-front: We think the sports world revolves around us. If I were from another city, I would absolutely hate us, too. But just know that as overbearing, obnoxious, unprofessional, loathsome, cocky, arrogant and undeserving as you may find us, we’ll still be wearing the same colors next year. Even if we go 0-162. Because that’s what sports mean in Boston.

So keep that faith, Seattle. Rock on, Minnesota. Stay fly, Cleveland. Get it done, Tampa. Stick by your teams and never give up. Someday, hopefully, everyone will hate you as much as they hate us.

Sam Sheehan ’12 begs you to be indifferent toward us. Except you, Yankees, Lakers, Steelers, Jets and Canadiens fans. You all still suck. Tell him what a cry-baby he is at or follow his whining on Twitter @SamSheehan.