I am a lifelong Sox fan, but don’t hate me, I am from New England. I more than did my time watching them lose—especially as a little kid (1986 was agony)—so I could rejoice when they won.
Our region has had so many championships this century—12 (6 Patriots, 4 Red Sox, 1 Celtics and 1 Bruins)—that when the Sox lose now, as they did last night (getting eliminated by the Astros), it’s like, eh, whatever.
In truth, they did way better this year than anybody expected.
For a while last decade, their GM was a college classmate of mine, Ben Cherington, with whom it turns out I share a birthday. I barely knew him in college, but after the Sox won in 2013, I emailed him a short note of congrats, and he wrote back.
My first season following the Sox was 1980—their last with Fred Lynn, Rick Burleson, and Carlton Fisk—when I was six. So I earned my stripes watching them suck and grasp defeat from the jaws of victory on several occasions.
My favorite player was Yaz. Yaz was so cool, with his bare hands rubbing the dirt before an at-bat, and that symmetrical number 8 on his big back. You’ll never see him wear a Sox cap at public appearances. His last game in 1983, he took off the cap and swore never to put one on again—he was tired of fans thinking they owned him. Check it out:
I taught myself to bat lefty because I wanted to be like Yaz. I used to stand out on the deck and imitate all the Sox players’ batting stances in the glass window. Ah, good times.
If you’re not from New England, we’re probably just a bunch of lunatic Massholes to you. But the great baseball writer Peter Gammons explained (I forget where) the pull of Red Sox baseball. Three reasons: One is the geography of New England, an isolated area in the corner of the country with Boston in the center. Two is the long, hard nature of the New England winter, that gets us looking forward to baseball in the spring. And three is the fact that the Sox were historically very good, with some all-time Hall of Fame players (Ted Williams, Yaz, Roger Clemens) while falling agonizingly short of a title (until 2004).
My kids (twin girls) are seven and in second grade where their wonderful teacher is a huge Dodgers fan, and got them excited about Dodgers baseball. It’s been fun to see their enthusiasm, even though they don’t actually care, let alone understand baseball. (“Did the Dodgers score any points?”) The Dodgers will likely get eliminated by Atlanta tonight, with so many key players hurt, but you never know.
My wife thinks it’s all stupid. She’s right!