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Buck up, Bostonians

September 26, 2011

“I never seen you looking so bad my funky one
You tell me that your superfine mind has come undone.”
– Steely Dan, “Any Major Dude Will Tell You”

You may have heard that the Boston Red Sox led the American League Wild Card by nine games at the start of September, and are now tied with the Tampa Bay Rays. That much is true – and any major Red Sox fan will tell you.

Crawford Heilman Heyward

The 2011 Red Sox and Braves are steamrolling towards a 2007 Mets-like fate.

You may have also heard that the team that used to be from Boston, the Atlanta Braves, led the National League Wild Card by 10.5 games in late August, and now only lead by one. That much is also true, but there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much panic surrounding this collapse as the one up in Beantown. Maybe it’s because I’m not friends with too many (any?) Braves fans; maybe it’s just because Bostonians have such high expectations for their team every year that they don’t know what to do with themselves.

I will grant Red Sox fans that they rightfully expected a lot from this year’s team. Signing Carl Crawford and trading for Adrian Gonzalez while the Yankees merely resigned Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. Oh, and I guess they got Rafael Soriano, too. Early season woes prompted premature cries of “woe is me” from Boston fans; then the team started to play like it oughta and that bandwagon was up and barreling through New England once more. Then there came the late season woes, in which the Sox have gone all of 6-19 in the month of September.

Well, pony up, Sox fans, because it’s time to start rooting for your team again.

“Any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you, my friend,
Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again.
When the demon is at your door,
In the morning it won’t be there no more.”
(Addendum: It might still be there. But you’ve gotta hope it’s not.)

Welcome to the life of a 2007 Mets fan, my Boston friends. There are still two games left in the season for you to right your ship and allow us to keep the title of the greatest collapse in baseball history; though I can guarantee you that no matter what happens, that ’07 Metspocalypse will forever hold the title for most devastating.

To refresh your memory, after a heartbreaking 2006 NLCS, the 2007 Mets were leading the division – not the Wild Card, the division – by 7.5 games with 17 to play. The Mets fell into a tie with Philadelphia going into the season’s last three games, and after losing game one to the Marlins to fall a game out of first, there was little reason to be optimistic.

But then I realized that there was no point being down in the dumps about it: after all, Mets fans were pretty down in the dumps about things through the first five outs of the tenth inning in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Remember, Sox fans?

So I cheered. I got psyched. Blasting “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “The Final Countdown” and every other eighties pump-up tune you could think of, I listened as John Maine threw 7.2 innings of no-hit ball, striking out 14 as the Mets won 14-0 to get right back into a tie with the Marlins.

Then I did it again and Tom Glavine… Well, let’s just say I can never again listen to “Sweet Child o’ Mine.”

But I digress. That penultimate game was magical, and Bostonians, you’d better start hoping for some of that midseason magic that carried the Sox this far. Take it from us Mets fans – watching a defeated team is no fun. You’d better hope Terry Francona’s firing that team up, and you’d better get fired up too. The Red Sox are still a very good team, and if they can get through the end of the season with a playoff berth in tow, then who knows that that rejuvenation could provide for the postseason?

But if you spend the next two days like you’ve spent the last fortnight, brooding, moping, whining and crying, “the Sox don’t even deserve to make the playoffs anymore,” then what’ll you do? It’s a lot more fun to get excited, and if you’re a true fan, you will get excited. The Red Sox are 89-71. The Rays are 89-71. This ain’t the ’08 Super Bowl – there are two games left. Even if you lose one of ’em, there’s still a chance.

“I can tell you all I know, the where to go, the what to do.
You can try to run but you can’t hide from what’s inside of you.”

Don’t be bandwagon buffoons. Don’t just tell me, “well, at least it’s football season now! Go Pats!” Either support your team or don’t, no matter how much they test you. Get excited. Sure, that means getting all the more devastated if things don’t work out. But if they do, then you can be that much prouder that you stuck by your team till the end. You’re a real fan either way.

Buck up, Bostonians. Show me something.

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