Red Sox fandom is a funny thing. When your identity is heartbreak, and you finally get the girl and become prom king, it leads to a weird sensation of waning sympathy.
Oh? You blew a 9-game lead in one month because you stopped being rag tag lovable losers and instead became silver spoon-fed chicken-eaters who forgot from where you came? The collective tongue-in-cheek cries of ‘cry me a river’ were about as authentic as Justin Timberlake’s agony of trading in Britney Spears for Jessica Biel.
The pink hats that represented a nation’s crown became icons of our false idolatry, and along with an over-produced line of faux-tradition steeped around Fenway Park, the Sox’s good will and strong results of a decade vanished in a delightful poof of comeuppance and the worst season in 47 years.
Better to have loved and lost, or something like that, and boy did we lose.
April is here, and that means I’m back outside your Lansdowne doorstep, doomed to be Lloyd Dobbler for most of eternity. Day 1 has offered promise that a new day is here, yet still, I must ask: Will this be the year when you restore the hearts of those once impervious to tragic romance?
I will admit – I’m horrible at giving, or at least following, dating advice. But I do love the game. Baseball has my heart, and no abusive lover could ever turn me astray.
I was only flirting with that National League team. I still wore your colors on my heart. I never loved them. I reminded everyone of how you were when you changed my life, of the boy you made a man.
It was the game I loved. Not them.
But it was the sideshow to the game that has started to drive the stake through the once unbreakable souls of New England. It was $30 asses in bleacher seats that could keep the ticker going on a sell-out record that means squat. It was the forced exit of the architect and his building manager when, perhaps, it was the over spending on gold-plated fixtures with elbow problems that caused an oversight of the collapsing foundation.
Maybe 18 months too late, but the 2013 Boston Red Sox are addressing the leaky supports that caused the September 2011 debacle and fall out. They’ll rely on some retreading with the resources that built that first tower of success in 86 years. They will charge you $5 for a beer because they know that a fake streak is ending anyway and maybe, just maybe, we can wear sweatpants together and be comfortable again.
I’m a sucker, I’ll fall for it. 2013 Boston Red Sox: I will love you, not because of these efforts, but because that is how my heart works, and that there’s still just something left to hang on to. I will regale you with stories of before you let the popularity get to your head, when we went through Bill Buckner’s legs together, when Pedro was kept in too long and when Dan F’n Johnson sent us into this spiral four Octobers ago. We’ll look fondly together at the younglings roaming the Fenway grass, hoping Iglesias is the hero we need, that somewhere from Pawtucket a legend may rise, that Jackie Bradley is all that and a bag of potato chips. I will believe that Will Middlebrooks deserves to be the new face of a team that’s only remaining icons are an AARP-carrying DH of Destiny and a muddy second baseman with a penchant for soundbites.
For the first time in years, these are where my expectations stop. You can have my heart but you can’t have my spirit quite yet. You need to show me you’ve changed and that I can love the new you as much as the one who’s late October memories still cloud my nostalgia.
Together, perhaps we can dare to be great. That’s all I ask.