They’re Just Another Good Team Now October 30, 2007Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball.
Tags: New York Yankees, Red Sox
Right after the 2004 American League championship series when the Red Sox did what no team had ever done before and came back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Yankees, I remarked to a Sox fan that if the Red Sox actually won the World Series for the first time since 1918 and broke the curse and overcame the ghosts of Joe Morgan and Bucky Dent and Bill Buckner’s glove and Aaron Boone etc etc etc, they’d no longer be the “Loveable Loser Sox” that every living fan had come to know, but instead just another championship team.
And here we are in 2007, when they have become just that. How many people expected the Sox to build up a lead and find a new creative way to blow it this year? How many people sat back and waited for the inevitable choke, mistake, error, wild pitch, bonehead one-in-a-million play that would once again be the Sox’ undoing and send Boston fans back to their “wait ’til next year” mantra? This time, it was absolutely no one. Everyone expected the Sox to win the World Series, and no one besides die-hard Indians fans expected the Sox to fold so early in the AL championship series.
They are no longer the 20th century Red Sox of my youth, when the very definition of the team was one that would inevitably disappoint and break your heart. I’m a Yankee fan and I STILL can’t watch the replays of the end of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series without cringing, still in disbelief that they blew that game when it was so clearly in the bag. When Grady Little left Pedro Martinez in too long in the deciding 2003 championsip game, I was completely relaxed and serene – I just knew that the Yankees would come back and win because the fates had decided that the Sox were losers. Sure enough, the Sox collapsed and the Yankees beat them again.
But there is a trade off – that special charm that comes with being the perennial optimistic loser is gone. The historical doormat mantle is solely owned by the Cubs at this point. All that symbolized Red Sox frustration and the special status that comes with repeatdly living up to a “curse” has been (no pun intended) swept away.
And now, the off season, when all the players (if we are to believe their 1960s-era baseball cards) pursue hobbies of hunting & fishing. For starters, the Dodgers might be hunting for Joe Torre and possibly Don Mattingly now that the Yankees have hired Joe Girardi, and A-Rod is fishing for petabucks from a team without the pressure to win a World Series ring rammed down his throat daily combined with the long dark shadow cast by his fellow, more at ease superstar half a base over. My guess would be A-Rod signs with the Angels, with their new GM ready to spend spend spend on some other hitter to support Vlad Guerrero after that playoff tanking. Without A-Rod, I’d look for the Yankees to go after Mike Lowell in a huge way. It’s also looking like Hank Steinbrenner wants to be as annoying as daddy circa 30 years ago.
We’ll see where everyone lands by next February after this round of musical chairs. Sigh.
UPDATE: Geesh, that was fast! I go off to have a little dinner & watch last night’s American Masters on Charles Schultz (which was rather somber and depressing, to be honest) and then I come across this, which has Torre and Mattingly going to the Dodgers, and buzzings of Guidry leaving as well. Oy!