The Washington Times-Herald

October 26, 2013

Standing up as a member of Red Sox Nation


The Washington Times-Herald

---- — My name is Todd and I am a Red Sox fan.

For 86 years that is the way Bostonians opened 12-Step meetings.

For years, that particular affliction (being a Red Sox fan) is handed down from generation-to-generation like sickle cell anemia or male-patterned baldness. It wasn’t something people generally picked to be a part of, because if you actually got to choose a baseball team or an affliction, one would choose a team with say 27 world titles?

In spite of 86 years of heartache and discontent, I still was proud of being a Red Sox fan, the same way one would be proud of Davey Crockett at the Alamo or proud of Custer as he was given his final haircut.

Most Red Sox fans even found was to take heartbreak and wear it like a badge of honor, instead of a serious cardiac disability. Tragic tales of pennants lost were penned by men in tweed jackets with patches on their sleeves, while poet laureates waxed about the slings and arrows of bunts and batting averages. Years passed and names like Icarus, Sisyphus and Job were often substituted in classic tales of woe by Enos Slaughter, Bucky Dent and Bill Buckner in tragic Red Sox lore.

Simply put, for 86 years it wasn’t that hard to be Red Sox fan. One just had to expect the worst — the very worst imaginable — like balls going between legs as champagne glasses were being filled, Eephus pitches that still defy the laws of gravity and Aaron Boone’s weak little “Boon Shot” that again left the six primary states that make up Red Sox Nation with results that left souls as cold and unforgiving as shoreline at Bar Harbor.

And then everything changed in 2004.

A scroungy group of outcasts and misanthropes, (along with the help of a couple of Cy Young winners and MVP recipients) armed only with a bloody socks and a manifest destiny, delivered all of New England back to glory. First it was past the great Satan in New York, releasing the ghost of George Herman Ruth to again walk freely through the Fens, and then over the St. Louis, the best team in baseball that year, felling the memory of championships given away in Game 7s many decades before.

For 10 glorious days in October that year, church bells rang, Handel’s Messiah pierced the night and — exactly nine months later — there were maternity wards filled with little Papis, Mannys and baby Perdros.

We, drank, laughed and cried, as no championship could ever satisfy as sweetly (with exception for the 16 NBA titles the Celtics had hoarded, along with the three Super Bowls that lived in Foxboro and multiple Stanley Cups that were paraded around Boston Common, all during the Red Sox championship drought).

And then it happened again in 2007 — before the hangover from 2004 had barley even worn off.

The funny thing was there weren’t any more poets or church bells in 2007. No one was writing any plays or crying at the graves of departed Sox fans (although it was still an awfully good reason to drink). Even when I when to buy my celebratory beverage at the liquor store, my hand drifted right past the Dom Pérignon of 2004 to a nice California Asti costing about $7 a bottle.

My God, how excited can you really be beating the Colorado Rockies? I pondered. Were there even any settlers in Denver in 1918? The Red Sox had become just another team with a couple of recent championship rings, like the Florida Marlins or Carolina Hurricanes — the flavor of the month. In fact, after last year’s last place finish did anyone even care anymore? Maybe Cub fans.

So am I complaining about Red Sox fans’ new view from the top of Mt. Olympus? Maybe a little. After all, Zeus rarely runs the weed eater and I’m always on Apollo about parking in front of my driveway. Gods are funny that way.

But it seems the Red Sox are back, this time without any bloody socks, but with beards that would easily earn them a guest spot on Duck Dynasty.

And again, they face an old nemesis.

Although the deck has been reshuffled since 2007, and the romance may be a little less passionate, there are still a few ghost from 1946 and 1967 left to deal with. After all, neither Teddy Ballgame or Yaz ever got a ring, so I guess this one is for them.

In the words of extra-terrestrial poet Khan Noonan Singh, revenge is a dish best served cold — and it is very cold at Fenway Park in October.

Todd Lancaster often wears a t-shirt with the last name of Yastrzemski on the back of it, the consternation of his fellow coworkers, and Yankee fans. He can be reached at tlancaster@washtimesherald.com.