Wednesday, October 20, 2004

E-mail From Boston 

I have a friend from graduate school who now lives in the Boston area and whom I shall call "Local Color". I e-mailed him today to see what the mood was like there. His reply:

Interesting how I'm hearing from [our graduate school classmates] today (except [our huge Yankee fan classmate, whom I, Stefan, chose not to e-mail today]). Here is what I just wrote to [a classmate]:

> You're right -- it's probably best not to talk extensively until
> tomorrow. The mood around here is better than it was on Sunday, but
> no one is taking anything for granted.
> We're all pretty much zombies anyway.

> ("Must...ridicule...A-Rod...zzzzzz...") Forget the players needing a
> day off -- the fans desperately need a day off. The players are
> likely sleeping until noon in plush hotel rooms. I'm trying to get up
> at 5:30 am to catch a 6:30 train. Is a 3 hour game that starts at 5
> pm too much to ask?

And that pretty much sums it up. People are happy to have stretched the Yankees and driven most of New York to chainsmoking, hope against hope that tonight will bring a win, but aren't yet slipping into the normal masochistic delusional cockiness that Red Sox fans usually fall into before a big game. (One example that irked me last week -- the Herald ran a full-page headline on the back page to the effect of "Bring on the Yanks!" while the Twins were still alive, the point of the accompanying column being that there was no point in winning a World Series if the Sox didn't beat the Yankees first, and thus Boston was to root for the Yankees against the Twins. After 86 years, they decided to start attaching conditions to what defines "breaking the Curse", and heretical pro-Yankee ones at that...)

Almost no one in Boston is assuming anything.

Everyone knows that the Sox usually lose in a game like tonight's. Everyone knows that this "rivalry" is the most one-sided in history. But...

This time, I feel like the pressure is squarely on the Yankees. When was the last time *that* was true? This would be unquestionably the worst choke in sports history. (Yeah, I know it's happened twice in hockey. But who watches hockey? Has anyone even noticed that they're not playing this year?) How will the Yankees deal with that? How will A-Rod deal with the prospect of being called "Slap and Tickle" for the rest of his life? How will Torre and any player without a five year contract deal with the fact that Steinbrenner is sharpening a guillotine in the bowels of Yankee Stadium at this very moment?

All I can say is this -- this Boston team has heart, much of it from transplanted Twins. How can anyone outside of metro New York -- most especially me -- not root for them?

Go Sox.

[Local Color]

P.S. I'm really, really tired.

The thought had occurred to me last night (as it did to Local Color) that if the Red Sox do somehow pull this off, does that mean that Steinbrenner blows this team -- which is still a very good team -- apart? Send Joe Torre and Brian Cashman their merry ways away and return to the high-spending, low-winning ways of the early 90's? Or does he decide to spend $250 million in salary next year?

I don't know if it's good or bad that we're not on the Eastern Seaboard right now. It's like being a political junkie in Wyoming in an election season. Sure there are enough other political junkies to make it interesting, but in the end you can escape it if you want to. But not in DC.

Finally, this poem does indicate why sometimes it's good to be on the West Coast. It's OK, y'all, you can get a good night's sleep Thursday... unless, of course, you need to know who your opponent will be Saturday.

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