Sunday, October 31, 2004: Today was supposed to be the day. Game 7 of the 2004 World Series was scheduled for October 31, Halloween night. When I started this diary, I fully anticipated that the long, draining, marvelous journey would end tonight, one way or the other. When I first started out, I perhaps romantically thought that it would come down to a Cubs-Sox matchup. It really never crossed my mind that if the Sox made it this far it would not go the full seven – that is simply the Red Sox way. Instead, here I sit four days after the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series.

So after all of this time, after all of this hoping and wishing and yearning, what does it all mean? How will this change my life, the life of Sox fans everywhere? How will it impact the Red Sox, their place in American sports?

It takes a particular kind of obsessive to write a daily diary about a baseball team. Or to be a member of a chat board devoted to all things Red Sox, as so many are. Or to live and die a little with every pitch, as I always have. And so the answer to these questions is both simple and complicated: On the one hand, obviously a great deal changes, but everything that changes is stuff that we all wanted to change. Red Sox fans love our team, and we have done so for all of our lives unconditionally. That will not change. Ever. But no longer will chants about Bill Buckner or 1918 or Who’s Your Daddy? phase us. Indeed, no longer will most of them reasonably exist. That phase is done. That there was not a curse does not mean that there was not a heavy, heavy burden that each of us carried like a yoke. So in that sense there is relief, and with relief has come release.

Yet at the same time, there has been a perpetuation of a vacuous and stupid myth about Red Sox fans. The myth is that we somehow found our identity in our suffering, that to be a Red Sox fan was to embrace anguish and pain, to revel in painful losses even as we appeared devastated. This is stupid on so many levels that it baffles the imagination. It also presents a two-dimensional view of Red Sox fans. Sportsguy has said this on a number of occasions and I have been saying and writing it for years, but the reality is that all we have wanted as Red Sox fans was the chance to win.

The Boston Red Sox are one of the great, historic, respected franchises in all of sports. Red Sox fans do not need to get their identity from losing. We have maybe the greatest old ballpark in the world in a city teeming with history and significance. We have a roster of all-time greats that few can match. We have had great teams in the past. We have a fan base that is second to none in terms of passion, devotion, and commitment. The Red Sox and their fans never, ever, ever defined themselves as losers. Most of us are also Patriots and Celtics and Bruins fans, and there are very few cities that can match the total number of championships that we have in the four major team sports. The Sox are certainly far and away the team closest to the hearts of New Englanders. There is no doubt about that. But there are not a lot of Red Sox fans of a certain age who were not also fans of the Bird or Cowens or Russell Celtics. The same fans who rooted for Carl Yastrzemski fell in love with Bobby Orr. Kids whose first Red Sox hero was Nomar also love Tom Brady. This idea of Red Sox fans as curmudgeonly losers is stupid because it was always factually, demonstrably wrong. The same fans of the Red Sox are fans of the greatest franchise in the history of the NBA and of the team currently dominating the NFL.

Concomitant with this silly trope was the idea that the Red Sox would become just another franchise if somehow the team climbed the mountain and won the World Series. This has been a favorite of Dan Shaughnessy over the years. But it too is wrong. It is laughable that the Red Sox will become less special or less important now that they have won it all. It is counterintuitive to argue that a World Series win makes the Red Sox just another franchise. The Red Sox are a great, historic, vital franchise that now has won a World Championship and can now reclaim its rightful place alongside the great winning franchises in baseball history. Despite the drought that began in 1918 and ended last Wednesday, the fact remains that the Red Sox have won six World series titles, a number surpassed by only three other franchises, all historic clubs in their own right (Yankees, Cardinals, A’s). and while we are tied at six with the Dodgers, we really should be able to claim seven, since in 1904 the Giants refused to play us in the still-new championship format. These are facts that has been overlooked in all of the blather about 1918.

So what does it all mean for me? Mostly it just makes me really, really happy. As I’ve often said before there is something irrational about being a sports fan. But whatever reason lies behind it, the Red Sox are a team I have followed since as long as I can remember, and for all of that time all I wanted was a World Series title. This year they finally delivered. If others perceive me as being somehow less of a fan because we have won, that is their own problem. But for the next few months I can revel in this. I can buy the t-shirts and hats and World Series programs and pennants and commemorative editions of magazines. I can put the posters on the wall and make sure that everyone back home sends me copies of the Globe.

When it is all said and done, maybe being just another fan of just another team is even ok. Maybe I am just another fan, albeit more knowledgeable and passionate and obsessed than most.

And as another fan, I’ll start asking myself the one question that most fans ask at the end of a season: Do I think they can do it next year?

And the answer will be simple: Yes. I think they can do it AGAIN next year.

Print  •  Email