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Buck up, Bostonians

September 27, 2011

“I never seen you looking so bad my funky one
You tell me that your superfine mind has come undone.”
– Steely Dan, “Any Major Dude Will Tell You”

You may have heard that the Boston Red Sox led the American League wild card by nine games at the start of September, and are now tied with the Tampa Bay Rays. That much is true – and any major Red Sox fan will tell you.

Crawford Heilman Heyward

The 2011 Red Sox and Braves are steamrolling towards a 2007 Mets-like fate.

You may have also heard that the team that used to be from Boston, the Atlanta Braves, led the National League wild card by 10.5 games in late August, and now only lead by one. That much is also true, but there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much panic surrounding this collapse as the one up in Beantown. Maybe it’s because I’m not friends with too many (any?) Braves fans; maybe it’s just because Bostonians have such high expectations for their team every year that they don’t know what to do with themselves.

I will grant Red Sox fans that they rightfully expected a lot from this year’s team. Signing Carl Crawford and trading for Adrian Gonzalez while the Yankees merely resigned Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. Oh, and I guess they got Rafael Soriano, too. Early season struggles prompted premature cries of “woe is me” from Boston fans; then the team started to play like it oughta and that bandwagon was barreling through New England once more. Then came September, in which the Sox have gone all of 6-19.

Well, pony up, Sox fans, because it’s time to start rooting for your team again.

Welcome to the life of a 2007 Mets fan, my Boston friends. There are still two games left in the season for you to right your ship and allow us to keep the title of the greatest collapse in baseball history; though I can guarantee you that no matter what happens, that ’07 Metspocalypse will forever hold the title for most devastating.

To refresh your memory, after a heartbreaking 2006 NLCS, the 2007 Mets were leading the division – not the Wild Card, the division – by 7.5 games with 17 to play. The Mets fell into a tie with Philadelphia going into the season’s last three games, and after losing game one to the Marlins to fall a game out of first, there was little reason to be optimistic.

But then I realized that there was no point being down in the dumps about it: after all, Mets fans were pretty down in the dumps about things through the first five outs of the tenth inning in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Remember, Sox fans?

So I cheered. Two hours before game time, I sat in my room in Pittsburgh, wearing five Mets hats at once, blasting “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “The Final Countdown” and every other eighties pump-up tune you could think of (and, of course, watching the 1986 “Let’s Go Mets” music video). Then I listened as John Maine went to work, subconsciously rocking back and forth in my chair, not stopping until he gave up his first hit 7.2 innings and 14 strikeouts later. The Mets won 14-0 to get right back into a tie with the Phillies and my calves were killing me.

I did it again the next day, with even more reason to be excited. Then Tom Glavine did what he did, and I can never again listen to “Sweet Child o’ Mine.”

But I digress. That penultimate game was magical, and Bostonians, you’d better start hoping for some of that midseason magic that carried the Sox this far. Take it from us Mets fans – watching a defeated team is no fun. You’d better hope Terry Francona’s firing that team up, and you’d better get fired up too. The Red Sox are still a very good team, and if they can get through the end of the season with a playoff berth in tow, then who knows that that rejuvenation could provide for the postseason?

But if you spend the next two days like you’ve spent the last fortnight, brooding and crying, “the Sox don’t even deserve to make the playoffs anymore,” then what’ll you do? It’s a lot more fun to get excited, and if you’re a true fan, you will get excited. The Red Sox are 89-71. The Rays are 89-71. This ain’t the ’08 Super Bowl – there are two games left. Even if you lose one of ’em, there’s still a chance.

Don’t be bandwagon buffoons. Do you love your team, or don’t you? There’s a reason you call yourself a fan, and it’s because you love your team even when they put you through the wringer. Don’t just tell me it’s time to start rooting for the Patriots. How ironic that name is – for a fan base that dubs itself “Red Sox Nation,” I don’t see too many patriots right now. It’s time to stop asking what your team can do for you, and start asking what you can do for your team. Rooting for a winner and abandoning them when they falter is weak-minded. Get excited. Sure, that means being all the more devastated if things don’t work out. But if they do, then you can be that much prouder that you stuck by your team till the end. You’re a real fan either way.

Buck up, Bostonians. Show me something.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Big Mac Daddy permalink
    September 28, 2011 11:35 am

    Beautifully written piece. Painful to have to relive the last day of the 2007 season, although I was at the penultimate game – the highlight of John Maine’s career. And the penultimate game of 2008 was the highlight of Johann’s Mets career.

    • September 28, 2011 5:43 pm

      Thanks, man. Glad you liked it. I’m 100% with you – it’s tough reliving those heartbreaking days, but as a Mets fan, it’s tough not to see parallels to what’s going on now. As I mentioned in my article, though, I don’t think either collapse, while quantitatively greater than that of the ’07 Mets, could come close to being as devastating.

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