Friday, April 01, 2005

Ventilation at the Nation

Red Sox fans throughout the Nation, or at least throughout my world, are teetering on the edge of a bad fall. For the most part, I'm not speaking of my diminutive counterpart Rob Russell. Then again, he's increasingly guilty with every post, and I hope to nip his culpability in the bud here and now.

We get it. You won the World Series. Let's move on.

I know, there's more to that victory than one snide sentence could possibly acknowledge, but in the end, your team won a major sport title. Oh, yeah, swept it. And before that, they came back from a brink no team before had witnessed and lived to tell the tale. Uh huh. And in doing so, they ended an excruciatingly painful, seemingly interminable drought. Gotcha. Again . . . let's move on.

The rest of us are psyched for you, or at least we were. I can't speak for everyone, but even I, the deranged Mets fan, was pulling for you guys down the stretch, and I was really pleased to see your long-awaited thrill. Many others felt the same way – outside of St. Louis, and maybe Wrigleyville, and of course the Bronx (and everywhere the Yankwagon travels). But you've taken that initial worldwide interest in your frenzied, relieved, tears-of-joy status and rubbed our faces in it like a rapidly rotting sock.

We gave you as much leeway on this as we'll give any fans of opposing teams. Ever. We marveled at your celebrations and grown-men hugs and sobs and diary entries with interest, amusement, and – I'll say it – jealousy of your elation. Most of us will never know that degree of heavenly rush simply because we won't have to suffer for that long – for anything. And that's not all bad for us – the best leaks I've ever taken came on boozy road trips that culminated in a sprint to the restroom (or just any place outside of the car, discreet or otherwise), but I'm not really sure the euphoria of the release was quite worth the agony of mile posts 42 through 58, plus the long-term bladder damage. Anyway, what we might've looked over your shoulder at with mild envy has changed. What began as something that was universally cool despite moments of being idiotic, childish (to a fault), dorky, melodramatic, oddly effeminate, and extremely hyperbolic has now become tedious, annoying, even obnoxious. And not in the good way.

We tolerated, even enjoyed, the first wave of the Win It For . . . SOSH thread. By now, though, it's a tired subject. If it has become your Bible, fine. Just keep it to yourself. Jews and Muslims don't want the Christian Bible forced upon them, and likewise, while we acknowledge that this document means a lot to you, we're not members of the same congregation, so simply hand us your propaganda and don't go Jehovah's Witness on us. (You think this religious imagery is a bit much? Rob refused to put a link on SOSH to my Win It For parody because: “That thread is sacrosanct – it'd be like me making fun of the Pope. 'Hey, nice hat!'”)

We outside the Nation also initially chuckled at how many people have cashed in on this supposedly sacred event. Now it's just irritating. One book on the 2004 Red Sox, two books on it, 37 books on it, 11 DVD's, and now a badly adapted movie from a brilliant book . . . about English soccer. We're still waiting for 86 Years, 1 At-Bat: The Pokey Reese 2004 World Series Biography, Kevin Millar's book of inspirational quotes, and the CD featuring soundbytes from various Sox fans' living rooms as they shrieked with glee and burst into tears after Game 4 was closed out.

And to those who might argue that this is your once-in-a-lifetime moment, so quit raining on your parade, I'd counter that this is my point exactly. It's your moment, so quit heralding it in public for all the world to see. On TV, on the radio, in print, online, at the water cooler, it's everywhere – and formerly fresh revelry has nearly decayed into smug smarminess of someone who knows they won something. The latest and saddest evidence of this comes in the Sports Guy's article on's Page 2 today, a “memo to Cubs fans” giving “lessons” and “advice” like be upbeat, be superstitiously wacky, don't believe in curses, and hey, it's all worth it when you win it. Go get 'em, tiger. We're all pulling for you. Oh, please. Stop patronizing them, you wanker, they need your pity like they need another free-swinger in their line-up. If there has ever been a bigger gloat wrapped in sympathy's clothing, I've not seen it. Were I a Cubs fan, I'd tell Mr. Simmons, “Hey Sports Guy . . . you can take your pep talk and your trophy and shove 'em straight up your ass! And another thing – just wait ‘til next year!”

Just stop it. Let’s move on.

Yep, as defending champs, you aren't factually incorrect when you constantly refer to the outcome of last season, and your thinly veiled tootings of your own horn are founded in truth, but what you're still too drunk on merriment to see is what you have become this offseason.

Yankee fans.

Oops. There's the record scratching into silence. That's unparalleled blasphemy in the Nation's circles, or at least it used to be. Better get used to hearing it, though, because repetitive, not very subtle references to one's own past success is called arrogance – at least that's what you called it when the Yanks fans were doing it. You won your World Series and became the Yankees in doing so. You spent millions upon millions, outpricing the other clubs for your talent, and then you won. Sure, there was a small handful of other clubs who spent a lot and failed, but the next time you hear someone say, “I never paid for it . . . ever,” you know you can't honestly say it. So you became a big-market bully, you won your trophy, and now you just can't stop talking about it – as if it were discovering an alternative energy resource or something. Please, please stop resembling everything you've railed against mightily in the last decade or so.

The Red Sox won a major sports title. It happens four times every year, or three times a year from now until when the NHL gets its head out of its five-hole. It's arguable, as Jeremy Flantzer first postulated, that while MLB used to be the toughest trophy to garner, it's now the easiest if you have the financial means. (The Mets have a rather detailed counterpoint to that hypothesis, but that's for a later discussion.) The league is actually smaller than it was in 1918, figuratively speaking. Only a select number of teams can really compete. Not your fault, but hey – you guys were the ones who brought payroll into the discussion a few years back.

I really, truly never intended or even wanted to try to tear you guys down from your loftily euphoric post in the clouds, but it's come to this. Be happy, of course, and never forget the warm, fuzzy feeling, but stop beating us over the head with it. Go have a Red Sox fantasy camping trip in the Mansfield woods, build a campfire, huddle around it, play some Peter Gammons bluegrass, have a reading of the SOSH scrolls, role-play Game 7 of the ALCS, cry until your ducts are dry, and blather on about how you won the 2004 World Series until you throw up. That's perfectly acceptable. Unless you televise it.

To sum up (at long last), we understand that since last fall, you all have been the kid in the candy store. The boy who found his daddy's Playboys. The mafioso who somehow slipped through the gates of heaven. You never figured you'd be here, and now you don't quite know how to act. That was fine for the first month or two. It's now five months later, we're on the verge of the 2005 baseball season, and the rest of us are looking at each other like with a panicked expression like, “Are we really going to have to root for the Yankees this year??” We're not suggesting you revert to the cynical, bitter, curmudgeonly bastards we enjoyed for so many years. We just want one thing.

Let's move on.

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