Monday, August 21, 2006

Savage legacy of defeat

The Boston Red Sox must be frantically packing their bags to leave town. They have a nine-game West coast jaunt to foul up, and I am certain none of them want to spend any more time in Boston.

They have embarrassed a city and are in danger of being supplanted by the Boston Celtics or the Lowell Spinners. As a culture, Bostonians are going to need some time in the slow-lane after this long, long weekend. Few expected a glorious triumph with the Pinstripes as the freaks in chains, but no one could imagine that a team with a payroll stretching to nine digits would blow five games with such excess of ignomy and shame.

That is what really stings for newly assertive Bostonians. For a very long time, the Red Sox and their fans were the dunderhead little brother to the vaunted New York Yankees. There were snide comments about report cards, performance in Little League games of yore, and bodily odors. It was tradition for Boston to fold late in the year, or perhaps late in game seven of the ALCS in 2003.

Then there was 2004. Sure, it'd great to see your team win the championship. But, the Boston Red Sox did something far more psychologically gratifying for their fanbase: they smote the Yankees. New York collapsed in four consecutive demonstrations of human failings. Misery descended on the formerly blessed. It was like resentiment unbound and hurled, in four games, onto the powerful class. It was beautiful.

From that moment on, so it seemed, New Yorkers and Bostonians would have to acknowledge a common baseline of respect and decency. In the asymmetric campaign that is free agency baseball, simple numerical comparisons do not tell the entire story. Yes, the Yankees have a storied and glorious past. But, they collapsed. All was equal. Both teams were mortal and flawed.

Then this. The Boston Red Sox have been playing poorly throughout August. They lost a series to the Devil Rays and were swept by the Cursed Kansas City Royals. Now, they've returned a cloud of shame and dishonor that had been vanquished for almost two years. The myth needs to be rendered once again. The Yankees had a lapse in 2004. They have reclaimed their big brother status.


Ouch. All the gloating that Red Sox fans did earlier in the season is coming back to haunt them, as Jason Giambi proved to be a more effective overweight designated hitter last night than David Ortiz.
Like hearing Jackson Browne perform 'Running on Empty', there's something eerily familiar and sleep inducing about watching these games.

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