Red Sox fans a special bunch of sufferers

Winning championship would have a down side

October 13, 2003|By Steve St. Angelo | Steve St. Angelo,SUN STAFF

Want to know what really scares a Boston Red Sox fan?

Pain? Please, Mr. Bucky Dent. Is that as hard as you can swing?

Disappointment? Forget it. We'll watch Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the Mets - "... and the Red Sox are in stunned disbelief!" - all 1,986 times they show it on ESPN Classic. (It always ends the same way. What are the odds?)

Ribbing? Go through a lifetime of the stuff and you'd be surprised how the sting goes away.

No, there's something much more chilling out there:

Winning it all.

Red Sox fans' greatest fear is that this latest cursed group will win the championship and we become just another bunch of lovable ... winners? Anybody can do that. Look at Anaheim Angels fans. A magical run to the world championship last season. Once long-suffering, diehard supporters, now they're just a bunch of self-satisfied folks with monkey issues.

True story: We were living in New York City when I decided to introduce my wife to baseball. Took her to Yankee Stadium on the subway. Grandstand seats. Green grass, bright sun, baseball and hot dogs. Two bites of a Yankee Frank. Right there, she declares her undying allegiance to the Bronx Bombers! All because she likes the stadium hot dog.

Of course, the Yankees go on to win four world championships. I feel sorry for her. She'll never know the thrill of suffering for years and years and thereby earning the excitement and collective release of all those tears of sadness turned to showers of joy and confetti on a crisp autumn evening.

OK, neither, so far, have we. But you're missing the point.

Say what you want about us, Red Sox fans know that we're special. Let the Cubs win the World Series. They've been waiting even longer. They've got their own curse. If the Sox win, Cubs fans get to hog all the glorious infamy.

Over our dead bodies.

See, Red Sox fans know some other things, too.

Like Roger Clemens was washed up in 1996.

And that the ball Cincinnati Reds slugger Tony Perez hit in the 1975 World Series (on the lollipop curve pitcher Bill Lee had been forbidden to throw him by manager Don Zimmer) is going to land ... someday, somewhere.

That we got the better of the Babe Ruth deal. He was such a carouser and bad role model. Always out of shape, that one.

That "closer" Bob Stanley wasn't good, but he was very consistent. And isn't consistency what every team looks for?

That champagne is for drinking at weddings.

That World Series rings are gaudy and ugly. And they weigh a ton. Not very practical.

Nobody else knows these things like we do.

And we know we aren't ready to give up the ghosts.

Dream scenario, if the Cubs and Sox get to the World Series: Bottom of the ninth in Game 7 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Red Sox 2, Cubs 1. Runners on second and third. Sammy Sosa at bat. Mike Timlin pitching. Strike one, ball one, strike two, foul ball, ball two, ball three, foul ball, foul ball, foul tip in and out of the catcher's mitt, then ... lazy fly ball to shallow left field. Caught! The outfielder, overcome by emotion, spins and fires the ball over the Bleacher Bums onto Waveland Avenue. The curse is dead! He screams the dorky Red Sox slogan, "Cowboy Up!" as he turns and runs toward the infield to embrace his teammates (and this is a huggy bunch). Only then, seeing the stunned disbelief in his teammates eyes, does he remember that there are but two outs. Both Cubs runners tag and score.

Holy cow! Cubs win!

Oh, yeah. That would hold us for about 20 years.

Lesser fans wouldn't survive something like that. We have, and we'll do it again. We're different. We're still here. We still matter.

And we like it that way.

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