I've been thinking about converting, of switching from the one religion that unites all Massachusetts residents, to an occult that brings comfort to the truly hopeless. I'm thinking of becoming a Cubs fan.
I see you sitting at your computer, itching to set those middle fingers to typing up some nasty rebuttal and add a pink hat accusation in the comments section. Hear me out.
The Red Sox have lost their cachet. The fair-weather fans don't bother me, but the sense of entitlement that now permeates Red Sox culture does. The enormous payroll and two World Series Championship wins in four years are somehow coupled with the contention that the team is still scrappy. Boston seems imbued with the belief that winning is a matter of fact, and losing means the universe is alarmingly out of kilter. You know who else behaves that way? Yankees fans.
During the glory days of my youth, before we realized that I was hopelessly unathletic, my father and I would play catch in our yard. We'd talk in vague terms about baseball, until my mother called us inside when she grew bored of hearing my father say, "nice catch!" on the rare occasion when my mitt connected with the ball. Being a lifelong Massachusetts denizen, I was a Sox fan. My father, a Chicago transplant, was for the Cubs. We would argue about which team had "more heart," the one haunted by a dough-faced slugger who got traded, or the loveable losers cursed by an enraged goat who was expelled from Wrigley Field after the audience complained about his body odor. In those days, I was fiercely loyal, but now logic has to prevail. Forget which team is still cursed … which specter has a worse vendetta, the guy who went on to have a record-breaking career, or the ostracized, angry farm animal that was humiliated?
The Cubs are what the Sox used to be. They have not been to the World Series since 1945, boast a title win drought that spans more than a century … and their fans are somewhat proud of that. They have hard-bitten rivalries with several teams that are actually good. They've already had a disappointing season opener.
Given, I'm no sports junkie. When I hear "up to the plate," I think of elegant dinnerware, and the term "breaking stuff" conjures images hooligans before baseball players. But, the Red Sox are interwoven with a Bostonian's identity. The team I grew up with were about getting so close and still missing the mark (which is, incidentally, also my personal motto). We, as their fans, pledged rabid loyalty to our underdogs, some of the proudest losers in Major League Baseball history. We've lost that strange inheritance.
But the way this season is going, it seems we might have our old team back. So I'll hang onto my Red Sox hat … for now.