This will be my son’s first World Series.
Well, technically, that’s not true. He was all of 14 days old when the Red Sox swept the Colorado Rockies, and he’s been around since the Phillies, Yankees, Giants and Cardinals have all won since.
But this will be his first World Series all the same.
I was all but a year old when the Red Sox faced the Reds in the 1975 World Series, only four when Bucky Dent became an expletive-laden household name throughout New England. My Red Sox postseason baptism didn’t come until 1986, the year I cried at the foot of my bed at the end of Game 7, with my mother rubbing my head, and asking aloud why she had introduced me to such heartache.
It’s all a bit different now, no?
One hundred and ten years after the Boston Americans won the first World Series, the Red Sox have a chance to win the eighth title in franchise history when they face off against the St. Louis Cardinals beginning Wednesday night. That’s something that seemed an impossible feat just nine years ago.
Yes, we may put the 86 years bit into over dramatics, but when you figure in ’67, ’75, ’78, ’86, ’88, the Ninja Turtle Guy, ’95, ’98, ’99, and ’03 into the equation, isn’t it a bit justified to have some heartbreak?
I mean, we’re not exactly the Seattle Mariners when it comes to this, but we also give a damn more.
We grew up knowing that the Sox would lose. We were raised upon expectations of hopelessness, frustration, and agony. One of my best friends signed my high school yearbook, “Go, Sox. They’ll never win.”
That was normalcy. If you’re not from New England, it’s a mindset you really can’t gather. There’s a rightful pride that runs deep here, but it comes with an inferiority complex that speaks to the level of the seasons. It has its ups. It has its downs.
And the Red Sox losing simply signified the end of summer, and a long, cold winter ahead.
No more. If 2004 morphed us into jaded, bandwagon pink beards, so be it. There’s something to be said about introducing our youth into something that we don’t assume won’t end in despair. It’s not really a matter of hopelessness, but there used to be a certain air of being a Red Sox fan. You knew what was around the corner, and it usually was.
“Why did I do this?” my Mom asked as I wept and the Mets paraded around Shea Stadium, wondering why she insisted on introducing me to such anguish.
She did it because that’s what we do here. Look, we all know the Patriots are kings of the sports landscape, and the Bruins aren’t far behind, but baseball is our fabric. It is the game that ties generations of New Englanders like no other place in the country. But it also delivers something completely different from what our ancestors wrought. We have all had grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, aunts all dying and convinced the Red Sox would never win the World Series again.
Today? Sox in six doesn’t sound so outlandish.
Sorry, Miss Hastings, but you’re going to have one tired kindergartner on your hands for the next week or so. If the past six years have taught us anything, it’s that these moments aren’t to be cherished lightly. The postseason isn’t a birthright, and the World Series, by any means, isn’t an annual occurrence. Even if you’re a Yankees fan.
My second son was born in 2010, just in time to watch the Celtics fall to the Lakers. A year later, I watched him crawl on the floor as the Bruins raised the Stanley Cup. My daughter is eight months old and doesn’t have a championship to her name yet.
She’ll get there. Right now it’s about introducing my oldest to what it means to be a Red Sox fan in October. Six years old, and a possible two World Series under his belt. Must be nice.
Yes, the game times suck, but let your kids stay up late. Apologize to teachers across the land.
They will remember this forever.
For better or worse.