Not an Awful Curse: Sox Still WinBy Brian Chase
A few weeks ago, ESPN.com created a “misery rating” of baseball teams, trying to quantify how much suffering fans of a given baseball team had had to endure over the years. The article made me think about the long-suffering Red Sox fans, and it drove me to this conclusion: they’re lucky. Red Sox fans, in my mind, should be envied, not pitied, because while the Red Sox suffer playoff disappointment year after year, their fans are in a much better place than the fans of teams like the Kansas City Royals or the Milwaukee Brewers, who don’t inspire enough love for most potential fans to feel anything for the team.
Recently I had a chance to attend a Red Sox game as a Tech sports writer. I had a great time, and my experience showed how devoted and enthusiastic the fans were. They screamed, sighed, cheered and said “AAWWWW” almost in unison. Even though the Red Sox were winning 7-2 after the first inning, most of the fans stayed around until the end of the game. It was a really encouraging thing to see (and hear). It proved to me that as much as they might suffer in September, the Sox fans enjoy the heck out of the rest of the baseball season.
This is in stark contrast to teams like the Brewers or Royals. Those teams are so bad that their fans cannot hold any aspirations for the playoffs at all, and the baseball season turns into one long parade of crushed hope and despair. And even when these cellar-dwelling teams do have some moderate success, it is often a fleeting and temporary illusion that betray fans into believing their teams are finally climbing out of their hole, only to go through the same disappointment and despair the next season.
Take the Royals, for example. Last year they had their first winning season for almost a decade, and at one point were in first place in their division by seven games. Although they faded down the stretch, they left tons of KC fans excited for this season and ready to finally believe in the Royals again. So what happened? Through last Saturday the Royals are 7-15, dead last in their division and showing no signs that they will be able to recover. Now some people might even believe they will lose 100 games again. And now Royals fans are left once again with the prospect of a long season of pain, hoping only that the Royals win a series, or don’t look too bad, much less get into the playoffs. The Brewers fans are probably going through a similar sense of hopelessness and despair.
The parallel between these teams recall the old axiom “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” The Red Sox fans love their team and that binds them as a community, gives them a lot of entertainment for most of the summer, and gives them something to be proud about for their city. So what if they lose in the playoffs every year? They always have hope that next year they will finally get it, because they have a good team with a firm foundation. The fans of the bad teams, though, never get the satisfaction or the intense pride that Red Sox fans can claim, they have “never loved at all.”
So I say to those Red Sox fans who moan about Bucky Dent and Bill Buckner and never winning the series: stop complaining. All that whining about your curses may look pretty spoiled to a Royals or Brewers fan. You have a good team, with excellent starting pitching, the potential for enormous hitting power, and decent fielding skills. Enjoy this ballclub for the summer, and when (or if) they lose in the playoffs, shrug it off and think of the good times they gave you over the summer. I realize that that may be hard to do the day after Aaron Boone has hit his home run and Pedro has gone down in flames, but over the long term that kind of attitude will, I think, result in Red Sox fans getting more respect from other fans around the league, and maybe more enjoyment from their team. After all, baseball has a long, long season, it isn’t right to let seven games ruin the fun of the the 162.