Some of you may recall that I have been involved in a long and drawn out baseball bet with my chum Bill Norris (late of the 5 boroughs and now in Austin). Bill is a fan of the New York Yankees while I root for the Boston Red Sox. This is a rivalry along the lines of the Tamil/Sinhalese conflict in Sri Lanka, except neither American city conducts naval raids on the other- yet.
Despite beating the Yankees for first place in the American League Eastern Division the Red Sox conspired to lose the last regular season series between the two teams. As per the terms of our bet, Bill thus earned the right to inflict a forfeit on me, to whit:
Weasel still owes me for the final Yanks/Sox series of the year.
I had a hard time coming up with his punishment this time, putting on my Professor Hat, I think what I'd like is a 1,000 word essay on why, exactly, the 2007 Red Sox are a team of destiny, why they are clearly the best team in baseball and why, of course, there is no way they can lose the World Series this year....Hopefully, this will provide the jujitsu needed to actually keep the Sox from celebrating a victory over either Cleveland or the Rockies.
Why the 2007 Red Sox are a team of Destiny
© Weaselhack, Ltd: Essays to Order While U Wait
Would you bet against the Red Sox? Would you take a chance on the once-lovable-losers-turned annoying-arrogant-New-England-sports-Brahmin's screwing it up? The curse (what curse?) was destroyed in 2004 and Boston were revealed for what they were and are: the second largest payroll in baseball, packed with talent and playing in a ball park more rigged than a Malaysian soccer match. Of course the Sox are supposed to win it all, the same way the Patriots are destined to ruin football for a generation for all Americans who live south of Connecticut and west of Lake Champlain.
Because really what is the Red Sox as underdogs myth but a fantastic piece of marketing? The Sox- by virtue of their wealth and offensive weapons- are the United States. Stacked up against the Soviet Union (the Yankees) people outside of New England were prepared to cheer on the forces of freedom (the Sox). Playing some burned out old tire factory full of boneheaded face painting Indian-minstrels like Cleveland, we don't come off so well (in this tortured analogy Cleveland is Grenada). People like me who live up here among the frosted flakes of WASPy/Ellis Island intermarriage don't give a shit that our team is no longer no better than second place. The same attitude that makes the rest of the country irrationally hate presidential candidates from our neighborhood makes us great sports fans, and makes our teams win (the Bruins and the Celtics are just slow learners but they'll get there).
The rest of the country (poor bastards) has tornadoes, dust bowls, creationism, dove hunting, and forest fires. We have Acadia National Park, the nation's first sunrise every day, cheap lobster, maple syrup, Mount Washington, Marconi Beach, Burlington, Harvard AND Yale, marshmallow fluff, Maaaaahky Maaahk, Sam Adams beer, moose, Florida for winter breaks, and now the winning ways of the Patriots and the Red Sox . No wonder they hate us when we aren't playing New York.
By Bill's reckoning, the enforced yet unfiltered arrogance of the preceding paragraphs should bring out the deus ex machina to punish me for such a display of hubris. But life is not a Greek tragedy (unless you are a Greek person with perpetual bad luck. Then life is a Greek tragedy tinged with irony). And even if it were, and the Cleveland Indians (named in honor of Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot from Maine- score one more for New England sports) beat the Red Sox this evening, I still maintain that Boston is a team of destiny. For victory takes many forms and while there is every chance the Sox will be denied World Series rings they did achieve another triumph; the toppling of that old fraud Joe Torre.
Torre had the easiest job in sports. As manager of baseball's Blackwater all he had to do was send out the most talented collection of hired hands ever assembled outside the craft services trailer on a Young Guns movie and hope that whatever glimmer of a soul his players had had been consumed by the poisonous power of their Darth Vader-like batting helmets. If Torre was missing a particular talent set, all he had to do was sidle up to Brian Cashman and ask him to go buy him someone: truly, he was the Veruca Salt of baseball management. His sole managerial talent appeared to be walking slowly to the mound so he could shake his pendulous jowls and dog-penis nose at some hapless mercenary of a pitcher, taking the ball so that he could send in a ambidextrous sidewinder with an eye patch the Yankees acquired to solely face batter X or Y but only on Wednesdays and only at home and then only if Don Mattingly had eaten a king cone 2 hours prior to the game.
Despite all of this, and despite Torre's never-ending parade of natty short sleeved nylon cap-sleeved warm up "shackets", the Yankees still managed to lose the division to the Red Sox and their ALDS to a gaggle of cut-rate Venezuelans, the poor man's Torrii Hunter, and a man with the nickname "Pronk". Thus Joe got offered $5 million for 2008 which he promptly declared an insult and stomped off to tend to the "Gulliani 08" signs in the front yard of his Staten Island shitbox. America, you are welcome.
Unlike the Colorado Rockies, Boston is not a made-up team playing in uniforms that appeared to have been lettered by a 1980s shopping mall font designer, sucking down oxygen in the dugout and playing in the discount-rated National League. Unlike the Cleveland Indians' fans, we don't feel the need to rip off the Pittsburgh Steelers' towel thing or Marge Schottenheimer's casual racism. Finally, unlike the New York Yankees, our star player isn't going into a contract year with the label "Mr. April, Miss October" hanging over his head. So come what may tonight I can put my hand on my heart and declare truthfully that the Red Sox, faltering bats and wild pitching included, are the best team in baseball even if we lose.