And it's not just the physical distance (3,088 miles). I don't work with a single person who watches the World Series. No one smiles knowingly or starts to hum when I tell them I named my dog "Tessie." I see Sox caps on the street, but I have learned to stop using that as a reason to yell "Go Sox!" because usually, the person received the hat as a gift after 2004 and they don't even really root for the team.
I've been reading the Boston Globe every day to make me feel a little closer, but oddly, it's not really helping.
Yesterday, the Globe published an article saying, basically, how in this new era, the Red Sox have become the Yankees, and that we should all feel sort of guilty for being Red Sox fans now that they're, you know, winning. In the Boston Globe! The freaking Boston Globe! And, more remarkably, this didn't lead to destruction and vandalism of the Boston Globe buildings and paperboxes around the city!
Today, Dan Shaughnessy (who made The Curse Of The Babe famous and then made some money off it) wrote about how fans in Fenway were surprised when the Red Sox fell behind 1-0 for a few innings in Game 2. He goes on to casually assume that they're going to win it in Colorado, so we won't see them again until the Duck Boat parade, and I'm sitting here flailing my arms going DON'T JINX IT, DAN! THE BASEBALL GODS ARE FICKLE AND WILL RAIN HEARTBREAK UPON USSSS!
Did I miss the boat to The New Red Sox Nation here, guys? I mean, I get that we're no longer hapless underdog losers...
BUT THAT'S TOTALLY AWESOME! We need to be celebrating and dancing the line dances with Papelbon and freaking out with joy because we're on top of the (American League) world right now and you never know when this will happen again!
I can't help it. While old curses have been broken, I'm still scared of someone accidentally creating new ones. Yes, my beloved Sox have now been to the World Series twice in my adult lifetime, but guys, this is baseball! We could have a drought of another 86 years, so I'd better not hear a single Sox fan saying "Eh, I'm going to go to the Pizza Hut tonight, but I'll watch the series the next time the Sox are in it."
Nothing will be like the fall of 2004, probably ever again. That wasn't just baseball, wasn't just post-season, wasn't just world-series victory, that was world series victory on ecstacy. No one could talk about anything else. There wasn't a soul on any road in New England during the games, unless they were headed between a liquor store and a television between innings. Little children and grandparents were all bowing their heads to pray ohpleaseohpleaseohplease because heartbreak was both woefully expected and also unbearable.
We will never again be that team or those fans, but that doesn't make us "any other team" that you can love or lose. We are a Baseball Nation with obsessive, knowledgeable, opinionated (and loud) fans. We care about baseball (hell, if you live in Boston during a season like this, you care about baseball whether you like it or not). It divides us (I don't think there's another sports franchise out there where every word of any manager, coach or owner is so hotly debated) and unites us.
Right now, we have one of the best teams ever. Holy Christ. Josh Beckett, Papelbon, Okajima, Mike Lowell, Manny, Youk, Pedroia, Schilling, Ellsbury... these guys play an absolutely amazing game of baseball, and it's so awesome to watch, and unbelievable to have that be my team! My team of unparalleled awesomeness!
I love being a Red Sox fan. Yes, it's a little strange to learn how to root for the Good Old Boys of New England without the crushing weight of endless defeat on your shoulders, but you know what? That's a damn good problem to have. If the Red Sox lose the World Series this time, old men aren't going to be crying that it might not happen ever in their lifetime (that's the good part about not having Babe Ruth's ghost on your back -- fewer crying old people). As Manny-being-Manny said, "it's not the end of the world." But the possibility of winning is still exciting beyond all reason. I am just as thrilled when I see a GOOD LUCK BOSTON! banner ad on the Gllobe website or when a radio announcer says The Red Sox are leading the 2007 world series 2-0. I still can't knit during post-season games, but always during regular-season games (it worked in 2004, man, and don't mess with success). I wear inside-out rally caps, still whisper ohpleaseohpleaseohplease and, dammit, Dan Shaughnessy, I never count my Duck Boats before they're launched, but I always hope, and I always have faith.
We aren't "just any other team." We aren't the Yankees, and we certainly aren't Yankees fans. We're the Red Sox, and right now, until game 3 on Saturday where it's all up for grabs again, we're the best.
In short, Boston Globe: SHUT IT.
Because this freaking rocks.