Tuesday, October 28, 2014
I could wax poetically about the sun rising on a new kind of Massachusetts that day, but I'll skip all that. We had finally won the World Series, and it was a completely new kind of feeling as a sports fan.
In retrospect, we Red Sox fans had spent years torturing ourselves, in a Calvinistic hope (give credit to Dan Shauhgnessy for the comparison between Sox fans, and the predestination believing religious folks who colonized Massachusetts centuries earlier) that with each painful experience, we would somehow be rewarded with greater amounts of joy if, AND ONLY IF, our team ever won. The more pain we went through on Earth, the greater joy Heaven would bring. That was the hope.
I'll come back to that torture/reward thing later. Returning to October 28, 2004...
I got home just as the morning commute was peaking. The Sox were the only story on the local news. The plane carrying the newly minted Champions landed at Logan. There were videos of grown men in business suits with briefcases, running alongside the team bus on its way to Fenway, jumping up and down for joy. There was a massive parade and I took the first Red Line train into Boston to get a good spot for it.
That unadulterated release of joy was something that had been building inside of us fans for years, even decades. And with each heartbreak, with each close call, with each Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone, the frustration built up. As the frustration and need for release increased, so did the feeling of gratification and joy that would be felt if we ever attained that release. In other words, we Sox fans had a terrible case of Blue Balls.
2004 was the epic release of that frustration, and also that joy. No sports moment will ever feel like that again.
That's why we no longer live and die with each pitch. That's why Red Sox fans went from religious zealots, to the people who only go to Church at Christmas and Easter.
John Henry, Larry Lucchino, and the Fenway Sports Group didn't help. Continuing the religious metaphor, imagine being the Pope the year after Jesus Christ came back to Earth. How would you get people fired up about anything?
You'd probably renovate the Vatican, and hire a bunch of high-priced Bishops and Cardinals (Renteria, Drew) to get people's attention.
I'll give Fenway Sports Group all the credit in the world for breaking The Curse. I'll also criticize them for not understanding what Sox fans were feeling, and still now not understanding how regular fans feel about this team. We couldn't have the same cultish devotion to the Sox after all our prayers had been answered. Henry and FSG didn't get that.
They didn't get a lot of things.
The same owners who hired The Epstein also chased him out of town. Twice. The same owners who hired Terry Francona also hired Bobby Valentine. The same owners who renovated Fenway Park also lied about sellouts and we still can't figure out why. Every 2 years they seem to acknowledge their mistakes and change their philosophy, and yet somehow they maintain a smug arrogance as though everything they do is right.
And perhaps most vexing of all, they kept Jerry Remy but dumped Jenny Dell. Giggly analyst who enabled his woman-beating son vs. attractive sideline fluff reporter who still had more interesting things to say than Remy.
Seriously? NESN and the Red Sox decided to take her off the TV screen. Good call, guys.
Everything changed after the Red Sox won the World Series. Red Sox fans changed. We went from anxiously anticipating an overdue release, to being normal fans of a normal big-market baseball team. Ownership didn't want our fandom to change, though. They wanted the same rapt attention, the same hopeful highs and desperate lows. It's like we fans were bipolar before the Sox cured us by winning the World Series. Yet the owners still wanted to prescribe us Prozac and Paxil.
We didn't want that after 2004. We just wanted a baseball team. And that's all I want now. We don't need to have owners and GMs who spend on JD Drew but skimp on Jon Lester. We don't need lavish ceremonies where lions are released and someone pulls the string on Kevin Millar's back so he says something country.
We just want a baseball team. Please.
Jim Davis/Boston Globe
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Thursday Night Football doesn't fit in. And it double-screws fans who go to the game, since they can't properly tailgate without leaving work early, and can't get properly lubed up without taking Friday off.
If you're going to play this drinking game, it will do more than throw you off your rhythm. It will incapacitate you 60+ hours, until the remainder of the NFL games are played Sunday afternoon.
Anytime a commentator says:
"Rain" or anything weather related = 1 drink of beer
"Thursday" = 1 drink
"New" = 1 drink
"Divisiona(al)" = 1 drink
"Rival(ry)" = 1 drink
"East" = 1 drink
"Rex" = 1 drink
"Line" = 1 drink
"Coach" = 1 drink
"Dante" = 1 drink
"Logan" = 1 drink
"Revis" = 1 drink
"Island" = 1 drink, preferably something tropical
"Injury" = 1 drink
"ACL" and/or "MCL" = 1 drink
"Hoomanawanui" or any variation of it = 1 drink
Anytime this is on screen:
Puddles or running water = 1 drink
Someone in a raincoat or poncho = 1 drink per coat
Foliage = 1 drink for every color of leaf you can see
A pumpkin = 1 drink. If drinking a pumpkin flavored beer, you must finish it
A graphic with pictures of Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick = drink the entire time the graphic is on screen
A graphic with quotes = drink the entire time the graphic is on screen
A Patriot player getting injured, live or on film = 1 shot of liquor
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Kraft talking to someone = drink for as long as he's talking
Bill Belichick = 1 drink
Rex Ryan = 1 drink, plus a goddamn snack
Belichick and Ryan on split screen = half a beer
Ryan and Belichick shaking hands = 1 shot
Danny Amendola = finish your beer
Anytime this happens:
A penalty flag = 1 drink
A bad penalty flag = 1 shot
Touchback = 1 drink
Kickoff return = drink for the duration of the return. For bonus points, drink 1 second for every yard the return gained
Matthew Slater makes a special teams tackle = half a beer
Michael Vick = no drinks, but if you have a dog, give it a good belly rub and pat yourself on the back that you're a good pet owner
You're mesmerized by how white Rex Ryan's teeth are = 1 drink, then swallow a shot of Listerine
Josh McDaniels gets too cute with play-calling = 1 shot
Chandler Jones makes a big play = 1 drink
The Patriots go no huddle = 1 drink per snap
Brady points out the "mic" = 1 drink
Brady says "Alpha Milk" = 1 drink, bonus points if drinking a White Russian
Brady and a receiver aren't on the same page = 1 drink
You're worried that Edelman is hurt = 1 drink
You're worried that Gronk is hurt = 1 drink
Brady throws to someone not named Julian or Rob = 1 drink
That person catches the ball = another drink
Brady gets hurried = 1 drink
Brady gets hit = 1 drink, 1 shot
Brady gets sacked = 1 drink, 1 shot, snort a line of painkillers
Vince Wilfork makes a big play = 1 drink
Wilfork forces and/or recovers a turnover = 1 drink, 1 shot
Wilfork returns a turnover for a TD = 1 drink, 1 shot, eat a turkey leg
You realize that the Kansas City Royals are in the World Series, and it's the first time that's happened since the Super Bowl Shuffle = drink something that's 29 years old, or drink 29 ounces of something heavily alcoholic
Get lubed up responsibly, stay dry, and enjoy the game
Monday, October 13, 2014
What really pisses me off about Columbus getting his own day is that his historic significance is a result of his colossal, towering stupidity.
In 1492 most educated people knew the world was round. The Greeks had figured it out centuries earlier, and had even accurately calculated the size of the Earth. Columbus dramatically misinterpreted those calculations, and thought Japan was much farther away from China, which was based more on hope than on science.
Columbus convinced himself that his voyage from Spain to Japan would be 2,300 miles. It would have been 12,200. And no ship built in 1492 could carry enough food and water for such a long journey. Had Columbus not bumped into the New World, he and his men would have starved. They probably would have resorted to cannibalism, and the voyage of 1492 would go down in history as a horror story, alongside the Donner Party. Christopher Cannibalumbus.
Even after Columbus' great discovery, he was too much of a close-minded fool to admit he'd found a new continent, and never acknowledged that the Americas weren't part of Asia. That's like Neil Armstrong telling people he'd landed on the North Pole. This great discoverer didn't even know he had discovered something.
And as far as genocidal European conquerors go, Columbus wasn't very good at his job. He ruled his new colony as a bloody tyrant, brutally punishing both Natives and Europeans alike, even for just speaking against him or his family. For this Columbus was removed as governor of the West Indies. He was fired for brutality by the people who were running the Spanish Inquisition.
So he was a bad but lucky navigator/explorer. He was too stupid to realize his own discovery. He was a bad governor. And his own people hated him. Yet we here in America have a day for him. Doesn't make sense.
Instead of honoring Columbus, we should honor Vikings. Let's change this holiday to Viking Day! And here's why:
Vikings were the first Europeans to make the trip, and they did it 500 years before Columbus.
Vikings were honest about their pillaging. They didn't justify it by claiming they were spreading religion. Columbus saw himself as spreading his religion as he had people tortured and killed. Funny, that's how ISIS see themselves these days. Columbus=ISIS. ColumbISIS.
Fewer protests and arguments. Obviously Native American groups and the legions of white celebrities and grad students who think they speak on their behalf, would have less to complain about. And I don't think Viking-Americans would get offended. Furthermore, if your ancestry is Scandinavian, British, French, Irish, Russian, you probably have some Viking ancestry too. They even went to Spain, Sicily, Turkey, all over Europe. You can be racially offensive about your own race and/or the race of the majority. Those are the rules.
Finally, Viking Day would be more fun. We could all dress up as Vikings. Adults could drink heavily in large drinking halls, or prowl the coastline in longboat booze cruises. Children could "pillage" their houses for toys and treats hidden by their parents. It would be a Nordic St. Patrick's Day. So much better than the boring Columbus Days we have now, which are just an extra 24 hours to rake leaves.
So let's do some exploring and discover Viking Day!
Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Patriot fans do need to keep calm. They need to keep calm about embarrassing defeats. They need to keep calm about inspiring triumphs. This team is going to be wildly inconsistent. They will look amazing in one game, one quarter, one drive, for one play. Then they'll look awful for a game, a quarter, a drive.
And with the right attitude, inconsistency becomes drama. It becomes something that can be enjoyed as entertainment.
But Pats fans seem so joyless. Even when the team wins, unless it's a flawless victory, the fans worry and fret, troubling themselves Monday through Saturday. They then spend their Sunday (or Monday night) yelling at the TV. That's no way to go through life.
Pats fans need to have more emotional maturity about this team. As do pundits and writers and sports radio morons. I was expecting the radio yesterday to be full of cautious optimism. "This was a great game, but it's just one game," type of sentiments. Instead everyone was either drooling over this game, or they were being defensive about their histrionics from the previous week, which they spent dismantling the Patriots and speculating that Brady would be benched because Belichick had "Lost the quarterback."
People in the media rallied around Trent Green, who berated the Patriots for not spending money (a just criticism, but Trent didn't do much criticizing of his Baltimore Ravens for how they handled the Ray Rice situation, in fact Trent praised them_.
The truth lies somewhere between the "Brady and Belichick are at war" camp, and those who think that "everything is awesome."
The truth is that this team is good but flawed. This team has talent and holes. They're entertaining to watch, if you let yourself be entertained.
There's at least a sliver of hope for this team. It's not a big sliver. They have many issues, and they match up poorly against a number of teams. There are greater tragedies in life than seeing your favorite football team win ONLY 3 championships.
The hope, and the entertainment value that Pats fans are choosing not to enjoy, are the envy of a number of NFL cities. I'm not saying you should be satisfied with losing. I am saying you should at least enjoy exciting football games.
And if you can't find a way to enjoy watching a team that has a chance to win, a team that can make exciting plays, a team that plays dramatic games. Then I don't know why you watch sports.