Monday, October 27, 2014

"Can you believe it?"

Exactly ten years ago, everything changed. Joe Castiglione asked us if we believed it, and at fourteen, I did. I believed, and with the arrogance of fourteen-year-olds everywhere, I thought I understood what it meant.

And I guess I did, on a shallow level. I knew the lore, had read about the near misses, and heard tales of the Curse of the Bambino - though the only real Red Sox tragedy I ever witnessed was the broken look on Tim Wakefield's face at the end of the 2003 ALCS.

So I, like the rest of New England, celebrated with reckless abandon. Granted, as a freshman in high school, my partying was considerably more measured than many other fans, but I was ecstatic nonetheless.

Of course, in the decade since that frenzied celebration, I have come to realize that I can never understand what that night meant to older generations. To my fellow fans who suffered through 1986,  1978, 1975, 1967, and 1946, I can only tip my cap to your perseverance and your faith.

Sure, the Red Sox had been in the playoff hunt twice before I was even ten years old - that alone made me more fortunate than my mother's generation. But despite three playoff exits in my young life, the dull certainty of defeat hadn't set into my psyche by 2004.

I was excited, but I could certainly, as Castiglione asked, "believe it."

I don't buy into the idea that certain fans are better than others. I hate when people look down their noses at fans who they deem "lesser" - and if you've spent any time with me, you'll know how I loathe the uniquely sexist and patronizing idea of the "Pink Hat" fan.

If you've decided you love the Red Sox, that's enough for me. Fenway Park's friendly confines can fit millions through the turnstiles every year, and the metaphorical tent of Red Sox Nation is big enough for millions more.

But I won't deny that there are those who suffer for their fandom more than others. To this end, I'd like to use this anniversary of euphoria to express my admiration for the generations of fans who were subjected to many more years of heartache than I ever endured. You are the backbone of this fandom, and in the spirit of that amazing night ten years ago, I'll leave you once more with the words of Joe Castiglione:

"...for the first time in 86 years, the Red Sox have won baseball's world championship! Can you believe it?"

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