A Fan's Perspective
---- — The Boston Red Sox are the newly crowned champions of the baseball world, and I couldn’t feel more ambivalent about their success.
Don’t get me wrong; I have been a Sox fan since I was old enough to tell the difference between home plate and a dinner plate. Becoming a Sox fan seemed less of a choice than a birthright, though my fanaticism did come with a price.
I endured countless sub-.500 seasons, a rotating door of managers, and hundreds of lineup changes, cushioning each blow with this desperate hope for a miracle that always seemed to be a season away. Then 2004 happened and suddenly Boston was transformed into the sports equivalent of Disneyland. Dreams do come true for the fans of the boys down on Yawkey Way and, if the 2007 season was any indication, they do so repeatedly.
On Oct. 30, the Red Sox won their third championship in nine years. Two months prior to their series-clinching win in Game 6, I celebrated my 24th birthday. For half of my life, the Sox (and the other Boston pro franchises) have competed at a breathtaking level of dominance.
Continued excellence is now the expectation at Fenway Park and, no matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise, this recent decade of dominance is certainly the worst thing to happen to my generation of Sox fans. We are spoiled.
Over the past decade, there have been few heartbreaks and even fewer losses: the pain of Aaron “Bleeping” Boone’s demoralizing 2003 ALCS Game 7 homer was swiftly erased by a miraculous 2004 season; the stain of Bobby Valentine’s brief but caustic stint as manager was washed away by John Farrell’s brilliant first year in Boston.
Simply put, these are not your granddaddy’s Red Sox. These are the Google-age Red Sox, an instantly rewarding team to match Generation Y’s desire for instant gratification.
A World Series title suddenly appears to be as easy a task as asking “Siri” for the directions to the nearest Italian restaurant. And in the years that the Sox have not brought home the title, there were the Pats or Celtics or Bruins to fill the championship void. Over the past dozen years, a Boston team has competed in a championship series a dozen times. That’s 12 for 12. Even Disneyland cannot compete with that level of fantasy.
How will my generation explain this baseball utopia to our children? More importantly, how will my generation deal with losing?
Our parents and grandparents know all too well that losing is as inevitable as the turn of seasons. It’s easy to assure ourselves that we have the patience to withstand the constant failure that previous generations of Sox fans withstood when our 37-year old DH, considered to be in the twilight of his career two seasons ago, is coming off a .688 batting performance in the World Series.
So, in this decade of joy and celebration of our team, I must make a small plea to the younger generations of Red Sox Nation. Please understand that this recent bout of success is not our birthright but rather the accumulation of decades of struggle and persistence.
Red Sox Nation has always prided itself in its deep knowledge of the game. Sox fans understand how minuscule the odds of winning any title are and what it takes for a team to overcome those odds: the hours of late-night batting practice, the grueling months of playing through injury, the bad hops and missed opportunities that come with the grind of an exhausting season. In the past, Sox fans refused to grow complacent with losing, and they were justly rewarded after 86 years. The next generation of Boston fans is faced with a far more challenging task: refusing to grow complacent with winning.
How will we respond?
A.J. Serrano is a North Andover native and recent graduate of the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. He has worked on numerous film and television productions and is a published author of short stories and pop culture essays.
Editor's note: From time to time we run columns from the readers' perspective. If you have a column send it to Eagle-Tribune executive sports editor Bill Burt at email@example.com.