Sunday, November 03, 2013

The 2013 Red Sox: Champions of Baseball and Beards

If you're reading this (and God knows few of you have endured) you know that I've said about as much as a fan can say about one team. I wrote a book about the 2004 Red Sox. A very, very poorly selling book. The worst selling book.

But the 2013 Red Sox really are fascinating. They were great, to be sure. But they were great in a  compelling, unexpected, way.

 They kind of had to earn our affection. The beards helped, but an overwhelmingly bearded team that ends up third in the AL East is just a bunch of hairy, ugly bastards.

But they started to win. And you know, the idea of chicken and beer in the clubhouse -- the horror! -- seems a lot less horrible when you're winning.

"Boston Strong" is a narrative hook that means something from the inside and probably grates from the outside, but I don't want to buy into some  simplistic causal relationship between the Red Sox title and the Marathon bombing. No team deserves a championship because of proximity to tragedy. A team deserves a title if it wins.The marathon tragedy, after all, did not help the Bruins win the Stanley Cup nor did it turn the Celtics into a playoff force.

Parades through Boston have become commonplace in a decade-and-change that has turned our fans ever more insufferable even if it has been glorious to be a part of. As a New England expatriate I get to avoid some of the worst of the obnoxiousness but also have missed out on the day-to-day enjoyment of being there, of enjoying the social elements of fandom, the rituals and totems and communal spirit.

There are children born in the 1990s who have no idea what a barren decade that was, and how for more than a generation only the Celtics carried the torch of Boston postseason success. But since then the Celtics won another title, the Bruins broke a  long Stanley Cup drought, the Patriots won three Super Bowls, and the Red Sox -- the RED SOX!!! -- have won three World Series titles.

It won't always be this good, kids. Enjoy it. But realize that this is not the way things have always been, and it is not the way things always will be.