Friday, October 26, 2007

"Don't get cocky..."

David Pinto noted this comment from soxaholic:
Speaking of dignity, I'm astonished at just how much my watching-the-game mentality has changed since 2004. My never ending angst and jittahs has been replaced by a cool certitude.

Pinto's reaction - Don't get cocky.

Which is good advice. I agree with it.

But I also agree with a lot of what he's responding to. I wouldn't go so far as to say that my angst has been replaced by cool certitude, but it is largely gone. It isn't cool certitude that's replaced it - I could easily see them losing this series - but a more balanced, well-adjusted perception of the Red Sox, baseball, and their place in the order of the universe. And I've commented on it several times in the last couple of weeks.

Before 2004, the opportunities for winning in the post-season for the Red Sox were rare and, for the most part, painful. When you're wondering if the team is ever going to win a World Series, every loss is devastating.

That is no longer the case.

If the Red Sox had lost in the ALDS, I'd have been disappointed. If they'd lost in the ALCS, I'd have been disappointed. If they end up losing this World Series, I'll be disappointed. But not devastated - I've seen the Red Sox win the World Series. I've seen the apocalyptic, end-of-the-world armageddon, the ultimate battle of good vs. evil, the storyline that you couldn't write because it was so unrealistic, and watched the Red Sox win the World Series. Before 2004, I knew - didn't think, knew - that the Red Sox would lose in the playoffs. I knew that they'd lose, and it would either be quick and ugly, carrying with it the unmistakable stamp of inferiority (think about those four game sweeps vs Oakland in 1988 and 1990) or a tease of an epic sort, raising hopes only to dash them again (1986, 2003). And the Yankees would beat the Red Sox. Period.

2004 changed all of that.

Right now, Red Sox fans are looking at a team that has among the highest financial resources in the game, management and ownership that are committed to using those resources to win baseball games, a good front office, a strengthening farm system, a good field manager, and a league that allows 4 of 14 AL teams into the playoffs. If they don't win the World Series this year, well, they are extremely likely to get another chance next year, or the year after. They may not win one in the next 10 years, but they may win 3, and, like Rick and Ilsa had Paris, we'll always have 2004.

I've written about some of this before, but the difference now, during the post-season, is striking to me. I don't remember feeling this way during 2005, but that ended so quickly, that I may never have really thought about it. In any event, when Manny spoke in Cleveland last week, I agreed with every word.

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