Seven years after my Bar Mitzvah, I finally became a man last week.
My initiation, de-flowering, whatever you want to call it, happened Thursday night.
I am now a true Red Sox fan.
Twenty-year-olds do not remember the hurt of 1986. We were barely in pre-school.
After the Yankees moved on to the World Series Thursday night, my dad offered words of wisdom: “All the things you’ve heard were myths to you. Now it’s reality.”
I thought I had it bad at GW, but my dad watched the game in Germany and listened to German commentators at 5 a.m. Deutschland time.
I talked to my grandfather and he rattled off all of the famous years of futility. He turned off the television when the Yankees tied the game at 5-5.
He knew what was going to happen. Red Sox fans knew what was coming when Pedro got into trouble. We knew before Yankee fans knew. But preparing for disaster didn’t make it any easier to deal with.
Aaron Boone’s moon shot might as well have hit me in the temple.
Have you ever been kicked in the groin and then been hysterically laughed at? Because that’s what it felt like walking home Thursday night.
“New York, New York” blasting from dorm room windows, Yankee fans yelling “1918,” moronic girls yelling “Yankees still suck,” my brother drunk and limping home to Thurston Hall while bawling like a small child. I even saw an away message that read “We are the champions.” Enough said.
I ran into a few Yankee fans, whose huge grins shrunk a bit when they saw me. They patted me on the back and a friend even said, “Geez, Alan, I’m sorry I ran into you right now.”
Yankee fans have the right to celebrate, but that night I just wanted them to act like they’d been to a World Series before.
I wanted them to admit that they were finally squirming like Red Sox fans. They were nervous, on the ropes and ready to drop, just like us. They joined in our struggle for seven gut-wrenching games.
Then the clock struck midnight on Thursday and the Yankees became the Yankees again. Yankee fans followed suit as if some magical force gripped the stadium.
In reality, there were no magical forces.
Curses and supernatural occurrences are excuses for casual fans. My team got beat, plain and simple. OK, they blew it. We all watched, and you can second-guess a million things, especially decisions made by Grady “The Man Who Knew Too” Little.
But think about it. What was the true game-winning hit? A bloop double, not Boone’s home run – we knew the Sox would lose when New York made it 5-5.
No one knows what might have happened if Timlin, Embree or Williamson had come in for Martinez. We’re going to question what happened for years, but thinking about it sure as hell won’t help the Sox win the World Series.
This loss damaged my soul. Some of my friends even said “I quit” in regards to rooting for the Red Sox. We’ve always got the Patriots. Today, I jokingly said to my brother, “Go Pats” and in a serious voice he replied, “Screw the Pats.”
The loss hurts and it will hurt for a long, long time. But you can’t abandon your team after big losses. That’s what a bandwagon fan does. True fans continue to support their team.
A man once said moral victories are for losers. Well, so is quitting.