I watched all four games of the World Series, and it was somewhat of a bore even to me. Winning in four may be satisfying for the team, but the almost total lack of suspense doesn’t make for great baseball theater. To the best of my recollection, at no point were the Rockies even in the lead.
In 2004, when the Red Sox won the Series for the first time in eighty-six years, even though that win occurred in a four-game blowout as well, there was the built-in suspense of thinking the team would choke as in olden days. The only real question was in what new and creative manner they would manage to do so. So it was an astounding surprise, almost umimaginable, when they won at last.
But this time that spell had evaporated, and winning seemed a foregone conclusion.
There’s something about being an underdog that lends a special intensity to rooting for a team. I wonder if I’d ever have become a member of Red Sox nation if they hadn’t had that long history of memorable, heartbreaking losses. I doubt it. I never liked the Yankees, even when I was growing up in New York and should have been a natural fan, for the opposite reason: they were always the favorites. Boring.
Yankee fans have grown used to being top dog, and it rankles them in particular that Boston is on top, as a reporter who went to the Big Apple dressed in Red Sox gear discovered:
From the relentless glitz of Times Square to the lonely grit of Yankee Stadium, drivers leaned on their horns, pedestrians tossed the occasional elbow, and a man passing out pamphlets in the Garment District for a men’s clothing store sale withdrew the sheet of paper when he saw what the reporter was wearing. The venom cut across race, gender, and socioeconomic lines.
It used to be that it was Boston fans who were the angry ones. After all, they had a lot to be angry about. The fabled rivalry between the two teams was long and bitter, and most of the hardship was on the Boston side. Yankee fans looked on Boston as rivals almost unworthy of the name, so why make a fuss?
Now they understand, only too well. At least, they may think they understand. But they’ve got a long way to go before they have anything like the soul-searing experience of those eight-plus decades for Sox fans.
However, there’s a consolation. New Yorkers may not be riding high in sports, but they probably will experience what I believe would be the first double New Yorker (if you count Hillary as a true New Yorker) Presidential race in history. It’s a win-win situation.