Nomar and Pedro, Pedro and Nomar, the Curse, the fans, the town, the team.
Schilling and steroids, Dale and Numie, Bonds and Zito (sounds like an Italian dish), the Babe and the goat and the Bartman ball.
Some guy named Bob Zipay has this to say: "In the soul of Red Sox Nation, the sense of approaching dread remains." Which is pretty funny, because he's in New York, so how he has a finger on the pulse of RSN remains unclear.
Then again, another guy in Boston recently regurgitated the tired old line:
But doesn't it seem more likely that fans (as well as those who weren't aware that they were paying attention) would tremble in the scary novelty of this... this... winning, and that they'd wonder how they were supposed to make sense of the next day that would dawn ? that day upon which they would have no new pain to embrace, nobody to blame?
The national pundits are also getting into the act, and upping the ante:
Actually, I used to admire the Red Sox fans. There was a certain nobility in their loyal frustration. They accepted their lot in life as losers. But now they're poseurs, attaching themselves to the Yankees like one of those little birds that rides along on the hippopotamuses' back. It's no longer good enough that the Red Sox go about their destiny and lose. Now their identity only exists in association with the people who beat them all the time. The Red Sox fans are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.
And when that gets old, they move on to worrying about next year's contracts.
Everyone needs to just RELAX already.
These people don't represent us. If you read any of the fine Red Sox blogs or lurk on the Internet stomping grounds of the real Red Sox Nation, you'll realize that the general attitude is one of calm, not hysteria. Of optimism, rather than despair. These people like Dan Shaughnessy misrepresent the town they work in and write about when they give the rest of the world such a Freudian picture of the fans around Fenway. Then the national guys, taking their cue from the Boston people, run with and develop stories based on pure myth, speculation, and exaggeration.
Yes, Red Sox fans are passionate. We are committed to the team. We are disappointed when they don't win, and expect nothing less than total victory. If this seems naive, so be it. But is it pathological? Hardly.
And please, I think we could figure out what to do if we won, thank you very much...you know, on second thought, let's just not even go there.
Here's the general attitude about this year's baseball season among true Red Sox fans: Today is April 2. It's a long, LONG way until October thinking about curses and injuries and flipping out over every little piece of news. As Theo Epstein has already said, "If (the Red Sox) can't get past the injuries, then (they're) not a championship ball club."
It's true. Just look at the Patriots. If injuries alone swung a season one way or another, they'd have been in last place in 2003.
Being a 50-50 Sox and Pats fan has its moments of cognitive dissonance, and this recent Sox talk is one of them. Football teams *count* on players becoming injured. Granted, their sport is much more violent, but hey, if Tom Brady can win the Super Bowl with a separated shoulder, and if his team can win fielding a record number of starters and rookies due to injury, why the hell can't the Sox do something at least similar?
Instead of "Cowboy Up", this year's two-word slogan should be borrowed directly from Patriots' own proven playbook: JUST WIN. Doesn't matter if it's with Trot or Gabe or Kevin in right. Doesn't matter if it's with Nomar or Pokey at short.
They're two different sports, but it has been done before in baseball, too. At the risk of striking a sore nerve, the Yanks lost Jeter last year for an extended period, and look where they still ended up.
JUST WIN. We real members of Red Sox Nation are not worrying about the injuries--because they won't be an excuse in our eyes if things don't go as planned.
What we're worrying about is the attitude.
And hey, we're thinking (though you'll never find a column in the Globe or the Herald that reflects this) let's say Pedro isn't what he used to be. Let's say Nomar isn't either.
These guys don't live forever. They don't play forever. They don't play for us forever. That's still no reason why we can't win it all.
Also. Who were the real impact players when the rubber hit the road last season? Pedro, yes. But as for Nomar, Manny, all the other "big names"? Where were they in the playoffs?
It was Timlin, Wakefield, and Lowe who were the most important physically, and Kevin Millar who was most important to the team mentally. Meanwhile, to a lesser extent, Embree, Williamson, Mueller, Damon, and all the other "lesser" names or non-stars were all absolutely clutch when it counted.
Lowe has been lights out in the spring. Our third starter would be just about any other team's No. 1 ace. Who are we to scoff at this kind of luxury?
Wake and Timlin have been good, too. Millar has been playing his usual dual role as PR spokesman and first baseman, and now he's adding right fielder to his repertoire as well. And the list goes on.
The only person who seriously, SERIOUSLY screwed up when it mattered was Grady. And now he's gone.
Back to the Pats again--one more analogy to them before this Two Cents becomes a Nickel. Drew Bledsoe was the "franchise quarterback" for the Patriots before a high-speed collision with Mo Lewis of the Jets sheared his aorta (makes a pitcher sitting out with a blister look kind of dumb, doesn't it?). Drew was it. He was the hero. He was going to bring the Lombardi Trophy--which the Patriots had NEVER captured before 2001--home to Foxboro, finally.
Can you imagine where that team would be if they, and the fans, had clung to Bledsoe instead of giving Brady a chance? If they'd put Bledsoe back in once he'd recovered, because that made people feel more secure?
The fact is--and true fans know this--you never know where those rookies are. You never know when another Pedro will walk out of the bullpen against the Indians. You never know when another Tom Brady will suit up against the Jets. That's the beauty of these games.
You have to wonder just when and how the professionals who make their living writing about the most compelling sports city in the world lost sight of that.