I've started this post at least eight times today. Finally I have decided it's best just to jump right in. There are a seemingly infinite number of thoughts clamoring in my head to get out, and I know they won't all find a place here. Part of me also wonders if they should necessarily all be publicly aired--I identify wholeheartedly with Soxaholix's statements that "one continually burns with shame but cannot understand why...the feelings themselves are resentful toward the idea of their being made public — like they have a humility that makes them cringe at the thought of a witness."
But as Red and Denton set out their mission for their blog--this is a place to spew ventings on what it is to be a die-hard, fanatical sports fan. If this is not something I can post about, why do I post at all?
One problem, as Sam, Mer, Kristen, Amy, Annette and I discussed on our Neverending Email Thread in the wake of this disaster--and yes, disaster is the word I choose to use--is that it's difficult to know at this juncture just what being a Red Sox fan means to us going forward.
What it means to me today is that I am oscillating between two stages of grief: denial and anger. One moment, I am in a lake of fire: there's no way to get away from the agony. I keep trying to put my mind on other things, and keep failing. It's like staring into the sun, but I can't stop.
In this moment, the one of anger, I wish there was something we as fans could do. I wish there was definitive action to take that would send home how completely upset we are with this. Should we boycott the team? Boycott the Globe? Is there anything we can do? I feel powerless, helpless, and, like many, deeply, deeply furious. Somebody fucked the fuck up here, and I want that person gone from the Red Sox. I want that person gone before I give that godforsaken organization any more of my hard-earned dollars. I just want there to be some kind of action I can take. Some way to express my displeasure directly, and to the appropriate person.
Some people have already picked that person. The name most often mentioned is Larry Lucchino, and it is this option with which I most agree. It seems to me that someone in the Red Sox organization who should have known better called Theo's bluff and, as most of us in the Western world with functioning brains could have predicted, got his ass kicked for it. The scuttlebutt is that Lucchino "spoon-fed" the now infamous Shaughnessy column of Sunday directly to the curly-haired one, and that it was this "betrayal of trust"--one with a striking resemblance, however, to the preemptive smear campaigns against Nomar upon his departure last year and Manny in anticipation of his taking leave this year, though it never actually came about--that ultimately pushed Theo out the door.
As should be obvious, the name most often following, or paired with, Lucchino's is Shaughnessy himself. In his excellent analysis of the situation, Bruce at BSMW has this to say for the CHB:
Could Sunday's column have been the beginning of the end for Shaughnessy in Boston? Already reviled by many Red Sox fans, fair or not, the impression is now out there that Shaughnessy allowed himself to be used as a mouthpiece and puppet by Lucchino in the "Let's iron out some of this dirty laundry" column...The irony that Shaughnessy, who spent the better parts of two decades reveling in the failures of the Red Sox, should now be accused of being a mouthpiece for the club is steep indeed. Shaughnessy has made so many enemies over the years that it is hard to believe he would do this as merely out of the goodness of his heart. The article was so clearly pro-Lucchino that it is laughable. The talking points for the column were clearly outlined: Why would Theo rebel against those who brought him here? Larry is more of a "baseball guy" than Theo. There's no smear campaign. All just as Larry would want them to be portrayed. Dan, the good "company man" went along with it.
Trust me, no one would be happier than me if Shaughnessy's reign of terror were finally over in Boston. And I have little trouble believing that someone whose character has been questioned--apparently rightly--by George Steinbrenner is someone of whom I can safely be suspicious.
But of course, it cannot be so simple. As Bruce also noted, "It is clear though, if Shaughnessy didn't write the article on Sunday, someone else would have."
And Larry Lucchino is not principal owner of the Boston Red Sox. John W. Henry is principal owner of the Boston Red Sox. He is the ultimate maker of decisions--and where was Theo's new contract a year ago? Could it be simply that Larry Lucchino's function within the organization is nothing more than to be a fall guy in situations like this?
A vast minority of people--namely the Boston Globe sports staff, from what I hear, although I haven't bothered to read their pieces for what I hope are understandable reasons--blame Theo. And while I hesitate to embrace such a seemingly obtuse reaction, it is true that his was the final decision. And it could be, as it has been pointed out, that Theo was simply tired. Or that he simply wanted to move on to new things.
The fact of the matter is that as fans and therefore outsiders to the organization, we do not have sufficient facts at hand to make an intelligent decision as to who, exactly, we should burn in effigy in the middle of Kenmore Square. Which is, I'll admit, disappointing, at least to the primitive side of me that simply wants to punish someone for causing this deep unhappiness.
So, then comes that other moment. Denial. The pie-in-the-sky daydreams about Lucchino being the one deposed and Theo reinstated. The one that clings to notions, such as that put forth by Baseball Analysts, that "John Henry intercedes, sits down Lucchino and Epstein, and lays down the law. Hey, it happened in Oakland." There's a large part of me, at least in the immediate aftermath, that simply cannot believe this is happening.
I'll see the words "Theo gone" or "Theo resigned" and they don't register. It's on everyone's lips today--someone even called it "Black Tuesday"--and yet the words simply don't have meaning. Theo? Who's Theo? Hey, have the Sox made any trades yet? Man, it's been a slow off-season so far!
And then at some point, something will happen--I'll be lost in a daydream or doing work or talking to a friend and it comes back, plunges me back into that anger and hurt and desire to punish. All day I've been doing this. Back and forth.
Behind these two immediate and visceral reactions there are a few other feelings rolling in. They were first brought up, and most aptly described, by Mer in aforementioned Neverending Email Thread. "When you cheer for a team," she said,
you're cheering for the laundry, right? But what if sometimes you don't like the things that come with the laundry? It creates an internal struggle between cheering for the team you love and cheering against standards and practices and, perhaps, individuals that you don't love. It's a fascinating internal struggle. Am I the only one dealing with that today?
My first reaction to this was less than graceful. I responded that I was "still in the 'writhing in incoherent agony' stage" and would have to think about it more.
But then, almost immediately, I did think about it.
People have suggested to me a few times that I try my hand at doing this whole, you know, sportswriting thing for real. There have been comments made--by, say, detractors of Steve Silva or Shaughnessy--that I might do a better job. I have always objected to this, because first of all, as a professional journalist in another field, I know that often what's at stake and what goes on on the other side of the copy or footage you see is something people outside the newsroom can't really estimate; and frankly, I doubt my depth of knowledge about the game and willingness to delve into the nitty-grittiest of details, a la Jay Jaffe, to secure a pro sportswriting gig. This is to say nothing, of course, of being a woman in the sports world (on top of being a woman in the already misogynistic world of journalism as a whole) and how utterly brutal it can be.
But the biggest reason I've never pursued attempting to be professionally compensated for my rambling about sports is because I have wanted to avoid precisely this moment. It's something I learned when I made the decision not to continue as a music major in college: that some things are an avocation, are meant to be secondary to one's main focus--that some things only truly maintain their value when they are not one's actual, central life.
This is how the Red Sox, and the Patriots, and sports in general have been for me. And so my major problem with Theo's departure is that it brings some of my personal disillusionments with the world into what had been my escape. That's as close as i can get to quantifying what's really been lost for me in this event.
Those three to four hours were a break. A vacation. Something with simple rules and simple outcomes and a clean morality, if only from the outside. That's what baseball is supposed to be. That's what sports are supposed to be.
What small part of my rational brain has survived this sad state of affairs knows that a double play is still going to be a double play, and it's still going to be one of my favorite things in the world to see. A home run is still going to be a home run. A strikeout, a strikeout. Pitchers will still wind and deliver. There will still be new kids coming up out of AAA and games against the Yankees. But it had expanded beyond that for a while. I'd become smitten with these people, the entire world of it, the characters and plots and intrigue. They formed an atmosphere around the game itself that made the game itself easier to get lost in. Now I may just get back to basics, stay a Red Sox fan out of loyalty to my family and my birthplace and my childhood...but that extra atmosphere is irrefutably gone. As is the escape and sense of the incorruptibility of baseball as a whole.
I don't discount the possibility that I will regain it. Isn't this how people must have felt in '86? When they let Pudge Fisk go? Obviously many of those people are still around, still as gung-ho as ever. Not sure how they did it, and obviously it won't happen right away.
I'm an all or nothing person. Either I'm still going to be on the bandwagon after this or I'm not. Right now I'm trending toward still being on the bandwagon, but the difference is that for the first time in my sports-fan life, I am utterly lost as to what that really means.
And once again, now that worldly things have invaded my sanctum of baseball's imagined nobility, I keep coming back to what I often wonder about the world at large--are things that much worse than they used to be, or have I simply, as a fan as well as in life, reached the age of disillusionment?