Last night I went out on the town with an old friend. He still lives in Philly where I used to live and where I know him from, but he's out here in Portland, Oregon on a short vacation and took the time to look me up. We had a nice old time. He was quite taken with the city and all its charms and asked me, what the downside to living here is. Far away from friends and family, I told him. Then I looked at my phone and saw this:
This season has featured injuries, disappointments, losing, injuries, more injuries, more losing, even more losing, a franchise altering trade, and still more losing. In short, it's been awful.
In the beginning of Spring Training all the projection systems project the season out a thousand times or ten thousand times or whatever, and somewhere, hidden way out on the periphery of their projections is this season. The season where the Orioles are good, where the Red Sox didn't so much fall apart as never get going in the first place, and where the Yankees rush out to first place only to blow a 10 game lead to Baltimore. It's the ultimate outlier season, the season every casino in the country is terrified of.
And, at the end of this horrific mess of a Red Sox season, we've been treated to some of the worst Red Sox baseball in the last decade. It's easy to get numb to it. Oh, the Red Sox lost again. Oh, the Sox got blown out again. Oh, the Sox blew a lead and lost in the ninth again. It's easy to start to expect not just failure but grand and painful failure. The true plight of Pirates fans and Padres fans and fans of every other team that haven't won anything in forever becomes more real because we are now, for one season at least, walking in their shoes. And those shoes are old, waterlogged, moldy, and give you blisters.
But still, last night.
I don't want to make too much out of one meaningless win. The Sox beat the Yankees. Big deal. Boston is still 15 1/2 games behind New York, so this doesn't mean squat in the standings to the Red Sox. No, this is about pride. It's about winning the game in front of you. It's about beating the team in standing in front of you, and when that team has "New York" across their chests, maybe there's just a little bit more at stake.
For one night at least the Red Sox were a major league team, not a Triple-A-level punchline waiting to boot you in the nether regions. For this one night they beat not just a contender but their historic rival. Not to sound too medieval about it, but last night the Red Sox made the Yankees hurt and maybe it makes me a bad person to say so, but that makes me happy*. In this wasteland of a season, this might be all there is left, but actually, for one night, it's something pretty significant.
*I should note that I am fortunate enough to know and even be related to some wonderful people who are Yankees fans. Wonderful people. This doesn't mean I love and admire them any less. It just means, "Ha ha!"
For this fan, beating the Yankees never gets old. Never. They're too good, too successful, too good looking, too clean cut, and too good (did I mention that already?) to get tired of watching them lose. In a way, it's a compliment. If they weren't any good, nobody would care. Red Sox fans don't get worked up about beating the Royals for a reason. You're supposed to beat the Royals. It's expected. The Yankees are not only the preeminent franchise in baseball, but they're the richest and they've never been shy about throwing that money around. Beating them is an accomplishment worthy of note.
In a season marked by the Red Sox rejection of that so Yankee-centric idea of buying good players in route to a championship, that the Red Sox could beat New York with a lineup of Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and a bunch of nobodies might not mean anything in the bigger picture, but it sure was fun. And after all, that's what watching baseball is all about, right?
Last night I got to hang out with an old friend and, if you watched the game, so did you.