(some ninja moves would be most helpful right about now)
Nope. No way, no how. Not happening. Ain’t now way the Sox are blowing a division lead to the Yankees and being kept out of the playoffs by the Indians. It’s not happening. Someone said they wanted this to be easy. This is the Red Sox. We don’t do “easy.” We wanted the Yankees to roll over and die. The Yankees don’t die for anyone. They’re the proverbial horror movie villian who needs to be shot with a twelve-gauge, diced up with a chainsaw, buried under fifteen feet of molten lead and blown up with TNT before you can be sure they’re dead. And even then, you better sleep with one eye open.
So this was never going to be a cakewalk. Nobody gives you a free pass because of what you did the year before. Ask the Patriots and their tough as nails schedule. (Speaking of, screw YOU, NFL.) Nobody cares what odds you’ve overcome in the past. This team, this 2005 Red Sox team, has made like Dante in “Clerks” (We’re not even supposed to be here!), one too many times for me to believe it any longer. And you know what? They were right. They were.
They weren’t supposed to be here. It’s incredibly difficult to repeat. Especially when you consider that the ace of last year’s team (or both of them if we’re being picky), and last year’s lights-out closer are both ineffective at best and a smoking disaster at worst. Only one of the team’s MVP-caliber sluggers is pulling his own weight. Our bullpen enjoys firebombing games and our clubhouse is replete with guys named “Chad.” They were right. They weren’t supposed to be here. But you know what? I’m not buying it anymore.
I’ve heard the expression that the year after a championship is like playing with the house’s money. I don’t buy that either, because they’re playing with my money. I am not one iota less invested in this pennant race this year as I was at this time last year. I’ve got the sleepless nights, the mysterious stomach pains, the curious decions to call toast and coffee “dinner” because it’s all I can keep down. And somewhere along the line, the team went from being so wrong, it’s wrong, to being so wrong, it’s right.
The very fact that they’re not supposed to be here is why they belong here. They belong as defending champions. Hollywood and professional sports love dramatic stories and ain’t nothing more dramatic than a team that has no business winning it all, well, winning it all. And I want it all again.
Greedy? Selfish? Entitled? You know what? I don’t care. Bring me another championship. The difference, as I see it, between that mindset and the nauseating mindset of Yankees fans, is that they believe they deserve another championship. They believe it’s owed them simply because of who they are. Us? We know we have to work for it. I don’t expect anyone to hand this team anything. I expect they’ll have to claw and scratch and fight for every last inch. And that’s the way I’d want it.
A battle well-fought is always more satisfying than a battle wherein the opponent rolls over and dies. There must be blood, sweat and tears – of the players and the fans – to make it all worth it. This time is no different.
Which brings me to that picture up there. The Red Sox of recent years are kind of like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They’re loud, crude, obnoxious, repleat with catchy but annoying sayings (“Cowboy Up” is totally the Sox version of “Cowabunga”), and I’m pretty sure Kevin Millar orders his pizza with peanut butter and pepperoni. They’re ridiculous and they make no sense and pretty much have no business being the success they are. And yet, somehow, it all works out in the end. Shredder and his henchmen? Manifestation of the Yankees. My memory is a tad rusty but I do believe that Shredder meets his untimely demise at the hands of a dump truck trash compactor. And I’m pretty sure the last thing he heard was “Cowabunga!”
It may seem silly for the Sox to take their inspiration from an early 90’s kid’s cartoon that only made a smidgen of sense to begin with. But it’s not like anything else the Sox do makes any kind of sense. So why the hell not?
I want to see us swinging for the fences and playing with every ounce of heart we have. This is not last year. This is THIS year. And this year is now. I want us to keep playing until they turn the lights off and tell us we can’t play anymore. Until they kick us off the field and lock us out. And then I want us to sneak back in and keep right on playing. ‘Cause we’re not going out like that.