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Friday · October 29 2004

With Nothing Left to Win, Fans of Red Sox Suddenly Feel a Loss

“They're going to be heartbroken at not being heartbroken,” said Mr. Epstein, a novelist who is chairman of the creative writing department at Boston University. “It's not just a joke. That's what's made us unique. We were the Boston Red Sox that never could win.”

Uh, hello? 96 years of unique losing over here at Wrigley.

What you had to say:
October 29 2004

That's exactly why - after starting out Saturday as a "fellow underdog" fan of the Red Sox - I found myself rooting for the Cards about three innings into the series. I've made note in previous seasons of the weird urge Red Sox fans seem to feel to ignore Cubs fans existence. It certainly isn't true of every one of these bean shitters - some of them are friends. But I'm proud I'm a Cubs fan instead. We're not without our hangups but we aren't nearly so engorged by self-pity.

October 29 2004

While the Cubs are certainly in a prolonged slump, I feel that it is the White Sox that deserve the new title as the most forlorn franchise. The Cubs may be have that goat curse going against them, but at least they have "the friendly confines" and Cubs fans generally seem to be upbeat about their situation. And I'm not aware of any Buckner-like moment in Cubs history that really puts a sharp point on the misery.

The White Sox are more than cursed. They are damned. Of all the bad 1970's uniforms, they had the worst. They have last of the crappy pre-Camden Yards stadiums. They're in the less fashionable end of town - tourists to Chicago never say "Oh, let's go down to Comiskey Park (or whatever it's called now)." They've got the Black Sox scandal as an iron chain permanently hanging around their metaphorical necks, as they wander the earth like Marley in "A Christmas Carol."

If the Cubs are cursed and the ChiSox are damned, then teams like my favorite, the Reds, or the Pirates, and maybe the Royals are probably best described as ghosts. Not quite dead, but not really alive either. Doomed to eternally be a few pitchers short of third place. But at least we have memories of better days gone by.

October 29 2004

Leon Durham 1984

The Buckner moment before THE BUCKNER MOMENT.

Other teams are farther off than the Cubs. The Reds have had plenty of days in the sun, as have the Pirates. Both powerhouses in the 70s.

I'm not gonna touch any Cubs/White Sox arguments here and none better start. The real issue here is that sports writers of the East coast believe the baseball world is Yankees, Red Sox, period.

96 years is the longest period without a championship.

October 29 2004

That last point is certainly true (although you forgot the Mets. When the Mets are good, the East Coast writers pay attention to them and sometimes the Braves and the Dodgers too). I'm tired of that too. Now that the Red Sox have got it out of their system and we can all move on, I think my patience for this "old firm" approach to baseball coverage will grow thin.

Yes, the Reds and the Pirates were powerhouses at one time, but the chance of it ever happening again seems very remote given the current financial structure. Their faded glory makes it that much sadder.

Is it better to have a bright future or a bright past? I'd pick the former.

Contrast that to the circumstances of the Cubs who, despite the 96 years of futility, have everything going their way toward a much brighter future. I strongly feel that a Cubs World Championship is inevitable. Maybe not before you reach the magic Century mark, but inevitable nevertheless.

October 29 2004

The Pirates get no sympathy from me. They make boneheaded moves. They've had Aramis Ramirez, Brian Giles, Kris Benson, and who knows who else, and what have they gotten in return? Not a whole helluva lot. Look at what the Brewers got for Richie Sexson. Granted, the Brewers still suck, but they got better. They took one superstar and traded him for a bunch of okay guys. The Pirates traded 3 guys of Sexson quality (or just about Sexson quality) all over the league and got a sack of crap.

The A's are competing with less money. The Twins are competing with less money. The Reds are a garbage organization nowadays. The Pirates are downright clueless.

Regarding inevitability, it always seemed inevitable that the Red Sox would win as well, but they never did. That's the whole point here. Good teams that find a way to lose. The Red Sox are wrong in thinking that they are unique in that capacity.

October 29 2004

BTW, Reed, thank you for the baseball discussion. I love the back and forth.

November 01 2004

Agreed. Nobody else I know really cares about the National League.

I don't take much comfort in the A's or the Twins' success. They've succeeded, not because money doesn't matter, but because they take advantage inefficiencies in the market (overvalue of some players, undervalue of others).

However, eventually the rich teams will get smarter too and player valuations will come in line to their real value to the team's record. The Red Sox success this year is the first sign of that. Then we'll be back to square one with the Yankees, Red Sox and a few others dominating. It will only get worse if and when the Yankees build a new stadium and really start maximizing their revenue.

The Twins are a well managed operation like the A's but their record is boosted by playing in the AL Central, where every other team is roughly in the same financial boat as they are.

The Pirates are indeed pretty stupid, but, as you mentioned, the Brewers are a lot smarter and still not very good. It seems the most that the Reds, Brewers, or Pirates can aspire to is third place, and that's assuming that the Astros underachieve.

Nevertheless, I don't know if the Reds are still the garbage organization they were in the mid to late 1990s. Since they got a new GM and manager last year, they seemed to have gotten a lot smarter. Larkin and Griffey are taking up too much of their payroll, but that situation may be remedied soon. Their owner is a right-wing kook, which is unfortunate, but Marge Schott was no picnic either and yet they managed to win a championship in spite of her.

I think the perception of the Cubs-vs-Red Sox curse, in the east anyway, is that the Cubs have failed because they've always been so poorly managed while the Red Sox, having come close so many times, have just been unlucky. I don't buy that at all. I think the new Red Sox ownership (well, new as of a few years ago) really highlights how bad their management/ownership has been throughout the 20th century, suggesting that maybe it wasn't just bad luck. I don't know what is holding the Cubs down now, but I'm pretty sure it's not just a curse.

I still say a Cubs championship is inevitable, because the franchise is so valuable, sooner or later somebody competant will buy it and make it happen. That may not happen in our lifetime, but it will happen.

© 2004 Jason Keglovitz