Amid all the celebrating that's surely going on in Boston today I wonder if a more poignant note hasn't gone unnoticed.
For me the Sox, and especially the Sox fans, have always been symbols of some of the finest of human qualities: perseverance, optimism and loyalty in the face of adversity. More than two dozen Series pennants hang in the Bronx yet the fans there regularly boo the home team. The Fenway fans endured an eighty-six year dry spell yet remained the most loyal fans in baseball. Whenever the Sox and Yankees met a little morality play unfolded before our eyes. Even die-hard Yankees fans had to secretly admit that if there were any justice in the cosmos Boston, and surely their fans, really deserved to win more. But somehow that didn't measure up to the sheer beauty of seeing the Sox, against all odds, maintain their faith after losing yet again.
I think all this is somehow a metaphor for the human condition. All of us are mortal. There can be no doubt, at the end of our personal Series, who will be the victor. We may make some great plays in Game 3, and we may even stretch things to extra innings in Game 7, but when the final strike is called death will walk away with the pennant. Nonetheless we struggle up to bat, we take our place on the mound (even with blood soaking our ankles) and we continue to play. There is nothing so noble as man defiant in defeat, hopeless yet unbowed. This is the stuff of high tragedy, of history, and of legend. And until last night it was the Boston Red Sox.
Did they deserve to win? No doubt. They've deserved to win yea these many years. They deserved it and I'm happy for them. But I cannot help thinking that something important has passed away; that the Red Sox, baseball, and all of us have somehow lost a real connection to the thing that is best about humanity: that quality that makes us go out and try again, and try our hardest, and believe that this is finally the year...even when we've already tried and failed eighty-six times.
Do I have something against the Sox? Some of my Sox-loving friends seem to think so. I suppose I have something against Charlie Brown, too, because I think he just wouldn't have been the same if he'd ever managed to kick that football. I have something against Sisyphus because I think his story is far more profound than those of the millions of nobodies who managed to get their boulders to the top of their hills. Victory is thin stuff, as the Yankees fans have amply demonstrated; its joys last only until the next inevitable defeat. The Sox had something finer--they had unfounded faith, irrational courage, and unreasonable loyalty. I don't doubt that the virtues are still there, but the game last night dispelled the adjectives that made them truly rare and glorious. That, my friends, is a heavy loss.
[Lostingotham is a die-hard Astros fan. He'd never admit it, but in his heart of hearts he's pleased to still be rooting for a loser. - Ed.]