Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Is This Sox Fan Changing Allegiance?

As many people know, my favorite team is the Red Sox. In fact, the banner at the top of my online blog describes me as “a Recovering Atheist, Baby Boomer, Left-Handed Red Sox fan.” The accompanying photo shows me proudly wearing my Sox cap. Citizenship in Red Sox Nation is one of my primary points of identification.

In the summer of 1967, as a wide-eyed 10-year-old, I was dazzled by the exploits of Carl Yastrzemski during the “Impossible Dream” pennant-winning season. Ever since, I’ve been passionately following the fortunes of the Crimson-hosed Batsmen of the Back Bay. For many decades, it was an agonizing adventure. But then during the past dozen years, the Sox did the unthinkable: they actually won the World Series three different times. For someone who repeatedly intoned New England’s official communal prayer, “Please, Lord, let me see them win it just once before I die,” the last 12 years have been an embarrassment of riches. (And yes, I realize they came in last place three out of the last four years. But c’mon, remember how depressing it was in ’75, ’78, ’86, and ’03? Remember how we ached to see them win it just once? Don’t start acting like a Yankees fan. The fact is, even if the Sox end up in last place every year for the next half century, we have witnessed more glorious success than we ever dreamed.)

So, now that the 2016 season has begun, I have only one thing to say: this year I hope the Chicago Cubs win the World Series.
Wait. What?! The Cubs? Why the Cubs?

Let me explain. Do I love the Red Sox? Of course. But I also love the game of baseball. So I can empathize with fellow fans in other communities (except the Bronx). Remember the “Curse of the Bambino” and all those chants of, “Nine-teen, eight-teen!” and that ridiculous 86-year timespan since the last time the Red Sox had won? Don’t let the three recent championships make you forget all that frustration and humiliation.

Well, if you think the Red Sox drought was long, the poor Cubbies have not won a World Series since 1908. Yankees fans used to mock us for the 86-year gap, but the Cubs have not won in 108 years!

The last time the Cubs won it all, Teddy Roosevelt was president, and his ambitious fifth cousin Franklin was only 26 years old. In 1908 The Great War (later named World War I) was six years off into the future, the first commercial radio broadcast was still 12 years away, and the luxury ocean liner “Titanic” was still on the drawing board. In 1908 Henry Ford introduced his revolutionary Model T automobile, the Grand Canyon was designated a national monument, and for the first time a ball dropped at Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
In 1908 the following persons were born (now long deceased, of course): Rex Harrison, Bette Davis, Edward R. Murrow, Jimmy Stewart, Ian Fleming, Milton Berle, Carole Lombard, and Lyndon Johnson.

In 1908, a popular new song was “Shine On Harvest Moon.” Another popular new song that year, ironically, was “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Let’s face it, 1908 was a LONG time ago!

If any ball club, if any fan base, deserves to see their team win, it’s the Cubs. Therefore, I am rooting for them this year. It just seems like the right thing to do.

However, if it turns out the Cubs square off against the Red Sox in the World Series, my revised attitude will be: Hey, Cub fans have been waiting quite a long time — and they can wait a little longer.

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