Joe Lavin

November 2, 2004

Championships: A Beginner's Guide

What will happen if the Red Sox ever win the World Series? It's a question that was finally answered last week, and surprisingly Boston is still standing. So far at least, the apocalypse has not yet arrived. God must be holding that back for when the Cubs finally win. Here, though, is a little of what to expect if your favorite sports team suddenly ends an 86-year championship drought.

You will spend a rainy Saturday morning outside with 3.2 million of your closest friends.

That's how many people showed up for a five-mile "rolling rally" for the Red Sox, even though the rally started at ten o'clock on a weekend morning, a time when most self-respecting rioters are still asleep. That's more than twice the number of people who attended the last Patriots championship parade. It's even a million more than were there for the Pope's visit in 1979. In your face, John Paul! Sure, you may be holy, but we've got a centerfielder who looks like Jesus.

There will be endless joy and/or alcohol.

Fans will fly in from all over the country for your parade. Random strangers will hug each other. 20-year-olds will sing Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" without a trace of irony. And fans will cheer at just about anything. On Saturday, I saw a Dunkin' Donuts 18-wheeler cheered. "Whoooo! Small Child! Go Small Child!" one woman screamed at the six-year-old boy in front of her. Later, she walked by somebody's bike: "Whoooo! Bicycle!" Let's just say she was easily pleased.

By the way, I'm guessing here, but this outpouring of joy might have something to do with the large number of liquid containers that people happened to be carrying around in paper bags. When 3.2 million people gather in one place, it seems that police tend to let a lot of things slide.

Once and for all, your team's fans will stop obsessing about your bitter rivals and just enjoy the moment.

Then again, maybe not. There were still several "Yankees suck" chants on Saturday, though for once it did seem that the "Let's Go Red Sox" chants were slightly more prevalent. Still, the Yankees were definitely on our minds. One man was busy selling "Yank these!" t-shirts, World Series MVP Manny Ramirez was holding up a "Jeter is playing golf" sign that a fan had handed him, and first baseman Kevin Millar proudly displayed a charming "The Yankees aren't our Daddies. Their [sic] our bitches" t-shirt to the crowd.

I suppose it says something about me that I was more concerned by the bad grammar than the profanity in that shirt. Shame on you, Kevin, this is a family event with young children present. They shouldn't have to see grammar like that.

Your team will help decide a presidential election.

Perhaps I'm exaggerating a little, but last Thursday there was Red Sox star Curt Schilling telling viewers of "Good Morning America" to vote for Bush. He almost traveled with Bush in New Hampshire last week, and yesterday he appeared with the President in Ohio and also recorded Bush phone messages to be played for New Hampshire voters.

New Hampshire, of course, is a swing state in the heart of Red Sox Nation. While Kerry seems to be leading there ever so slightly, the Curt Schilling endorsement could very well swing a few key voters. Hey, I've never liked Bush, and there was even a small part of me thinking, "Well, if Schilling likes Bush, maybe he's not so bad."

The Kerry campaign countered this by reminding Red Sox Nation that, as owner of the Texas Rangers, Bush opposed the wild card, through which the Red Sox made the playoffs this year. "When legions of Sox fans go to the polls on Tuesday, they'll remember that if George Bush had his way the Red Sox wouldn't have ever won the World Series,'' Kerry Spokesman David Wade told reporters.

He was joking. At least, I hope he was joking. Otherwise, I don't want to think about the possible television commercials: "The evidence is clear. George Bush is anti-Red Sox. Can we really trust a man who voted against a Red Sox World Championship?"

Kerry also campaigned with Red Sox management, which really isn't the same as campaigning with a star athlete. Here's what they really need to do in the final hours of the campaign: Get Derek Jeter to endorse Bush. Do that, and New Hampshire will be back in Kerry's pocket before they know it.

Certain people will write articles about how your city's sense of identity has forever been altered and how in some small way it's sad that your team is no longer special now that it's won a championship just like everyone else.

These people are stupid. Ignore them.

Despite winning a championship, many fans will still immediately start planning for next year's season.

Some habits are tough to break. Besides, here in Boston, we would all like to experience this feeling another time, preferably some time before 2090.

©2004 Joe Lavin

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