Cubs fans awoke this morning sleepy, hungover and deliriously happy. Little do they realize that while they slept (or didn’t), the moral universe in which they exist shifted.
It will never be the same again.
For 108 years you spake as a child, you understood as a child. Now you have the ring, and it’s time to put away childish things.
For 86 years, the Boston Red Sox were the stepchildren of fate.
Like you, we had our litany of disaster.
We could see your billy goat, black cat, Bull Durham and Steve Bartman, and raise you a Curse of the Bambino, an Enos Slaughter, a dashed Impossible Dream, Bill Lee’s eephus pitch to Tony Perez, Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner, Grady Little and Aaron Boone.
No matter what temporary crisis befell them, Yankee fans in the stands or in front of the TVs knew – just knew – that it was all going to work out in the end. Red Sox fans knew exactly the opposite. No matter how great things might look at the moment, we were always braced for the disaster we knew was coming.
Then came 2004.
We are no longer the stepchildren of fate. Now we are the three-time world champions of the 21st century.
We have not forgotten the heartbreak of the past. But it no longer defines us.
Pesky’s hesitation, once a cause for cringing, is now like a story you tell about your lovable uncle who drove the car up on the porch that time.
Bill Buckner has been welcomed back with open arms. Bucky Dent might still get booed, but it’s with a resigned chuckle, not an air of bitterness.
And so with you.
The billy goat exorcisms are over. Leon Durham and Steve Bartman can throw out the ceremonial first pitch at games next year.
Oh, and one more thing.
You’re not lovable anymore.
The Red Sox were never lovable, but nobody hated them, not even Yankee fans.
Before 2004, to Yankee fans the Red Sox were like the annoying fly that wouldn’t get away from your head. Unpleasant, but no real danger.
Baseball fans followed the Sox saga like a Shakespearean tragedy. It came with mournful turns of the head, understanding pats on the back, and the knowledge that it was always going to end this way.
That’s all gone. People hate the Red Sox now. They hate the pink hats and the trendy fans and the probably Patriots-induced arrogance that has moved from the gridiron to the diamond.
Before, when the Red Sox lost, it was “sorry, brother.” Now, it’s “good.”
Cub fans, you are about to enter this world.
You will never again have to live in a world where your team has not won a championship in your lifetime or your parents’ lifetime. The air will smell sweeter to you, the ballpark will be a place of pondered joy, not one of fearful anticipation. The world and all its possibilities have opened before you like a blazing sun emerging from behind a cloud.
Feels good, doesn’t it?
The downside is, the shroud that has protected you from the usual vagaries of fandom is gone.
All that bonhomie with Cardinal fans at Wrigley?
For a century, you too were that pesky fly buzzing around the head of the National League equivalent of the Yankees.
Now, you’re a winner. Which makes you a threat. Which means people will hate you.
Feels good, doesn’t it?