[stepping up to the podium]
I'd like to welcome some of you newbies to our club. I see a lot of young faces out there... a lot of shock and anger... some confusion. Before I start tonight's talk, I'd like to just reassure you that those feelings are normal.
I know some of you are, what... 18? 20? I know a few of you are even in your mid-20's. That means you were born in the mid-to-late 80's and, as much as this hurts me to say, early 1990's. If that's you... please... hold all questions and comments until the end.
Actually, don't talk at all.
You see, even I, born in the... ugh... early 70's... don't feel comfortable preaching about this, but here I am. You have just, by virtue of the Red Sox soiling themselves nightly throughout the month of September, been allowed access into our club. It's called "being a Red Sox fan."
I know, I know, you thought Aaron bleepin' Boone got you in. But all that did was reserve your spot in line. And honestly, after 2004 and 2007, we weren't even sure we were going to let anyone else in for at least a couple of decades. But the elders... well... the elders thought it was time.
The fact is, what you just witnessed was finally something on a par with what the rest of us have been subjected to for a long, looooong time. Do you even recognize that picture?
I was crying when I watched it on my parent's big Zenith TV encased in a wooden box. Bill Buckner? Blowing the 5-3 lead in the bottom of the 10th in Game 6 and then... THEN... having a 3-0 lead in Game 7 and blowing that too? Bob Stanley's pass ball?? Calvin Schiraldi????
Excuse me... I need a tissue.
That was just one of the gigantic kicks we have all received to the collective nuts over time. There was Bucky-bleepin'-Dent 13 years before some of you were even born. There was the high of Carlton Fisk's home run to win Game 6 in the 1975 World Series followed by losing a 3-0 lead at home in Game 7.
Oh... I'm not going to go on about all of it. You can look it all up. Honestly, I still can't talk about it all, despite the two titles. The images... they just bring me back to the heartbreak.
What a lot of you don't realize, or at least didn't until now, is that it hasn't always been like this. The Red Sox weren't always the be-all, end-all top-dog in town. Did you know only 13,414 showed up on the night Roger Clemens struck out 20 Mariners in 1986? Can you imagine Fenway park... today... at less than half capacity for a game?
I remember back when I was a college kid in Boston... again, painfully, when some of you were still learning how to suckle... and we'd watch the first six innings of a Sox game on TV an then head down to Fenway when they opened the gates and let anyone in to watch after the 7th inning.
Yeah, they actually did that. Because the Sox weren't the biggest thing in town at that point.
My point here, besides ambling through my own memory banks to make sure they still work, is to remind those of you who haven't shared the same experience that there always has been more to being a Red Sox fan than rooting for a big market team with a mega-payroll that can buy its way out of a jam. I hate to say it, but the things people say about us nowadays are kinda true. We're just like the Ya..... the Yan..... The Yank......
Shit, I can't say it. But you get my point. A $160 million payroll is a $160 million payroll, no matter how you slice it.
But that gigantic payroll only served as one huge setup for your inclusion into our club. You thought it was all in the bag. You thought all that time in first place and then cruising into the playoffs because "the division didn't matter" was just part of the championship plan.
Well, they gotcha. And they gotcha good, too. The fates... oh those little bitches... they even conspired to have the Rays win just minutes after the Sox lost... just to rub it in.
That... THAT... That's being a Red Sox fan my neophyte friends. That's like branding that big, horned "B" right on your ass. Pain... forever ingrained in your memory. It's like your first tattoo, really. And the rest of us are regulars on LA Ink.
And to any of you fans of other teams who may have snuck in to this meeting... this isn't a "woe is us" session. This is just what it's all about. Believe it or not, it doesn't even really mean as much to the rest of us.
Because those two World Series wins were SOOOOOO much more satisfying. They meant so much more to us because of all the crap we've endured. 2007 wasn't that long ago. We've got a lot of scar tissue. We know this wound will heal.
But these young kids. You 20-somethings... or younger... you'll learn. This scar may be one of many you'll have as a Red Sox fan. Because it comes with the territory. And that's something you're finally learning.
Welcome to the club.