Well, isn’t this a kick in the Richard.

The 2016 World Series started, and one of the storylines is the plethora of ex-Red Sox on both the Cubs and the Tribe. As a Red Sox fan, this feels a bit like running into an ex-girlfriend and finding out they’re crushing the game of life—they’re better looking and more successful and infinitely happier now that you’re off the scene.

Let’s start with the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, our former wonder-boy, Brookline’s Theo Epstein. If Theo is capable of countering both of baseball’s storied curses, he’ll effectively stamp his ticket into Cooperstown.

And I never wanted the Red Sox to break up with Theo. I couldn’t believe Dr. Creepy chose Larry Lucchino over him. But now Theo has the Cubs and Eddie Vedder, and it seems Theo is really happy so I’m happy for him.

Not really, but I want to be.

Then there’s Tito, who managed a mangled (literally, Trevor Bauer’s finger in ALCS was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen) and an underwhelming Cleveland team to the goddamn World Series, stopping on his way to wipe his feet on John Farrell’s Red Sox.

Terry Francona was, and will likely always be, the best Red Sox manager of my lifetime. His leaving after the 2011 September collapse, being thrown under the bus for The Beer and Chicken Boys, was an unfortunate end to an otherwise impressive tenure in Boston.

Speaking of those Beer and Chicken Boys.

Honestly, I could care less about John Lackey. While I admired his grit in 2013, I always found him to be a bit of a dink, showing up his fielders when they made an error or failed to chase down a fly ball. Lackey left and not a tear was shed. Lackey was effectively replaced by Joe Kelly and Allen Craig, the latter who I believe might be more proof of The Mandela Effect. But I haven’t thought about John Lackey in years.

That’s not the case with Jon Lester. Jon Lester, my first full-blown baseball man-crush since Nomar. As I watched Lester accept his co-MVP trophy after the NLCS, standing on that stage, so calm and unflappable, I missed him so much that I wanted to cry.

And let’s not forget that Lester wanted to stay in Boston and was willing to accept a hometown discount. But Larry Lucchino—who Dr. Creepy chose over Theo, who later wooed Lester to the Cubs—didn’t want to give John Henry’s money to Lester, the same money that Dave Dombrowski would later give to David Price, the unequivocal worst postseason pitcher in baseball history.

And now we have to watch Lester lead another team into the World Series. And this is to say nothing of Andrew Miller, or Mike Napoli, or David Ross, or Coco Crisp, or even Anthony Rizzo, who was a prospect in the organization.

Yes, indeed. This is a big kick in the Richard.

[Writer’s note: I apparently jinxed Jon Lester the same way I jinxed the 2014 Red Sox, The Pats and anything else I praise.]

[Another writer’s note: The fact that A-Rod and Pete Rose are sitting on the Fox Sports’ pregame panel is further evidence of The Mandela Effect.]

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Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. His most recent books include Hangover Breakfasts, a collection of short prose pieces (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), a novella titled Sort Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and his new and selected poems titled My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014). A new collection of short fiction titled Almost Christmas will be released in 2017. For more information, visit his website: www.nathangraziano.com

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