If a space alien craft were to land in my Man Cave, said terrestrial beings would observe the following items (in no particular order): a Boston Red Sox throw-pillow on a futon with a folded Boston Red Sox fleece blanket; three Boston Red Sox hats on a shelf below the television (a regular Red Sox hat, navy-blue with a bold red “B” and white outlining; a beige 2004 American League Champions hat; and a new navy-blue 2018 World Series Champions hat); a laminated front page of The Boston Globe from Oct. 28, 2004, with the headline reading YES!!!, hung below a pair red socks that I wore each night on the 2018 postseason run, thumb-tacked to the wall; two jerseys, a white home and a gray away, hanging in the closet; a Nomar Garciaparra bobble-head and a painting of Pedro Martinez done by a friend, a Yankee fan.
The alien craft might reasonably discern that the inhabitant of this basement space is a fanatic, obsessive, singularly focused on this one concept/entity. And they would’ve been right.
I have not typed a sentence about the Red Sox since they won their fourth World Series title since 2004—an idea at one time inconceivable after Aaron Effing Boone blooped a Tim Wakefield pitch for a walk-off home run in the 2003 ALCS.
Usually, by this time in the winter, I’ve been glued to the Hot Stove, following with baited-breath each small signing by the general manager. For example, last year, I sanctimoniously declared that the Sox should walk away from the JD Martinez contract.
I’m still in the process of extracting my foot from my mouth on that one.
But here’s the thing. This year, since watching not only the most dominant Red Sox team of my lifetime but one the best baseball teams I’ve ever seen, I’ve found myself smitten, like a man rubbing his belly after a robust meal.
This winter, I couldn’t care less. I know that the Sox signed Mookie Betts to a one-year $20 million contract and avoided arbitration, although Dr. Creepy, John Henry, will have to open the checkbook and let Mookie fill it out after next season.
I know that Head of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, sensibly, will not overpay closer Craig Kimbrel, who proved himself to be a fair-weather and goofy-posed princess, his carriage turning into a pumpkin in the postseason when it mattered.
I know that the Red Sox are scheduled to visit the White House and that petulant child currently occupying that space—maybe there will be a towering stack of Big Macs awaiting the Sox upon arrival—in early February before they report for spring training.
But, otherwise, I’ve been unplugged to the team, and this is unprecedented for me. I’ve always lived for the Boston Red Sox, and now—with pitchers and catchers mere weeks away from reporting—I’m somewhat stunned by my indifference.
Maybe this is symptomatic of New England sports’ fans in general. Every year—ho-hum—The Patriots will go to the AFC Championship game. After 86 years of jack-shit and heartbreak, the Sox are the most dominant franchise of the 21st Century. And even the Celtics and the Bruins have thrown in a couple of titles.
Winning is now ennui in New England. Imagine that.
As the first real snow storm threatens to dump on New England this weekend, I’ll always seek out baseball for its promise of spring. But there’s a part of me that knows I’ll never see a team better or more dominant team the 2018 World Champion Boston Red Sox. And with that realization comes complacency… with a dash of sadness.