Thursday, September 29, 2011

You call that a choke?

This is going to come across like one of those "back in my day" rants triggered by early onset dementia, but if that's what it takes to put the Boston Red Sox 2011 collapse into its proper perspective, so be it. To be sure, blowing a nine game lead in less than a month and losing the wild card on the last night of the season is an epic choke, but in history's catalogue of Red Sox catastrophes, it ranks as a distant third at best.
1978: Boston squanders a 14 1/2 game mid-season lead and loses a one game playoff to the hated Yankees on a home run by banjo-hitting Bucky Dent, whose pop fly into the net atop the Green Monster at Fenway Park would have been a routine out in any other ballpark.
1986: the Red Sox are one out away from winning the World Series when Mookie Wilson's weak grounder skips between Bill Buckner's legs and wins Game 6 for the Mets, who go on to take Game 7 and the Series, spawning yet another legend in which a Boston bartender supposedly turns to the inconsolable patrons in his packed establishment and says "The son-of-a-bitches killed our fathers and now they're coming for us."
The Dent and Buckner disasters both prolonged a world championship drought that began in 1918, and that popular superstition claimed was rooted in the team's ill-fated decision to sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees. The vast majority of the team's fans in 1978 and '86 had lived a lifetime of losing, often in the most improbable, spectacular and heartbreaking fashion. Red Sox Nation today knows nothing of that kind of torment, having won two World Series in the last seven years. For them, anything else is still gravy, which is why they'll get over last night's goings-on and forgive Jonathan Fucking Papelbon a lot quicker and easier than earlier generations recovered from Bill Fucking Buckner and Bucky Fucking Dent.

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