What will happen when the Boston Red Sox win the World Series?
This is a very good question. A city, a state, an entire
region--all of New England--has not only lived with failure for
82 years but also embraced it. How will the populace react?
Fathers have handed Red Sox failure to their sons as a
birthright. Those sons have handed it to their sons. The Sox'
failure is a fact of New England life, worn through the winter
as if it were a good set of L.L. Bean long johns, resistant to
the cold and snow, an itchy constant, part of the promise that
spring will bring a better time.
When the Red Sox win...well, that will change a few things,
The Day the Red Sox Win the World Series: The euphoria will be
obvious. Half the babies in the greater Boston area born on this
date will be named Nomar. The other half will be named Pedro. The
girls among them will have to live with this.
Doris Kearns Goodwin, Concord, Mass., resident, author and
historian, will appear on 27 different television shows on 27
different stations from a studio in suburban Watertown to say
that this was a case of "man triumphing over original sin."
The anchorpeople from all the major networks will broadcast live
from the riot in Kenmore Square, three blocks from Fenway Park.
The crowd's chant, even though the Sox prevailed in the end over
a National League team, will be "Yankees suck!" A dozen cars will
be set on fire, all with New York license plates.
The cows in Bellows Falls, Vt., will increase their milk
production by 150%.
Peter Gammons will cry on camera.
Church bells in every town and hamlet in New England will be
struck 23 times at midnight in honor of righthander Pedro
Martinez, who wears uniform number 23. Leftfielder Troy O'Leary
will be named Honorary Irishman of the Year by the South Shore
chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Centerfielder Carl
Everett will be made an honorary citizen of the city of Everett,
Mass. Bachelor first baseman Brian Daubach will receive 2,784
proposals of marriage.
A Harvard professor will find an analogy to the Red Sox' victory
in Greek mythology. An MIT professor will describe the physics
behind Nomar Garciaparra's swing, Pedro Martinez's fastball and
general manager Dan Duquette's use of speed dialing to make
trades. A professor from Bunker Hill Community College will say
that what the Red Sox did was "way cool."
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, noted Cambridge natives and Red Sox
fans, will be arrested in Hollywood on drunk-and-disorderly
charges. The Farrelly brothers of Rhode Island, creators of
cinema epics Dumb and Dumber and There's Something about Mary,
will be stopped for speeding at 120 mph, wearing only their
underpants, the song We Are the Champions screaming from a
loudspeaker mounted on the roof of their car.
The plaque at the entrance to the Ted Williams Tunnel will be
Bottles of champagne and wine, ready to be opened on a certain
night in 1986, will be uncorked at last. Bill Buckner, somewhere,
will breathe a large sigh of relief.
A registered witch in Salem will claim credit for the win, noting
that she had removed the Curse of the Bambino before the season
started. She won't mention that she also had lifted the Curse
before each of the previous 25 seasons.
Mayor Thomas Menino, master of the malaprop, will congratulate
Red Sox manager "Timy Williams." Senator Edward Kennedy will talk
for a long time about "the greatness of Yaz" before an aide will
whisper to him. Then he'll talk about "the greatness of Nomar."
He'll pronounce the name no-MER. Everyone will agree that plans
for the new Fenway Park will hurtle along at breakneck speed.
The operative Boston phrase will be wicked pissah. This day, this
event, will be truly wicked pissah.
Day 2 to 364: The edginess will begin with the morning hangover.
The morning headlines--SOX END 82-YEAR QUEST, WIN SERIES in the
Globe and GOTCHA! in the Herald--will be fine, and the morning
radio voices of Matt Siegal and Charles Laquidera will be
excited, but something will be missing.
The space on the mantel where that unopened bottle of wine or
champagne sat for all those years will be empty. Should the
bottle be replaced? Why?
The familiar postseason conversations filled with sarcasm, with
perpetual laments--"we need another bat" and "we need someone who
can steal a base"--will be gone. Husbands suddenly will become
sullen. Wives and children won't understand.
Duquette, back at work, will for the first time since he arrived
in Boston in 1994 go through a day on the job without getting
advice from a cab driver or waitress, friend or family member.
A Globe columnist will compare the Red Sox' situation to Susan
Lucci's win of an Emmy after 18 years of trying. Who the hell is
Susan Lucci now? Just another actress in just another soap opera.
Many heads will nod.
Psychiatrists' couches in suburban Newton will be filled. The
shrinks will ask, "How do you feel?" The reply will be, "Empty."
Goodwin won't be called by a single talk show.
The plans for the new Fenway will be put on hold. Season-ticket
renewals strangely will be down, way down. Why travel the same
road twice? If there is no crusade, then why ride the horse?
The milk production from the cows in Bellows Falls, Vt., will
first drop back to normal, then drop way below normal.
Damon and Affleck will announce in separate interviews that they
are "getting serious" with their lives. The Farrelly brothers in
Rhode Island will announce that their next movie will be about
disaffected youth living in a time of cultural malaise.
Ted Williams will say he "just doesn't pay much attention to
baseball anymore. Damn it."
The plaque at the entrance to the Ted Williams Tunnel will be
returned. The officials in charge of operating the tunnel will
announce that they are unsure about putting the plaque back in
place because they are negotiating with certain high-tech dot.com
operations about a deal to sell the naming rights for "a lot more
bucks than Ted Williams ever could give us."
The winter will arrive, colder than ever before, no warmth to be
found. The spring will arrive, suddenly bereft of promise. The
summer will be flat and dull. The fall?
The next World Series and the next and the next will be simple
competitions. So what if the Red Sox win it all again? So what if
they don't? They'll be just another team, no different from the
Devil Rays or Diamondbacks, hired Hessians on the job. They'll
have no history to amend. They'll be a form of entertainment, a
show, not the heart and soul of New England. Their individuality
will be gone.
Doris Kearns Goodwin will announce that she's now a Chicago Cubs
TWO COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS: ILLUSTRATIONS BY DAN PICASSO