In this space yesterday, I vigorously defended my fellow Red Sox fans’ honor against unfounded snipes by over-eager Rockies fans. The Red Sox are not the evil empire, I argued. Sure, we get a little crazy, a little annoying, but that’s love and it’s beautiful. Don’t hate us because we’re beautiful.
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Unfortunately, reading the top story in the Boston Globe today made me question my assertions. My city’s big sports writer – the one who has made his name and fortune by beating to death the idea that some sort of supernatural occurrence involving Babe Ruth was to blame for the 86 years of Red Sox games – decided he wanted to use his column space to crap all over the opposing team. No big surprise about last night’s Game 1 route, he wrote: Everyone was expecting this series to be a cake walk for Boston. The Rockies, he continued, were a bunch of stale nobodies. “Faceless punching bags,” he called them. I had to re-check the masthead; for a moment I thought I was reading the pompous bloviating of a Yankees reporter.
Don’t get me wrong; I loved last night’s game. Every embarrassing second of it. But not because it fortified my belief the Rockies are a bad team. Far from it. I watched the Rockies the past month; I know what drives them: cold, hard chutzpa. It’s terrifying. They were playing hard and playing clean and didn’t have any of the emotional or psychological baggage that trips up nearly every team in baseball. It’s that baggage that destroyed the Cleveland Indians last week. They were riding high, on their way to the World Series, and with one with clunker of a ALCS Game 5, they fell apart. It had been too long since they’d gone all the way, they decided. There were too many problems, too many Achilles heels. It was that same irrational insecurity that held the Red Sox back for decades upon decades, and not some make-believe curse. My team was the reigning losers in “mentalball” my entire life – until something happened in 2004. For some reason, they discovered they could lose one, two, three huge games and still win it all. Unluckily for the Rockies, they’re playing with that same confidence right now.
That’s why I was glad to see the Rockies get bloodied up a bit last night. For my team to win the series, I knew it wasn’t about them just playing well, it was about them screwing with the Rockies’ heads. Knock a little of that swagger out of their step, give them something to think about in the locker room. Most teams in baseball can’t recover from a loss like that. Then again, as we all know, the Rockies aren’t your typical baseball team. So what’s it going to be, Blake Street Bombers? You going to lie down and prove all those uppity East Coasters right? Or are you going to be the one team around that plays with more heart than mind, and makes this a World Series to remember?
Over the past month, the Rockies have proved themselves baseball players. Over the next few days, they’ll show whether or not they know how to play ball. – Joel Warner