Thursday, October 21, 2004

RIP at last, Babe

I had a dream this morning that I was looking at the front cover of Sporting News, which featured a picture of a weeping Johnny Damon with the words WOULDA COULDA SHOULDA in big block letters.

Then I woke up and realized that all the trauma was behind me. The pain, the resentment that began in 1977 when the Yankees beat the Dodgers in what would become two straight World Series, the frustration that culminated in last year's ALCS Game 7, when they came back from a three-run deficit to beat the Red Sox in extra innings--it's wiped--no, power-washed away.

The Sox haven't won the World Series (yet), but for me, the job has been done. See, I'm much more of a Yankee hater than I am a fan of any particular baseball team. And last night, the team of perennial prima donnas showed the world what magnificent losers they could be.

This has to cut deeper than last year's World Series loss to the Marlins, or the ALCS punt to the Angels in '02, or even the 2001 World Series blown save in the bottom of the ninth to the Diamondbacks (quite possibly one of the greatest moments of my life). For whether the Yankees admit it or not, Boston is their nemesis. They feed off of their annual humiliation of their neighbor to the northeast. Like a playground bully, the Yankees' sense of self is rooted in the denigration of their victims, a role that the Red Sox have played for nearly 85 years.

And in the same way that it's hard to keep hating a bully when he's lying on the ground, broken and beaten, sobbing and blubbering at last, it's hard to maintain my loathing of Jeter and Company, especially knowing that their boss is going to flay them alive, then staple their skins back over their bodies inside out. It's hard to hate a bunch of losers.

But somehow I'll manage. Because there's always next year.


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Jeri Smith-Ready is a Maryland author of books for teens and adults.

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