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by alex ciepley
I am a Cubs fan. I've pledged allegiance to Chicago, for better or worse—though mostly, it seems, for worse. Every year the Cubs don't make the postseason, however, I find myself inevitably drawn to one of the remaining teams. I root fanatically for them, almost as if they were wearing Cubbie blue pinstripes. Almost.
In 2001, I was pulling for the Diamondbacks. If ever there was a year where I would have let down my Yankee-hatin' guard, I suppose this would have been it. 9/11 had just devastated the city (and nation) where I lived, the Bronxers were managing some improbable and inspiring late-inning comebacks, and I suppose I could have been forgiven for cheering my hometown team just once. But no dice. I remember jumping up and down, screaming joyfully when Luis Gonzalez got that dinky hit past Jeter.
2002 surprised me. I was fairly indifferent about the NL teams but was avidly rooting for the Contraction Baby Twins to shove one up Bud's derriere by winning the Series. The Anaheims snuffed out that candle, but I was still okay with them, mostly because they'd embarrassed the Yankees in round one. I fully expected to be rooting for the Angels against the Giants, but from pitch one in the World Series I realized I sided with San Francisco. I was pissed when they lost.
2003? Well, my rooting interests in that postseason are pretty obvious. And let's just say I wanted—somehow, someway—both the Yankees and Marlins to lose the Series in incredibly painful ways.
This year, I knew who I'd be rooting for in the postseason before the first game. If not the Cubs, then Go Sox Go. The sweep in Anaheim was wunnerful, the first three games against the Yanks were disheartening, and the last three have been inspiring.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I can let myself dream big dreams right now, and hope that the Red Sox will win tonight's Game Seven. I still think the Yankees will win (you can drag the Cubs out of the postseason, but you can't drag the doom out of the Cubs fan), but I'm no longer an impartial observer. I'm invested big-time. My eyes caught only slivers of pitches in the final innings of the game yesternight: that's the view when you're bent over, nauseous, peeking through hands that are covering your face.
Even if the Sox lose Game Seven, it'll have been an impressive postseason for them. Buster Olney, in his live analysis last night, said, "If the Red Sox lose, this will rank second to Buckner, just ahead of Grady-gate, in all-time Boston heartbreaks." This sentiment has been echoed throughout news reports: The Great Boston Tease.
I just don't see this at all. What's heartbreaking is to blow a three-games-to-love lead, not to come storming back from such long odds to force one final showdown. If the Red Sox lose, it will be Custer's Last Stand (well, without the tinge of a Lieutenant Colonel's stupidity), not a Buckner ground ball.
It may be little consolation to the die-hard faithful in New England, but win or lose Boston has already provided its fans with a bundle of feel-goods this series. I, by allowing my baseball allegiances to be borrowed for a few weeks, have shared in the feel-goods. We're getting paid for overtime in New York, and I just want one more win for the visitors.