Curses Reversed?

15 07 2007

by maddness

The intrigue of a good sports curse is almost too good to pass up. Seeing a sell out crowd stick with their team in the middle of say, a 50 year losing curse, one can tell who the true fans are. Or can you? There is something culturally “sexy” about following a team at the height of losing, like it’s almost fashionable to not root for the favorite. The intensity seems to be bigger at times, during the curse, than after it’s broken.

Before the Boston Red Sox 2004 Champioship, all the world saw on TV when it came to the Sox were highlights of Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone breaking the hearts of Red Sox nation. The people, as sports fans, had no choice but to feel a moment of collective sympathy for Red Sox fans, as the “bullies” have picked on them once again. Their fans seemed to come to a stadium near you, rooting for the Sox no matter what city they found themselves in. When 2004 came along, the Red Sox and their fans had a great time with their “Rudy-ish” underdog campaign, using slogans like “Cowboy Up” and having endearing centerfielder Johnny Damon self title the team “A bunch of idiots”. Among fans, these themes lived as well, creating a tighter bunch than most sports fans are used to. The pain they suffered each spring through fall brought them together, making Red Sox Nation perhaps the strongest of any fan base in the United States.

Everyone knows how it ended. Dave Roberts stole second base and Bill Mueller hit him in. Enter Big Papi, Mark Bellhorn and Schilling’s bloody sock. Four games in a row to gain the franchise their first pennant in…geez…how long was it?

Dave Roberts steals the biggest base in Red Sox history

Two years later, after all the honeymoon activities from their World Series victory ended, the Red Sox still had Red Sox nation, but the rest of the sports world looked at them differently. No longer will they see the Yankees as bullies and the Red Sox as the constant little kid underdogs, their title having changed the average sports fans point of view to that of . . . indifference. Before 2004, people would gather around, watching Baseball Tonight highlights telling their friends how awesome it would be for the Sox to finally take the Yanks in the AL East. After 2004, that changed to an apathetic, “Where are the Blue Jays?” In many cases, jumping on a sinking ship to give it support, like Red Sox Nation, doesn’t last long. Look at it like someone who is in a relationship for “the chase”. Once you get the girl…uh oh…now what? There is no doubt Boston Red Sox fans still root just as hard for a pennant, but the “it” loses its luster to the rest of the observing world. No more pictures of Buckner and Boone, or that infamous clip of Babe Ruth winking with a cigar in his mouth. Being all the way on the West Coast with no connection to the Red Sox, they are now just another team; not the darling of the league.

The Red Sox return to winning was a unique situation, as they did not take any steps in between. The made the playoffs, beat the Yankees, made it to the World Series and won the Championship all in one shot. There was no “wow, next year, I can’t wait”. Take the Chicago Cubs and how their fans would feel if they made it to the World Series. If they didn’t win, sure, they’d be disappointed, but just the berth into the Series would leave them so hungry for next year. Red Sox fans already ate, and are now just looking for the icing on their dessert.

Giving even more proof that America loves themselves a good old sports curse, just look at the NBA’s 2006-07 Golden State Warriors, 2007 ESPY Award Winners for Biggest Upset, beating the #1 seed Dallas Mavericks in a Best-of-7 series.

These fans cannot wait to get back in the seats, drueling at the possibilities for their Warriors. They “believed” last season, but still need that faith now to pull off what is the inevitable goal…a championship.

From opening tip-off of the Dallas series, the underdog label was placed on Golden State, highlighting that the team had not been to the Playoffs in 13 seasons. The run-and-gun squad quickly captured the NBA’s “sweetheart” image, and gained the highest ratings of any team in the playoffs. Jessica Alba, Snoop Dogg, Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson, Carlos Santana, and many more joined in the fun, hoping this “We Believe” campaign may compare to the likes of “Cowboy Up” and the Red Sox.

So, how do you find the true fans in that yellow pool of “We Believe” shirts? Who is there to see the upset and who has been there for 13 years wearing a yellow shirt during a 20-62 season? The good news is, the true fans don’t care. Sure, they want to be recognized for their loyalty, but a true fan really only cares about one thing; a victory. They will have the same pride in showing their ticket stub from a radom game in 1999 as they would showing you their 2007 Playoffs shirt. Bozo the Clown could be in the audience wearing a “We Believe” shirt, but if the W’s won, the true fans would be happy, and that’s what a “true” fan is. They want their team to always win, no matter if they are watching from a packed house of bandwagon fans or from their portable TV at the office.

Perhaps the “true” Red Sox fans woke up the morning after they won the title in 2004 and said “Man, I can’t wait for next year”. True Warrior fans would undoubtedly follow suit and because the ultimate goal has not yet been reached, the “sweetheart” image can still be worn. Will the people see true Warrior fans next year or will they have to wait until they win it all? One would have to be curious to see what Alba, Snoop, Hudson and the rest would say the morning after a Warrior championship.

Re-live the Warrior magic, thanks to Ko8e.com

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