Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Posted by el duque at 7:09 AM
Well, folks, here is the reality:
We will never, in our lifetimes, live down 2004. Won't matter if we make it to the asteroid, the zombie apocalypse, or the death panel hearing: Some caustic Redsock frat-boy will mention Mariano's blown save just to watch the last bubble from our lip, the last blip on our flat-line. Curt Schilling's ketchup sock will never go away.
So... giving the Great Mariano a big check and a bunch of door prizes was simply an excuse to hold a beery 2004 nostalgia party, like the one we ruined when Fenway turned 100. This was always fated to happen. No reason to get angry. Next year, or maybe in 2015, when Derek Jeter runs his final lap, maybe we should reconsider sanctioning such events. But we will deal with 2004 forever. That's a fact.
But there was something particularly Redsockian about Sunday night's party, and it goes to the nature of honoring a closer. Imagine Big Papi's final game at Yankee Stadium, and some misguided attempt by us to honor him. Would we post a cavalcade of his strikeouts on the Jumbo-Tron? Would we show all his errors (back when he actually played in the field.) No, of course not. Because that's not how anybody would remember him. Ahh, but a closer...
There is no role in baseball - or in all of sports - like the closer. Yes, football has the QB and the place-kicker, but they both play an entire game. The closer comes in for three outs. Thus, every game has the potential for a Buckner moment - the kind of disaster that most players experience once or twice in a long career. If you think about it, focusing on Mariano's blown saves was really a petty thing to do. Everybody knows he blew it in 2004. Everybody. It was like a comedian using the same catchphrase three times, then four, then 10 times in the same routine. They didn't have to reference it. They could have been so much above it - and everybody still would have remembered it.
So they gave him a chunk of the scoreboard, the big check, a nice ovation and - get this - a painting of them giving him a standing ovation. Yes, they commissioned a self-portrait of themselves basking in their great moment of forgiveness and generosity.
They have this self-image of being evolved from the days when they traded Carlton Fisk, booed Wade Boggs and tore down Roger Clemens' pictures. They really like the notion of a painting that shows them standing graciously for Mariano. That's how they want to see themselves: Enlightened, forgiving, fair, magnanimous.
What a joke.
Another disclaimer: I recognize that my lowest incarnation as a human being is the monster inside me that roots for the Yankees. As a Yankee fan, I am a bi-polar, borderline, psycho nutjob. Always was, always will be. I believe that because I am a bi-polar borderline psycho Yankee fan, I am not one the rest of the time. The Yankees are what saves me from living under a bridge and talking to Pez dispensors. (Take that, Dr. Melfi!) Therefore, I am going to give Boston fans a little slack here and say what I believe they were thinking, as that "tribute" played.
"Aw, this is so wrong. We are ridiculing a great player - he's the one being gracious, not us. And sometime, down the line, we will pay for this."
That's for the future. Are you watching, Slade Heathcott?