Putting the ALCS in perspective
Boston fans have been blessed, and the climb back to No. 1 isn't far
I've been trying to sort out my feelings since the Red Sox's Game 7 loss to the Rays in the American League Championship Series, so I turned to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's Dr. Michael Miller, who is also editor-in-chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, for a little help. I knew I could trust him to be straight with me because, although he's a native New Yorker, his father despised the Yankees and passed that admirable trait along to his sons. (You never want to talk to a psychiatrist who'll gloat about your misery.)
"If you're anything like me, you're a lot more well rested. I don't miss the late nights, and I don't miss the stress," Miller said. "I was watching the World Series with my wife the other night, and she said, 'This is actually much more relaxing when your team isn't in it.' I think we are like a lot of Sox fans -- there's disappointment for sure, but it's not like it used to be."
That's when he put his finger on it. Gone was the bottomless well of self-pity that we used to drink from. There was not the kind of wailing and gnashing of teeth that followed the heart-wrenching loss to the Yankees in 2003. This time around the result was, dare I say, acceptable?
"I don't know that most Red Sox fans would say the result was 'acceptable,' but I do think they are a little more understanding," Miller said. "As much as we heard about the Rays folding under pressure, they didn't. And it's not like the Sox lost because they did something stupid. The Red Sox pushed it to seven games, and most of those were pretty competitive."
He added that winning a couple of World Series titles does change things.
"It is easier to say, 'You can't win them all' when you've won two in the last five years," he said.
As sports fans in general, we have been blessed with success. Perhaps you've heard about the Patriots' three Super Bowl championships and the Celtics' most recent title. If the Bruins ever pull out of their funk, it would be an embarrassment of riches. Still, there is the impulse to be greedy, to want it all even when you know you can't have it. That is especially true when it comes to the teams we root for.
"As humans, we want to be part of a group," Miller said. "We don't like being the outsider. I don't completely understand why we get so caught up in sports, but I think it has something to do with the fact that there are fewer and fewer things to join together around. Sports may be one of the last safe places to express our tribal nature."
As a tribe, we have gained a different perspective. We realize that we can put this in the past. We don't have to live there.
"What I'm most sad about is the warm weather being gone," said Miller. "You've got to keep the big picture in mind. I believe most people think that management -- and by that I mean ownership, front office and coaching -- is working hard to be successful. In terms of leadership, it might be fair to say people feel better about Red Sox management than they do about the management of the country. If I may borrow a phrase, 'The fundamentals are strong.' "
Where have I heard that before? Hey, it's no fun to be pushed off the top of the heap, but you've got this going for you, Sox fans. The climb back may not be all that far, and perhaps most important, you can still look down on Yankee fans.
Gary Gillis is a contributor to MLB.com. The BID Injury Report is a regular column on redsox.com. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is the official hospital of The Boston Red Sox. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.