The World Series starts tomorrow. The best team in the American League, the Red Sox, are playing the best team in the National League, the Cardinals.
Both have been recent World Series winners (Red Sox in 2007 and Cardinals in 2011) but they also have had a lot of changes. Francona, Manny, Schilling and Varitek are no longer in Boston. Gone are Tony LaRussa and Albert Pujols in St. Louis.
There is new blood in this World Series rivalry as they face off for the fourth time dating back to 1946, 1967 and 2004.
Transplanted New Englanders and Midwesterners are found all over the country, giving this World Series a chance to play for an audience bigger than the Metro St. Louis and Boston areas. And there are few places in the world as baseball mad as those two cities.
If this were football, this would be a dream match up of Pittsburgh and Dallas.
If it were basketball, it would feel a lot like the Lakers and Heat were facing off.
So this is a dream match up, right?
Twitter and social media must be buzzing.
Here are a few samples of what seems to be the prevailing thoughts about this World Series on Twitter.
shoutout to the cardinals and red sox for ruining october. this could possibly be the most boring world series of all time. #WeDontWantYou
— Sully Bortner (@scborts) October 20, 2013
Red Sox Cardinals world series will be so boring that both teams will play in special beige uniforms — Jesse Hawken (@jessehawken) October 20, 2013
red sox cardinals would bethe most boring world series, right when you think baseball makes a comeback the world series gets boring — Dominic⚡Luongo (@dougdimmaD0ME) October 18, 2013
No one wants to see a Red Sox Cardnals World Series. Two boring teams that everyone’s so so sick of seeing in the playoffs
— Zach Sums (@ZachSum17) October 17, 2013
And trust me, there were a LOT more.
What’s going on here? This is more than anger towards baseball. And who can see the dynamic pitching of the Cardinals, the hard hitting Duck Dynasty look a likes on the Red Sox, the big hits of Carlos Beltran and the infectious enthusiasm of the Boston Strong squad and call them boring?
If the exact same players were wearing Tigers and Pirates uniforms, would people be excited for them? Or A’s and Dodgers?
Really is it the franchises that are turning people off? It isn’t as if new teams in the World Series suddenly get people super excited.
Was there a national buzz for the White Sox and Astros match up, or Phillies and Rays or Giants and Rangers World Series that I missed?
For Red Sox and Cardinals fans, if we wonder where the animosity came from, the answer is in the mirror.
As a lifelong Red Sox fan who has lived in New York, the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles county, let me assure you, people hate us.
And I think no small part of that is, at one point, we said we WERE going to go away. All we wanted to see was one World Series victory before we all died. If we saw that, we’d be OK.
And for years our team fell on their face in spectacular fashion and it made our insecurity all the more entertaining for the rest of the baseball world.
I remember when I was at an playoff game between the A’s and Red Sox in Oakland, people were holding up pictures of Babe Ruth wearing an A’s cap. He never played for the A’s. But the fans were coopting the storyline that had the Bambino playing for whomever was playing the Sox.
But eventually the storyline became stale and people starting pulling for the Red Sox. And when Boston came back in a way that we hadn’t even dreamt of (down 0-3 with Rivera on the mound?) we got our World Series.
And then we didn’t shut up as promised.
In fact we became worse. It turns out we were as self centered and obnoxious in victory as we were in defeat. No more lovable losers. We became “Yankees North.” For most of the country, they lumped the Yankees and Red Sox in the same muttering breath.
The Red Sox became the big spending, roided up bully franchise that stole players from other teams, just like the Yankees did. People would say to me “You are like the Yankees now. How does THAT feel?”
I would reply “It feels great! It is what I wanted all of those years.”
It was a strange insult. It was like saying “You look like Brad Pitt. I bet you wish you didn’t.”
The Red Sox won another World Series three years later and we still didn’t shut up. In fact the great collapse of September of 2011 and the horrible season of 2012 seemed to be enjoyed by a lot of non New Englanders who didn’t mind seeing Red Sox fans knocked down a peg.
Of course in the light of the Marathon Bombing, some sympathy returned to Boston. However much of that good will was bestowed upon the Bruins, whose frantic Stanley Cup Finals appearance appeared almost right on the heels of the tragedy.
With no Yankees in the post season, the Red Sox became the big bad bullies. And while a worst to first scenario with an unlikely band of bearded misfits would normally be a feel good story, the fact that it gave Red Sox fans new fuel is enough to turn off to a lot of fans.
Essentially Red Sox fans are Anne Hathaway.
At one point, they were adorable and lovable. Like Anne Hathaway, Red Sox fans seemed to have a self deprecating sense of humor.
There was something disarming about Anne and relatable. And there was a warm sense of family among Red Sox fans (provided you were from the area of course.)
But then lots of good things started happening to Anne Hathaway. And when she tried to play her “Oh shucks I’m just a lucky girl” act while being showered with stardom and accolades, it started to sound phony.
Similarly, when post 2004 Red Sox fans started talking about their team, everyone else started rolling their eyes and waited for us to start losing again.
Essentially what the collapse of 2011 and disaster of 2012 was for the Red Sox, bombing at the Oscars was for Anne Hathaway.
But both the Red Sox and Anne came back, much to the disgust of just about everyone. The Red Sox became not only a pennant winner, but one where Sox fans can blather about team chemistry and unity and facial hair.
Likewise, Anne Hathaway not only got to be Catwoman but won the Oscar in a role where she was basically screaming into the camera “Give me the damn Oscar.”
The bitterness that I hear from people regarding the Red Sox now sounds similar to the venom that was on display all through social media when Anne Hathaway said “It came true” to start her Academy Award acceptance speech.
But hold on Cardinals fans, you are NOT off the hook either.
People are a little sick of you all as well.
The word most often used to describe the Cardinals is “boring.” Although watching the team, that would probably be the last adjective that would come to my mind.
They pitch well, they field well, they hit well and they have a flair for the dramatic.
And while they seemed to not like the on field antics of the Yasiel Puigs and Adrian Gonzalez’s of the world, they don’t seem to be a boring club themselves.
I truly believe people are bored how Cardinal fans are portrayed.
My friend Erin Foley articulated it on her brilliant podcast Sports Without Balls. She said that she is sick of hearing about how great the fans are in St. Louis and that they are supposedly the best in the world.
She’s right. I know I’M sick of hearing that.
It may be true, but I’d like to come to that conclusion on my own!
I’ve found myself saying once or twice “You know Cardinal fans are some of the best in baseball. It’s a great baseball town.” Then I stop myself.
I’ve never ONCE stepped foot in St. Louis in my life! I’ve seen Major League Baseball games with 21 different fan bases in 19 different cities. St. Louis was not one of them! So where the hell am I coming up with that statement?
And I know a handful of Cardinal fans and they seem dedicated. But are they more dedicated than Royals fans across the state who haven’t had a decade and a half of playoff appearances recently?
Are they better than A’s fans who watch their team playing in one of the worst stadiums in the land while one of the crown jewels is right across the Bay?
Are they better fans than Met fans who stay true despite the Yankees playing across town? Or Mariners fans who have never even seen a World Series with their team?
Yet we are told over and over that no fan base is like the Cardinals. And some of us are puking every time we hear that.
I’ll say it. Cardinal fans are Gwyneth Paltrow.
Remember when she burst onto the scene in the mid 1990’s? [SPOILER FOR SE7EN]. Sometime around the time her head was in a box in Se7en she was dating Brad Pitt and was every place. On every magazine cover, in every interview and with the release of every Miramax film, we were told over and over again that WE LOVE HER.
I remember my friend, the award winning writer and comedian Chris Regan, saying around 1997 “I can’t wait to be reminded that Gwyneth Paltrow is my favorite actress.”
We were told how talented she was, how beautiful she was, how graceful she was, etc.
And yet who was actually excited to see her movies? How many people ranked their favorite Gwyneth Paltrow films?
Yeah, she is pretty and she is not without talent. But can we come to that conclusion ourselves?
Eventually she won the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love (a nice movie, but when was the last time you thought of it?) She is lucky there was no Twitter for her tear soaked acceptance speech or she would have received the Hathaway treatment. (Besides, Cate Blanchett was much better than year in Elizabeth, but I digress.)
And then the backlash began.
That’s St. Louis fans. A lot of people are sick of hearing how great they are, especially when they are always in contention.
So if you are a Red Sox fan or a Cardinals fan wondering “Why are so many people against this World Series?” look at it from another point of view:
This World Series is Anne Hathaway vs. Gwyneth Paltrow. Which side would YOU root for?