Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My Guys v. More Titles: After Winning Again, I Prefer The Former

Sure it'd be nice to get Santana but when do I get to root for "my guys?"

Word is that the Santana for Ellsbury/Lowrie/Masterson/??? trade is coming to a head and may actually get itself done. And while the idea of watching Beckett and Santana pitch on back-to-back days is an exciting proposition, so was the prospect of watching Jacoby Ellsbury manning centerfield for the next decade. The difference with Ellsbury was that he had the potential to be "our guy" and now it looks like we'll be rooting for someone else's guy. In the game that has become Major League Baseball, that's kinda par for the course, I guess. But that doesn't mean I can't want it to turn out differently.

Someone is going to trade for Johan Santana. That much is certain. The Twins can't afford him, they likely aren't going to win (especially now with Detroit so loaded) and the longer they wait the less the chance that the teams the Twins need to be involved (the Sox, Yanks, Angels, Mets & Dodgers) will need to grab him. I also understand that the trade with the Sox, as it is outlined in the media, is a virtual no brainer from the Sox perspective. They get the best pitcher since Pedro in the prime of his career and don't have to give up a single member of their rotation, bullpen, or starting lineup from last year's team. It will make the team better without depleting the farm system too greatly as the Sox have an abundance of pitching talent in the minors and both Jacoby and Lowrie are relatively replaceable guys (in the sense that neither is projected as a corner power guy). I also get that one of the reasons you develop a strong farm system is to poach players from teams who cannot afford them. And lastly, I'm well aware that even if Jacoby Ellsbury exceeds expectations and becomes a Carl Crawford-like talent as opposed to the .300, 10Hrs and 40Sbs guy he projects to be, his career will pale in comparison to that of Santana's. But with all that being said, I'd still rather have Jacoby.

I'd never have said any of this 4 years ago. Are you shitting me? I'd have traded Buchholz, Jacoby, Hazel Mae and my scrotum for Santana. You could throw in anyone else and I would've ok'd it. But now after winning 2 World Series, the game is completely different. My fanhood has changed entirely. In 2004, people, though are loathe to admit it today, were rooting for the Red Sox to pull it off. I received congratulations from people are hardly knew who were genuinely excited for me that the Sox won. Now, Sox fans are hated. And while other people's opinions of me don't necessarily affect how I feel about my team, the difference does represent a change in the entire image of what it meant to be a Sox fan then and now. Today, we are supposed to win. We are supposed to be players for the highest priced players and our GM is supposed to make the best deal for the team regardless of how "loyal" we feel towards the players it takes to make those deals. For me, it was fine when we needed to win to end the bullshit of the 1918 chants and force the retards who bought the "Got Rings?" t-shirts to throw them in the toilet because the Sox number keeps going up. But now, with the team and organization legitimized to a degree and those chants gone and those shirts rendered irrelevant, can't the Sox just hold back on this one and try winning it again with our guys?

You see now, after all the bullshit and the two World Series, I find myself rooting for different things. Yeah I cheer when Julio Lugo gets a big hit or grabs his crotch for the 50th time, but I'll never love watching him play. I loved the stories of Pedroia, Lester, Buchholz and later Jacoby. When I turn the TV on to watch the Sox play, those are the guys I'm most excited about seeing (Note: there is some hypocrisy here considering my favorite all-time Red Sox player in Manny, and he was not really "my guy" in the same sense that I'm pulling for the Sox to stick with "my guy" Jacoby because he was drafted by the team. But we can just forget all that for the timebeing...). I like watching them get better and watching them go f'n nuts whenever anything good happens. Those players haven't been tainted by the monotony yet. They aren't cynical. Their eyes are still wide when the cameras come on. They sneak a peak into the stands at big moments (and when famous people are in the stands) and take a deep breath and need extra time to collect themselves when things are clearly overwhelming. When you see a guy in that situation you want him to succeed not just because it will benefit your team but because you want HIM to succeed. I'm not saying it doesn't matter as much to guys like Julian Tavarez or Kyle Farnsworth, but as a fan it's much more gratifying when you are convinced the guy on the mound or at the plate would be up there if he were being paid $50. Maybe I'm naive, but the young guys are I root for on the Sox at least give the impression that they would.

Listen, I'm not saying I'm not going to brag about having Santana or not enjoy the 2008 season (and seasons thereafter) because this Sox team has the potential to be the best team they have ever fielded. Hell, I'll likely be even more insufferable than I normally am about the Sox. But if they do get rid of Jacoby it will be a huge buzzkill for me that clouds the entire season. I'm fine with making this Sox team the best it can be, I just think the team could be pretty damn good with "my guys" on it. And if the decision comes down to fielding the favorite to win the World Series with "my guys" or fielding the overwhelming favorite for the World Series without them, well, I guess I've made it clear how I feel.

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