Alright. I have to be honest.
With all due respect, I hate the Chicago White Sox.
It’s not because you guys prevented my beloved Red Sox from repeating as World Series champs in 2005, dismissing us in a quick and painful ALDS. It’s not because of your manager, Ozzie Guillen, the human irritant. It’s not even because I hold a grudge over that whole Black Sox scandal thing.
It’s because of one man.
I grew up in a Red Sox-loving home, where dinners were “earned” by responding to correctly to Carl Yastrzemski trivia, and a photo of Tony Conigliaro hung next to a photo of Jesus.
And my favorite player, above all, was Carlton Fisk.
I had the shirt. The baseball cards. The poster. Even the puffy hand, which was exceptionally cool since they hadn’t even been invented yet back then. But I had ’em. And I charted the man’s every move and tried–haplessly–to emulate his moves on the Little League diamond. He was the Commander. He was Pudge. He was the guy who took shit from no one, especially no one named Thurman Munson.
Well, we all know how that one turned out. After the 1980 season, management forgot to mail Fisk his contract (yet, tragically, remembered to mail Luis Aponte’s). Fisk, sensing the dis, jumped ship to Chicago for a cool $3.5 million.
As a kid who loved all things Fisk, I was devastated. Watching Fisk come back to Fenway in some of those godawful White Sox unis (including this lovely number-around-the-balls get-up) was bad enough. Seeing him always seem to come up huge against us with a key hit or home run was even more painful. It was like he’d been born again, enjoying some of his best seasons and actually logging more time with the White Sox than the Red Sox.
At least the man had the good sense to enter the Hall of Fame in a Red Sox cap. But in my eyes, the damage was done. I’d been robbed of a chance to watch my childhood hero play out his career with the hometown team. And it leaves a void that just won’t ever be filled, despite my best hooker- and alcohol-fueled efforts.
So please understand that, beginning tonight, I’ll be heartily rooting against you guys.
And, somehow, somewhere, I have a feeling that my man Pudge will be doing the same.
Red is one-half the crew behind the surprisingly tolerable Red Sox-centric Surviving Grady. The World Series celebrations were nice, but you can guess who he still hasn’t forgiven. He lives in Boston.