Red Sox Welcome Back Bill Buckner...and the Frauds Applaud
I had the opportunity to live and work in Boston for about four years, and, as a New England interloper, I was forced to endure the wailing and gnashing of teeth from many a Red Sox fan, the real ones and the gaggle of bandwagon jumpers.
In the last few years, the latter group has become the dominant force of nature there, while the true fans have been buried under a sea of pink Red Sox hats and fawning members of the local media who never met an on-camera ego trip or a free meal they couldn't pass up.
And they know who they are. Then again, so does everyone else in that town. But I digress.
Makes no difference who it was or how the conversation rolled around to Bill Buckner, but one thing was ice-cube clear.
People hated the man with an unbridled passion.
Not once did I meet an everyday fan who did not want to take some pointed object and impale Buckner with it for what he did to them, even when some of the homicidal horde was barely old enough to urinate without diapers when it happened.
My friends in the press corps, a different story. They knew the back stories while also knowing full well the scope of idiocy shown by some of these fanatics. Not fans, mind you, but dangerous fanatics.
Which is why what happened in some pockets at Fenway Park for the Red Sox 2008 home opener seemed more of a fawning embarrassing lie than a true welcome back to someone who has, for years, been forced to endure more baseball anger and verbal abuse than Steve Bartman.
Red Sox ownership did what previous spiteful management failed to do, and welcomed Buckner back home with the ceremonial first pitch.
Knowing full well how most of those in the seats felt about him made for some conflicting emotions from Buckner. Wanting to drink it all in, to savor redemption, failing to wear his bullet proof jersey, or knowing exactly how the Christians must have felt.
I wasn't there, but I would be willing to bet a large number of those applauding were those who would have rather come to bury Buckner, not to praise him.
The same ones who, while applauding, turned to anyone within speaking distance and uttered more than one four letter word demeaning the front office for even taking one iota of a second to consider bringing this bumbling fool back to Fenway Park.
Still they cheered, most of them, knowing it was a lie. In this case, one might actually have more respect for the ones who rained down catcalls because they were, at the very least, being true to themselves and their feelings.
I met Buckner last year at a youth baseball event in New Mexico, and, while making small talk, he knew better than to even mention Boston, and those who knew him well indicated it was the right choice.
Buckner was engaging, but had been hardened over the years thanks to the treatment of slack-jawed Red Sox followers who conveniently forgot there was another game in that World Series following Buckner's error.
One more game they could have won, and no one would have ever thought twice about that mistake. One game the entire team failed to win, where Calvin Schiraldi and Al Nipper were like cats with hairballs coughing up leads and handing the game to the Mets.
They never tasted the violent hate spewed by these IQ-challenged bottom feeders. Just Buckner. Only Buckner.
It's hard to recall any one player in recent baseball lore that has been as vilified as Buckner for one single play in one single game.
That, and the manner in which the bile grew with each passing day and poisoned more than one generation of fans who would have better spent their time enjoying the game and their team than spending precious hours being bitter about having their title stolen from them.
Rest assured that, despite the welcome back, the good tidings, the smiles, and the applause, many a ticket holder left that game still laughing and deriding Buckner for how he single-handedly ruined a game, a Series, a season, a City, a region, and the dreams and aspirations of many who since have lived tortured lives mired in a living Hell from which there is no escape.
One can only hope that, as he was leaving Fenway Park, Buckner secretly thumbed more than his nose at those who sentenced him to such ignominy for so many years. He deserved so much more than this one moment returning to the sunshine.
And those who still will curse Buckner and remind their children of the man who purloined their dreams in a wanton act of thievery? They deserve exactly what they get for the rest of their miserable lives. Living in the mental squalor they created and will pass on to the next generation of lemmings.
Though some will thankfully see this lie for what it is. A sad excuse that turns base hits into hate and poisons everything and everyone around it.
Congratulations to Red Sox ownership for righting a massive wrong.
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