Postgame Spread
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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Massholes On Parade: Retroactive Edition    

It's Opening Day at Fenway, the last of like eight opening days over the past week. What better occasion for the second installment of my periodical series on self-hatred:

And it's not just any opening day. Today, the Sox have given us the opportunity to celebrate one of the biggest Massholery victims of all-time: Bill Buckner.

Buckner had not been back to Fenway since his brief return to the team in 1990. On that day, he received a thunderous ovation on Opening Day that year, and was released a couple months later. He's been living in Idaho ever since, in relative anonymity.

Today, however, Buckner traveled east to be the centerpiece of the Sox' opening day ceremonies (as opposed to the ring ceremonies that preceded them), receiving a loud and raucous standing ovation as he threw out the first pitch. There was nary a dry eye at Postgame Spread headquarters as he walked out from the Green Monster. Looked pretty dusty around Buckner, too.

So, where's the Massholery, you ask?

For starters, Bill Buckner is not owed our forgiveness, nor has he ever been. WE should be begging HIS forgiveness. Our media (for whom we must take responsibility) chewed him up and spat him out for us, and we've been gnawing at him ever since. Nobody who's made such an honest mistake deserves to be put through everything he's endured, especially not someone as decorated, as accomplished, and by all accounts as classy as Buckner. It's a testament to him as a person that he leads a happy life in spite of public perception, because it could have been a lot worse. The author of the Globe article above, Stan Grossfeld, asked Buckner if he sought forgiveness from Boston. That question needed to be reversed.

Second, regardless of the polarity of today's ceremonial apology, it was too little, too late. A wonderful gesture, of course, but it's all too easy to extend an umbrella now that the sun's out. Bill Buckner Day should have taken place DECADES ago. A World Series victory should not have been required to make this day as forgiving as it felt; we should have had the integrity, as a fan base, to visibly and sincerely beg his forgiveness in the immediate aftermath. The 1990 ovation (which I remember) was the truly beautiful gesture. I'm proud that we, in our darkest period, had enough class to do that.

I wonder whether it would play out the same way ever again. Today was nice, but let's not shit ourselves. For all that today was a great thing, the crowd also made time to boo Edgar Renteria, loudly, in his return to Fenway. What was the point of that? On a day of celebration and happiness, we saw fit to boo someone who was clearly miserable here? Gee, I wonder why. Boston has not booed its last goat out of town. Shame on us.

Eh, enough Masshole hate for today. From here on out, I will gladly accentuate the positive on what I saw today. It was genuinely moving, especially to someone who has a lot of trouble dropping his grudges. I'm grateful that Buckner agreed to receive the ovation he so sorely deserves, but equally grateful to have the moments of self-reflection his return inspired.

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