For those of you struggling to blow the dust off your memories of sophomore English in high school, A Picture of Dorian Gray is the playwright Oscar Wilde's most celebrated novel about (surprise) flamboyantly vain, hedonistic homosexual men, one of whom (Dorian Gray) sells his soul to stay forever young and handsome and debauched and gay. The catch: his gruesome soul is reflected in a portrait of him painted by his gay painter friend, Basil, a portrait that turns hideous.
I'm not sure where the portrait of The 2011 Red Sox is hanging, perhaps in the bedroom of owner/crypt-keeper John Henry and his impossibly hot young wife (she doesn't care about his money), but wherever it is, I'm guessing the uniforms are sprouting pinstripes.
Boy, I did a lot of leg-work to set this up: The Red Sox have turned into the Yankees.
Let me start by acknowledging that, in the past, I have been one of the most vociferous critics of the Spank-boys off-season spending sprees in an attempt to buy rings. Let me also point out that only once in the past decade has that worked. On the corners in the infield at the new Yankee Stadium are two players the Red Sox coveted, and the Yankees swept up with their bags of cash, symbols of the abject humiliation felt by Sox fans, the perpetual underdog-ness. To carry my book analogy to the next level, The Yankees have always been the Lord Henry's, the older (and queer) proponents of self-indulgence without heed of the luxary tax.
With this week's signings of both Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, The Red Sox have essentially sold their souls to look beautiful through 2017. Listen, I'm not complaining. Like any fan, I want to see my team win; although in my case, I also want to see The Yankees suffer from a stubborn case of season-long diarrhea that has their player awkwardly squeezing their cheeks each time they enter the batter's box. However, something about this week's signing feels wrong to me.
Here is my full-disclosure, seeing I spent most of this week trying to be as obnoxious as possible to my Yankee-fan colleagues and friends, who are now in the unenviable position of having to sign Cliff Lee until he's 72 years old. Behind my fist-bumps with fellow Sox fans, I've been hosting a vague malaise, a feeling like this isn't right. It's as if The Red Sox got a makeover, and they look much, much nicer, but they don't look like The Red Sox anymore.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I've needed to come to terms with the fact that the climax of my life as a Red Sox fan occurred in 2004, when the cast of Idiots took four straight from The Yankees and celebrated in their kitchen as The Spank-boys' dejected fans quietly tried to tuck away their "1918" signs. Any true Red Sox fan will tell that was highlight, not The World Series. And it will never get better than that night when fell to my knees in front of my television, crying, and threw both middle fingers at the screen, yelling, "Fuck you, Yankees! Suck on this!"
Nor will it come close.
So the 2011 Dorian Gray Sox will be fielding seven All-Stars along with an All-Star closer and four All-Stars in the starting rotation. On paper, they're going to be tough to beat. And I have the privilege of watching a team that will be competitive every season in the foreseeable future. Have I indulged in the new Sox fan game of guessing the batting order--Will it be Ellsbury, Crawford, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Youk or Ellsbury, Pedroia, Crawford, Gonzalez, Youk? It's a fun game and totally indulgent.
I'll get used to the new All-Star team and, I'm sure, raise a toast or two to them. Just be sure to keep that portrait covered, Crypt-keeper, far away from Fenway Park.