BOSTON -- You are a Boston sports fan. You are numb, bloodied and beaten. Your head hurts. There have been simply too many ugly scenes and primal screams. When will it end? When will something happen that will make you proud of your city and your teams?
The phone rings. It is your brother in Arizona. He wants to talk about the Red Sox and how they blew it again. He can't believe umpire Terry Cooney pulled the trigger so fast, and he can't believe Roger Clemens could be so dumb in such a crucial situation. Why do these things always happen to the Red Sox?
You don't know what to tell him. You agree that the Oakland A's were certainly the better team, but it's hard to digest such graceless defeat. The Red Sox against the A's managed to make the Toronto Blue Jays look like a lion-hearted bunch.
The Red Sox have lost 10 straight postseason games, and it's hard to get enthused about Boston's chances of making another run at the American League East title next year. You're not sure if you want to see the Red Sox play the A's again, and you're not sure if the American League would allow it.
You wonder if Mike Boddicker, Tom Brunansky and Larry Andersen have seen enough.
You saw the Red Sox score four runs in four games, and you wonder what the Red Sox would do with Willie McGee.
You wonder about Clemens. You can't believe that Clemens, not Joe Morgan, decided the circumstances that would allow Clemens to pitch Game 4. Who is the manager? Why is Roger Clemens behaving like such a boor? What's the matter with the Red Sox?
The phone rings. It's your high school pal who now lives in Chicago. He asks you when New England is going to get a real professional football team. He says he just read the item about Irving Fryar and Hart Lee Dykes getting into a fight at 1:20 a.m. outside a bar in Providence, R.I. He says he thought Irving had found God. He says he'll send lawyers, guns and money, if necessary.
You can only shake your head and agree. The Patriots aren't playing this weekend, and you're kind of glad. Lisa Olson says she has left the country because of death threats, Zeke Mowatt is under investigation by a Watergate lawyer and team owner Victor Kiam is backpedaling across America in hopes he can save the Christmas market for Lady Remingtons. The Patriots are 1-4 and look like the worst team in pro football.
The phone rings. This time it's a guy you used to work with. He's living in Los Angeles now, and he wants to know what's going on with the Celtics. It seems to be one bad thing after another. They had to sue Brian Shaw to make him play for them, then their top pick got pulled out of a car and questioned at gunpoint in Wellesley. Heroic Dennis Johnson was unceremoniously dumped. Now he's reading that Johnny Most is retiring and that Larry Bird ate too many Bavarian creams over the summer.
You nod and agree. All you can tell your friend is that it looks like it's going to get worse before it gets better.
You are a Boston sports fan, and this is not a good time to travel. If you must travel, deny you are from Boston or be prepared for questions and ridicule.
These are the questions out-of-town sports fans ask when they learn you are from Boston:
How could the owner of your football team call that lady reporter a "classic bitch"?
How could the Red Sox be reduced to throwing Gatorade buckets and wrestling in their own dugout in the final and most important game of the year?
Why would Fryar leave himself open to felony charges by carrying his gun across state boundaries?
What kind of reception will Shaw get at the Garden opening night?
Why does Fryar need a gun in the first place?
Will the Red Sox ever win another postseason game?
Will Kiam suspend General Manager Pat Sullivan?
Will Morgan be ripped by his players again next season?
Will the Celtics do the right thing and retire DJ's No. 3?
Will Clemens be able to shake the growing speculation he can't win the big games? In eight postseason starts, he has won once, and excuses have included fatigue, head cold, blisters and an emotional umpire.
Will Marty Barrett ever stop complaining?
People are talking about us. People are mocking us.
What is left to say?