Purim is a holiday of inversion, of topsy-turvyness, passion, intrigue, and, ultimately, survival.
There are heroes, villains, drama, and drinking….
Kind of like the Boston Red Sox clubhouse last September.
Oh yes. Lest you forget, O hardy Red Sox fans, we are less than six months removed from the month of infamy, the Olde Towne Team’s 7-20 September record, and Carl Crawford’s pathetic attempt at a season-saving catch at Camden Yards.
If you think about it there are actually quite a few similarities between the Purim story and recent Red Sox history. Here we go:
Queen Vashti- the queen who exerted her independence and lost favor with the king. Is this not Terry Francona, whose personality and hands-off approach ultimately alienated both his players and superiors? She went from beloved queen to being out on the street pretty quickly. So did Tito.
Queen Esther- obviously this is Bobby Valentine. He has been charming the pants off of everyone in Spring Training with his charisma and wit. Esther dazzled Achashverosh… and Bobby V is doing the same to sports media types and fans all over Red Sox Nation.
Mordechai- the wise and trusted uncle-advisor to Esther. Who better to play Mordechai than the new General Manager, Ben Cherington? One would like to believe his savvy off-season moves have set the Red Sox up for success. Whether or not that will indeed prove to be true remains to be seen.
Achashverosh- the somewhat bumbling, rambling, caricature of a King. Who better to play this role than Red Sox owner John Henry? Some of the things he does are laughable- calling out Carl Crawford on his impromptu visit to the Felger and Mazz show last fall, falling on his yacht and missing the Terry Francona goodbye press conference, opening his mouth when he shouldn’t? John Henry is always good for a laugh, and so is Achashverosh.
Haman- this is not easy. Who is the arch-enemy in the Red Sox story? Is it the unapologetic Texas tough guy, Josh Beckett? Is it Tito, letting the boys run wild in the clubhouse? Is it the atmosphere of selfishness? Yes, sort of. But let’s go ahead and get all populist and call for the head of Larry Lucchino, the snarky, abrasive, smug, much-vilified President and CEO of the Red Sox who has alienated almost everybody over the course of career in Major League Baseball. Everyone hates Larry Lucchino… and everybody hates Haman.
Bigtan and Teresh- these two guys were sneakily plotting the killing of Achashverosh when Mordechai ratted them out. Now, in the case of the Red Sox, there was lots of plotting and undermining going on, particularly amongst the pitching staff. Can we go ahead and say the whole starting rotation basically plotted (subconsciously) the destruction of Tito? Or say that the somewhat forced retirement of Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield could be compared to the execution of Bigtan and Teresh? Maybe.
The royal scribes- easy. Sports media! Columnists, bloggers, radio hosts, TV hosts… you can’t change the radio dial or the TV channel without another commentator updating us on the latest from Fort Myers. Peter Abraham! Sean McAdam! Jessica Moran! Dan Shaughnessy! Fort Myers is exciting, but I promise that it’s not that exciting that you can eke out 40 days of coverage from it. It almost makes you pity the sports scribes.
Purim ends well for the Jews. Hopefully this story will end well for the Red Sox. It certainly can’t get any worse than it did last year.
Unless you count Game 7 in 2003, Game 6 in 1986, and a few thousand other calamities in Red Sox history…