Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Playoff Gear Hex

After watching the pulse-pounding Sunday Eastern Conference final with 20 odd fellow Revs fans at Ed's place in Brighton, I drove back home- with an unscheduled stop in the heart of Boston - and found my e-mail account fattened by congratulatory e-mails. One of my friends, Jonothon Starsmore, congratulated me on the win to the extent that it had appeared as if I had an actual hand in the result.

The final e-mail, however, was from MLSgear.com. In a blatant attempt to distract me from contributing to my 401(k) this week, the lovely commerce site implored me to purchase this to go along with this. For those of you hyperlinktually challenged, the picture above is a visual reference to what I speak of.

Now, I'm sure the marketing folks over at mlsgear.com are well-intentioned with respect to this promotion of Eastern Conference Championship gear. In fact, I think that both the cap and tee are spiffy, well-designed products suitable for a Revs supporter like myself at an affordable price. But let me tell you of the underlying evil behind this proposal.

The consumer, by way of purchasing such products BEFORE the MLS Cup final, is essentially saying, "I'm content with an EC Championship". Now, mind you, I have nothing personal against people who buy these products. In fact, I'm an advocate of purchasing these products AFTER the MLS Cup, where such products are usually found at discount rates due to either to 1. the team winning the MLS Cup itself, therefore rendering the previous playoff apparel somewhat obsolete, or 2. the pre-MLS Cup celebratory gear is a mere reminder to the losing squad that hey, your team was second-best and couldn't win the big one. 50% discounts on these products within 2 weeks of the MLS Cup Final. You can take it to the bank.

Now, if you are an all-around sports afficianado - nut, to the layperson - like myself, you know that buying such pre-penultimate celebration gear is also bound by a certain sports hex that has haunts the consumer's team. On two seperate occasions already in my young adult life, I have been cursed by the purchase of such apparel.

Case study 1 - the 1996 New England Patriots. My dear mother, knowing her eldest son's devotion to the Patriots since he first proclaimed that Marc Wilson was the greatest quarterback in Pats history, unknowingly purchased cursed cloth in the form of a medium royal blue hoodie with "New England Patriots: 1996 AFC Champions" emblazoned on the front chest. With a good 10 days prior to Super Bowl XXXI, I proudly wore this piece of showmanship - my team is better than yours, if your team resides in the American Football Conference - to school the Friday before the Super Bowl. The result of said pro football's biggest game/commercial enterprise? A 35-21 trouncing of my beloved Pats at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. The soiled and sweaty AFC Champs shirt hanging in my hamper that day, mocked me in my disgust. "Ha! By wearing me, you settle for what has already occured, and prepared yourself for utter failure with your tolerance for being 2nd best!" I haven't seen, nor heard from that hoodie since.

Case study 2 - Seven years removed from my first experience of pre-final game apparel nightmare, I purchased a 2003 Red Sox Wild Card t-shirt. Sure, it was good to be back in the playoffs, with our team poised for making a serious run at the World Series. And up until the 8th inning of Game 7 of the ALCS that year, it seemed my lovely shirt was destined to erase the memory of the AFC Champs hoodie nightmare. But then, this curse, accompanied by a more famous curse, wreaked its havoc on my sportsworld, and thus, history repeated itself. Sox lose, and somewhere on my bedroom floor, the wild card tee echoed its unheralded power. "Didn't my precursor tell you of the implications of our kind? Content for what you have already gained, with much more still at stake!" From that point on, I swore to myself that the only playoff celebration gear purchased shall denote the ACTUAL celebration of the respective sport's TITLE game. Super Bowl Champions, World Series Champions, and (hopefully) MLS Cup Championship gear are all acceptable purchases. AL Champs, AFC Champs, and Eastern Conference Champs are all UNACCEPTABLE forms of pre-title apparel, unless bought afterward at discounted rates.

Case study 3 - Learning from previous experience, I refuse to buy Red Sox 2004 ALCS Champs gear, Pats 2003 & 2004 AFC Champs gear. The result? Within weeks of the sale of such pre-championship apparel, I was able to buy CHAMPIONSHIP GEAR. After learning the error of my previous purchasing habits, my teams are 3-0 in title games. Previously? 0-2. Clear distinction, my friend.

Mularkey, you tell me. We shall see. However, I shall not tempt fate by purchasing such apparel - with the sure guarantee that the Revs shall fall - only to say "I told you so." Rather, let it be known: no such apparel will be bought by your humble 2nd-rate journalist this week. And should the Revs achieve glory with the final whistle in Frisco, I will tell you, with a widening smile, that "I told you so."

And after I crack such a smile, I shall take it upon myself to purchase, with much pride, MLS Cup Final CHAMPIONSHIP gear.

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