BOSTON.Â Public mental health officials say this town, which has an obsessive relationship with its major league baseball franchise, could be headed forÂ a tragedy with a scope not seen since the mass suicide by cultÂ followers of messianic evangelist Jim Jones if the Red Sox don't win on Opening Day today.
"Dude, this is depressing."
"Historically, Red Sox fans are only happy when they're miserable," said Dr. Jonas Feinstein a psychiatrist on the staff ofÂ a Longwood Avenue clinic that treats Sox fans with depression after extra-innings losses.Â "Still, there are limits to man's capacity for suffering."
Pediatricians say early exposure to Sox Suffering is important.
The Sox have now lost six games to open the season, the team's second-worst start ever.Â The pain felt by fans is magnified by the fact that this year's team, which featuresÂ off-season acquisitionsÂ Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, was ranked the strongest in the history of the franchise by a majority of local jock-sniffing sportswriters.
Jones:Â "Everybody stay calm.Â We're making more Kool-Aid right now."
In 1978 Jones persuaded more than 900 members of his "People's Temple" cult to drink grape-flavored Kool-Aid laced with potassium cyanide, the largest mass suicide in American history.Â Â In 1978 the Red Sox blew a fourteen-game lead, then lost a one-game playoff to the New York YankeesÂ when light-hitting shortstop Bucky Dent hit a three-run homer off former Yankee Mike Torrez, setting off the largest episode of mass whining in American history.
"The two events, while linked forever in the minds of people who are both sports fans and cult suicide aficionados, pale by comparison to a tragedy whose painful legacy can still be felt thirty-three years later," said Con Chapman, the author of The Year of the Gerbil, a history of the '78 Red Sox-Yankees pennant race.Â "That would be the 800 unsold copies of the book I have sitting in my garage."