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So, here's the thing
Bill Bilodeau

Red Sox Sued for Causing Depression


BOSTON (AP) – A New Hampshire man today filed suit in federal court seeking $43,120,000 from the Boston Red Sox for irreparable emotional harm the team has inflicted upon him over the past 32 years.

Bill Bilodeau, 39, of Keene, claims the team "… knowingly and willingly used its monopolistic place in the New England baseball market to create false hopes among fans, including the plaintiff, and for annually disappointing said fans to the degree of causing their emotional make-up to become depressed and negative."

"They’ve made me what I am today," said Bilodeau in a phone interview, "a bitter, pessimistic man who can’t fully enjoy anything in life without waiting for the bottom to fall out."

Bilodeau said year after year of Red Sox failures, coming on the heels of high hopes and early-season success, have caused him to always expect the worst.

"On Christmas morning, I used to open my toys with one eye on the door, expecting someone to come in and grab them away at the last minute, like Bucky Dent," Bilodeau said, referring to the weak-hitting Yankee shortstop’s surprise, three-run homer that knocked the Sox out of the 1978 playoffs.

"When my daughter was born, it was the most beautiful, magical thing of my life, but I couldn’t shake the thought that somehow she’d slip through the doctor’s hands and get away from us, like that grounder that went through Buckner’s legs in the ’86 Series. It completely ruined the moment."

Bilodeau’s Boston attorney, Heywood Jablome, explained the extent of the damage done to his client and the rationale for the damages sought.

"Mr. Bilodeau is a regular guy, like you or me, who happened to have the misfortune of growing up in ‘Red Sox Country’ for lack of a better term, virtually a prisoner of this team and its malicious marketing and mismanagement. Think about it: Every disappointing season ends with a ‘Wait till next year!’, then the off-season is spent making moves to acquire better hitters, some more mediocre pitching, whatever, which the team then touts in its advertising and in media interviews as making the difference so that year’s team will be the one that wins it all. But does it ever happen? Of course not!"

He said the damages include: $120,000 for time spent over the years watching, listening or talking about the baseball team; $3 million in earnings not made because the "prevailing attitude of a loser" the team has left his client with has caused him to miss out on better jobs; and $40 million for emotional distress.

Jablome claims the effects of Cincinnatti Reds player Ed Armbruster’s blatant batter’s interference during the fourth game of the 1975 World Series, Dent’s 1978 homer, Buckner’s faux pas in 1986 and countless other blunders and injustices have robbed Bilodeau and other long-suffering fans of their optimism and left them unable to cope adequately with life in American society.

"Let’s face it," Jablome said, "America loves winners, but can’t stand losers. These fans are losers, by extension, and they know it. How do you think it feels to be them, talking with people at work or the gym who are Yankee fans, you know, those arrogant, condescending a-------s who know no matter what, when all is said and done, the Yankees will have bought another championship and the Sox will still be waiting for ‘next year’?"

For his part, Bilodeau, an editor at a small daily newspaper in New Hampshire, said he’s known a few Yankees fans who are arrogant and loud, just as you’d expect, but also others who are "pretty nice, considering." But, he said, all have a confident, positive attitude that comes from following a winner.

"It’s humiliating. It’s humbling. It’s depressing," Jablome continued. "Mr. Bilodeau has been, as a result of years of this scenario, unable to fully utilize his talents and reach his potential in the work force. I mean, he’s a journalist, for Christ’s sake. Have some pity."

Bilodeau said his vocational goal had once been to be an Olympic ice dancer, but the fear instilled in him through years of Red Sox watching kept him from pursuing his dream.

"It’s true," he said. "I’d be practicing double lutzes, and suddenly I’d picture myself falling in the Olympic long program, or I’d see myself hugging my coach after a flawless program, but the Russian judge was (major league baseball umpire) Larry Barnett, and he only gave me a 4.2! I couldn’t go on, so I turned to journalism, like all the other cynics."

Red Sox management declined to comment on the suit, but a staffer who answered the telephone this afternoon laughed hysterically when told what the call was about. Told this, Jablome attributed the reaction to the team’s "callous disregard for its fans in general, and Mr. Bilodeau in particular."

Bilodeau, who Jablome says has undergone years of unsuccessful therapy for his depression, first broached the subject of a lawsuit this past summer after reading about a Bronx, N.Y., man suing several fast-food chains for contributing to his obesity problem.

"At first, I thought, ‘What a freakin’ loser. What a moron. You suck down McDonald’s quarter-pounders for 30 years, and then wake up and say it’s their fault you’re fat.’ Then I realized he’s a genius," Bilodeau admitted. "It’s so analogous. You’d think he was freely choosing to eat at those restaurants, but everyone knows you can’t avoid them. And in New England, you can’t avoid being a Red Sox fan. And he was fed, so to speak, this marketing that fast food was okay, even good for you. No one fat was ever in their advertising, except Grimace. Likewise, the Red Sox always gave the appearance of being good. The announcers were optimistic. The TV ads always said:

‘This could be the year!’

"But it never was, and the cumulative effect, like for the fat guy in New York, was poor health, in my case, mental. It was suddenly all so clear."
Bilodeau said the Red Sox are unique in this fashion because unlike, say, the Cubs or

Rangers, who are always bad, or the Mets or Tigers, who have won at least once in the past 30 years, the Sox are always on the verge, but never quite get there.

"It’s the story of my life," Bilodeau said. "It’s always waiting for the other shoe to drop. And it’s all their fault. I couldn’t even enjoy last year’s Super Bowl until after it was over. It took three weeks before my few friends could convince me the Patriots actually won. I was still waiting for the kick to hit the upright or the ref to throw a flag."

Jablome said if not for that game, actually, the Patriots might be named as co-defendants, for their similar history of futility. As it is, he’s considering naming Boston media outlets that have carried or written about the Rec Sox’s games over the years.

"Who knows," he said optimistically, "it could even turn out to be a class-action suit. There’s a lot of depression in New England, and it ain’t all from the weather."


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