There was a time, younger readers, when the fan base of the Boston Red Sox was routinely paired hand-in-hand with the fan base of the Minnesota Vikings when it came to lists of the longest-suffering and most-tortured groups.

Then, of course, the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series. They won it again in 2007. The Patriots had their run of three Super Bowls and remained perennial contenders. The Celtics won it all in the NBA. The Bruins won a Stanley Cup. Everything was coming up Boston.

There was no torture. There was no angst. And any lingering bad taste -- a 16-0 Patriots season wiped away in the Super Bowl, for example -- was quickly washed away by the savory goodness of other fresh championship memories.

Then, last week, ESPN Magazine put out its "Boston" issue. It is not easy to bundle hubris in such a neat package, but this was it. Even if the articles could survive on their own merit and it wasn't the love-fest you might imagine, the cover was enough. Even Bill Simmons, who might be even more over the top than we are when it comes to sports superstitions and a belief in jinxes, contributed a piece that was teased off the cover with this sentence: "This whole issue is a bad idea."

Since then, the Patriots blew a 21-point lead and lost to Buffalo, thanks in large part to four interceptions by their previously invincible quarterback.

The Red Sox, though, had the big knife hidden behind their backs. As a once seemingly secure Wild Card lead evaporated to nothing, Sox fans cringed with thoughts of years past. But they were powerless over what took place Wednesday night. No, it wasn't a championship or even a playoff game. Watching your team blow a lead with two outs in the 9th inning, though, while the team you are tied with rallies from 7 runs down to steal your playoff spot ... well, that certainly qualifies as a massive kick in the [redacted].

We tried to engage RandBall correspondent and Red Sox fan Lizzy in a good-natured round of "We Said, She Said" to debate which fan base had it worse this year: Twins or Red Sox. Her reply, via Twitter: "It's not even up for discussion. Blowing a 9 game lead with a little over 3 weeks to play. Unfathomable." Yeah, she's probably right. Even six bad months can't top that concentrated sequence of events.

If you are scoring at home, it was eerily reminiscent of the 2003 Vikings, who started the season 6-0 before closing 3-7. Four of those losses were to teams that finished 4-12, including that last-second heartbreaker to the Cardinals to officially shove Minnesota out of the playoffs. Vikings fans then were rationalizing just as Red Sox fans are now. What would they have done in the playoffs, anyway? Well, we'll never know. Because both teams massively choked.

There is some nice continuity, too, in that 2003 was the last time Vikings fans and Red Sox fans felt any kind of kinship. That is, of course, until last night. Welcome back, Boston fans. You might not remember the view from down here, but it will come back to you. We missed you. Nice to see you again.