Monday, October 21, 2013

How I Came To Despise the Boston Red Sox

It wasn't always this way...

The first professional sports team I ever cheered for was the Boston Red Sox.  I loved baseball, and even though I began playing Little League ball for the Guilford College Yankees in 1967, the Red Sox became my team (I was too young to realize I couldn't like the Yankees and the Sox at the same time) and Carl Yastrzemski my favorite player. I wore #8 as a young player and was angry that I was not left-handed.  I watched anytime they were featured on the NBC Game of the Week (the ONLY TV game back in those dark days) - and in 1967 they were featured a lot. The Sox won the American League pennant and Yaz won the triple crown. But they lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, and I was devastated. I didn't yet know how long it had been since they won the Series (1918), or about the Curse of the Bambino. I just knew my Sox had lost. There were many years of learning still to come.

The years passed, but my love of the Sox never wavered. I lived in NC at the time, and could get Atlanta Braves games on the radio (and we lived close to enough to go to a game each summer), so I became a Braves fans as well. But Boston held a special place in my heart. In 1975 they had another magical year. Fisk, Evans, Lynn, Rice and Yaz got them back into the Series, where there were 7 epic games with the the Big Red Machine of Cincinnati.  I watched every game, nearly dying of joy when Carlton's home run stayed fair in Game 6, and nearly dying when they dropped Game 7. The drought continued. I then watched in horror in 1978 as the Sox blew at 14 game lead to the Yankees, then lost the one game playoff in part due to a home run by Bucky (F'n) Dent. It was painful to be a Red Sox fan.

I secured my official Red Sox fan card in 1986.  I had moved to Worcester, Mass. to take a youth ministry job with New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, and in the summer of that year year I was able to attend to 6 games at one of the true cathedrals of baseball, Fenway Park.  Attending was much easier in those days, as while the Sox had long been sacred to New Englanders, they were not yet the tourist attraction they are today.  In fact (as pointed out by my friend Hal Gastler recently when some Red Sox fans were slamming Rays fans for their poor attendancewhen Roger Clemens struck out 20 Mariners in a game that year, the attendance was 13,404- not exactly standing room only. I saw great games and legendary players that season, including seeing Reggie Jackson hit a home run off of Tom Seaver (Trivia Time: Which of those 2 was a Red Sox player at the time?) After their miraculous comeback against the Angels in the ALCS (thank you Dave Henderson!) they had the Mets beaten in the Series...and then things fell apart.  And the "Curse" continued. But I had now been to Fenway. I was now totally invested. I had lived in New England, felt the pain, and become a true part of Red Sox Nation.

There were more playoff disappointments in 1988 and 1990. Then in 2003, they seemed on their way to beating the hated Yankees when Aaron Boone hit an 11th inning home run to send the Sox home losers once again.  By now the entire country knew of the "Curse" and the epic wait of Boston fans for a World Championship. And it was becoming popular to cheer for the Sox. So when 2004 arrived, and the Boston Red Sox FINALLY claimed a world title, there was great rejoicing in Red Sox nation...and the bandwagon that was attached to it. Bill Simmons great book Now I  Can Die In Peace captured the heart and spirit of long-suffering Sox fans. The movie Fever Pitch led still more newbies to the bandwagon. Suddenly there were more Red Sox fans than ants at a picnic. And in the midst of being so happy to have finally won, I began to realize a horrible truth- many of these new Boston fans were just like the Yankees fans we had always despised so much. Pompous. Entitled. Insufferable. By the time the Sox claimed a 2nd title in 2007, I was losing interest. In 2008 the Tampa Bay Rays were actually better than Boston...and some of the Boston fans in the Tampa area could not have been more obnoxious. They sounded like Yankees fans- but with 25 fewer world titles to back up the trash talk!  The Sox spent the next several years trying to buy another championship- just as we had accused the Yankees of doing all those years. Slowly but surely, the Red Sox became the team I hated to see win.  I loathed talking baseball with "new" Boston fans. Many would talk about the streak of sellout crowds at Fenway- which began AFTER they won in 2004. They would talk about suffering and being part of the Red Sox nation, but couldn't name a player from before 2000, except for maybe Bill Buckner- who they hated, although some were not sure why. It finally became just too much for me, and I dropped my life-long allegiance to the Red Sox and became a Tampa Bay Rays fan. 

So Wednesday, when the 2013 World Series begins, I will be cheering for the St. Louis Cardinals. My closet still contains a Red Sox jersey and a Boston hat, and Yaz is still my all-time favorite player. They are a part of my baseball past that will never be forgotten. But the past is just that- the past.  And today, I cannot cheer for the Boston Red Sox. I have had a Twitter hashtag for them throughout the playoffs- #ABBA. It means "ANYONE but Boston again." So lets go Cardinals- and no, that does NOT make me a part of the Cardinal Nation!  I really can't stand front runners...

But one bright spot for you Sox fans- I do still like them better than the Patriots!  :)


  1. Being a die hard 4th generation Cardinals fan, I can't not comment. So here goes my lengthy comment that is really a brief summary of my very strong opinions about good baseball.

    The Cardinals have a good minor league system and a solid strategy about who they are as a team and how to get there. I think it is the way baseball should be played and teams should be run. I'm glad they have gotten some positive press for the way they run things. It gives me hope that maybe the media can start focusing on the positives of baseball.

    However, I fear that it could lead to a bunch of bandwagon fans. They can really ruin a teams identity. In the last few years, I have met a fan or two that I don't really care for. There are specific 'requirements' to be a real Cardinals fan. A lust for winning every year, valuing high priced players who are obsessed with their own identity, and disrespecting the other team or fans is NOT a part of being a real Cardinals fan. Unfortunately there are many fans in baseball today that think those things are what baseball is about. There are even some players who seem to value those things.

    In the end, I would rather have no one pick the Cardinals to win it all and have the media laud the other team. There is less chance of picking up fake fans that way.

    1. Great thoughts, Andrea. The Cardinals are a great organization. My grandfather was a lifelong fan as well. I respect you and Drew for sticking with your teams and being true to the sport. Now GO CARDINALS!!!


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