Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Dart’s Open Letter To Red Sox Nation 2 AKA The Birth Of A New Nation

I decided to write this blog a while back, but I figured that it would be more relevant with time. Now that the Red Sox have swept their ALDS series versus the Angels and the Yankees have lost their series with the Cleveland Indians it makes more sense that I post it now. Red Sox Nation is in transition, there was a time when we were the saddest of the sad and being a Red Sox fan was an exercise in misery year after year. No matter how well things were going, we’d be waiting for the other shoe to drop. The better things were for the Sox, that just meant that it would be all the more heart wrenching when things went South later on. We lived in a constant state of agony...that is until we reached an age that made us hardened like concrete and we could withstand any disappointment the Red Sox could potentially bring our way in the Fall.

Next Spring, we were back at it again with smiles on our faces saying “This is the year!”. Just like the Cubs, the Red Sox were lovable losers are we were among the most die hard, loyal and dedicated fan bases on the planet. I mean, it was easy to be a Yankee fan because they were always there in October. The Sox broke your heart in a new way every goddamn year...they almost had it down to a science and yet hope still sprung eternal the next season. As a small child I thought that maybe they did something God didn’t like a long time ago and they would never win a championship again (since God did that type of thing all the time in the Bible I figured that it couldn’t be that much of a stretch).

I was born in 1975 so I didn’t experience the pain of that year first hand, but I knew that no one I knew that saw it wanted to talk about it. I remember the fiasco that was 1978, and the 1986, 1988, 1990, 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2003 playoffs were as agonizing as it gets for a child or young adult who wears the Red Sox colors with the famous font going across the chest. In order to deal with the Red Sox inability to get the job done I began to look for an explanation why. I never believed in the Curse Of The Bambino and I instead found a book that seemed to encompass some of my own personal theories as to why the Red Sox couldn’t get over the hump for all of those years in the past. It’s called Shut Out by Howard Bryant (pictured below)and I bought it right after the 2003 ALCS ended. Who thought that a World Series championship in 2004 would turn everything completely around?

Whereas once Red Sox fans were generally viewed as a miserable lot, after the release of the Farrely brothers’ film “Fever Pitch” (pictured below), all of a sudden being a Red Sox fan seemed kinda fun and add to that the fact that the Sox finally won one and that movie is on cable year round. The Red Sox have a lot of cool looking merchandise, a lot of books and assorted reading materials about them are widely available so you can catch up on their heartbreaking history (but not experience it for yourself) and the have a bunch of celebrity fans so you’d be in good company if you didn’t already choose a favorite baseball team. Where once they were seen as also rans, they were now seen as serious contenders for the World Series championship year in and year out.

For those of us that grew up as lifelong Red Sox fans, this was quite an odd occurrence. Since when was being a Red Sox fan hip? Every baseball park the Red Sox traveled to was not without a sizable group of Red Sox fans there to cheer them on, often much to the dismay of the home crowd. The tide was turning and now the Red Sox were playing moneyball right alongside the Yankees. They drew away big name free agents, made blockbuster deals and their team salary climbed steadily with every year.

When people talked Major League Baseball, the lead story was usually Red Sox vs. Yankees. Oddly enough, when it comes to the Yankees and the Red Sox in many aspects of the game they usually come in ranked #1 and #2. Coincedentally, they are both sponsored by Adidas and Majestic who handle the majority of their licensed apparel. No more are the Red Sox an also ran, they are big business.

Red Sox Nation is growing yearly (it’s population in Asia is steadily increasing). It is a fiercely loyal and rabid fan base that has voted in Red Sox to the past two All Star Games and catapulted the Red Sox into biggest the biggest road draw in Major League Baseball. USA Today even did an article that called the Boston Red Sox “America’s home team”. The 2007 Boston Red Sox won the AL East divisional crown in a wire to wire campaign after taking over first place on April 18th and finishing the season 96-66 with the best record in MLB and securing themselves home field advantage throughout the entire postseason (since the AL won the All Star Game).

Old school Red Sox fans are pinching themselves and bracing for a heartbreak while new fans are just enjoying theride. Will we end up like the New England Patriots, who after being called “the Patsies” for the first 35 years of their existence became a dominant AFC team and eventually regarded as the “Yankees of the NFL”? Only time will tell.

After watching the Yankees go down 2-0 to the Cleveland Indians in one of the all time weirdest games I’ve ever seen it almost seems that maybe the Yankees are in a type of funk of their own. J.D. Drew was in a funk for much of the season but has been hot since September. Alex Rodriguez was hot all year but had done almost nothing in the postseason and when he did it was too litle too late. Have fortunes reversed for the Evil Empire? They haven’t won a World Series since 2000 and they can’t exactly chant “1918!” to members of Red Sox Nation anymore. If the Red Sox manage to come away with the World Series title would that make them the new empire?

I know what some Red Sox fans are thinking reading this right now “Don’t jinx it!” To them I say that I don’t believe in curses or jinxes anymore...but I can’t tell you what the hell’s going on with the Cubs. This is one of the things that come with success, latecomers to the party and new bandwagon fans. Whenever something gets popular it happens so it’s to be expected. As a lifelong fan it’s annoying but what can you do? If anything us old school fans can stand to learn a lesson from these new fans and stop waiting for the sky to fall or for something bad to happen. Let’s just watch the ALCS and enjoy it...without any Red Sox fan doom and gloom or negativity.

It’s a new day Red Sox Nation, now let’s act like it.

P.S. If George Steinbrenner fires Joe Torre that would be the dummy move of the new millennium, if Joe Torre doesn't get AL Manager Of Year it's a fuckin' travesty. He did one of the best managerial jobs that I've ever seen in my 32 years on Earth in this 2007 season. Don't do it George...you'll just spark a mass exodus of Yankee free agents.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a lifelong Sox fan and a let's drive to the mall to see if the single of Player's Ball is out yet, Outkast fan. To see what has happened to both of these teams is bizarre. I'd be lying if I told you a little part of me doesn't long for the days of being the scrappy underdog.