May 27, 2019

B(oston) Is For Bandwagon

August 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

While attending a Red Sox/Mariners game recently I saw a shirt that said, B is for Bandwagon. After laughing, I couldn’t disagree with that statement as probably 50 percent of the fans at a game 3000 miles away from Fenway Park were there for the Red Sox.

And I was one of those fans.

But not the bandwagon type. I am old enough to remember watching Carl Yastrzemski hit one out at Fenway and hearing the TV announcer rhetorically ask if Yaz was really ready to hang up his cleats. But, I am not old enough to remember Carlton Fisk’s most famous homerun.

That being said I was there for the Crash of 86. I was sad when Boggs left and devastated when Clemens left for Toronto. And all through the years, I got tired of watching the Sox climb to the top at the beginning of the season and holding out a carrot stick until the inevitable drop in the rankings after the All-Star break.

One of my biggest moments following this team came as a reporter when I tracked down Nomar’s parents who were living in one of the cities I covered in Southern California. I interviewed them about their famous son and then spilled my guts about what a big Red Sox fan and Nomar fan I was.

I went to Fenway on my Honeymoon.

And of course, I threw my jersey off in disgust and was heartbroken when Wake gave up the home run in 2003. He had that series MVP locked up and I knew he’d toss a jack as a soon as Grady Little brought this selfless warrior to the mound.

But, in the last five years Boston has gone from America’s sweetheart to a team I find myself sometime rooting against. I just don’t care if they win. In fact, I don’t even hate the Yankees as much. Ok, maybe I haven’t lost it completely but I have certainly come to appreciate Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte.

So where did all these sudden fanatics for Boston come from post-2004?

I’ve been around teenagers who obsess over this team trying to prove they are part of  the club. The club of fans who went through year after year after year and after year of disappointment. Today’s teens and even young 20s have always known a winning ball club out of Massachusetts. Their history ends with Pedro, Manny, Big Papi, Keith Foulke (remember him?), Varitek and the rest of the cast of Idiots from 2004.

If you’re 17, you can’t get down and depressed when the team loses and then act as if this is typical Red Sox fare. And, really you can’t act like you’re the GM and decide who should go and who shouldn’t because you have such a rich history of Red Sox lore.

They haven’t a clue who Lynn, Barrett and Burks are. Clemens is a doper from some National League team. And, sure they know Buckner, but who doesn’t?

What’s worse is going out in public and seeing Red Sox Nation in full riot gear. (Hate to say this but as much as I hate the Oakland Raiders, they have the copyright on this whole sports nation thing and it should stay there).

Living on the West Coast, there used to be a time when seeing someone wearing a Red Sox hat elicited a silent nod; a polite, indiscreet way to acknowledge a fraternity brother.

But now, Red Sox hats, shirts and jersey’s are everywhere. For the most part I stopped wearing my apparel a few years back because I was tired of total strangers telling me “Go Sox.” Oh, as if that’s new. And they can’t say “Go Sox.” It’s “Go Sahx” with the silly grin.

And now, since the two titles, the haters have increased. Once last year when I was leaving a minor league game, minor league, someone needed to let me know he felt the Red Sox sux. Thanks for that. Probably a bandwagon hater. They’re annoying too!

Now, I fully admit, that had the Red Sox won in 1986, perhaps similar hysteria would have ensued and I, as a young lad, would have been regarded by my father’s generation as simply jumping on board the movement. With today’s Internet, sports marketing and easy access to team clothing I argue it would have been significantly different but the case could have been made. (You ever see video from the 80s? How many jerseys’s do you see in the crowd?)

So, in hindsight, a part of me is glad for what happened in 1986 and a part of me is sad for what happened in the last decade. Today, the Red Sox are one of the most popular teams in sports and with the frenzy of sports media, people want to be a part of it.

Red Sox fans have become obnoxious and dare I say arrogant. The bandwagon fans make it worse as they have an intense desire to feel part of the club that let so many down for so many years.

But the reality is, while I consider myself part of that club I am not a founding member and never will be. The heartache of my father’s generation was always greater than my generation. And the current generation knows no heartache.

And, after 2004, the club stopped, or at least should have stopped, taking in new members. At least for now.

Perhaps there is hope as big news in the homeland is the decline of TV ratings in Boston (NESN ratings down 36 percent), which hopefully is perhaps proof that some of the fans who jumped on board in 2004 have and are falling off.  But if I go to the mall today that hope will fade.

The Red Sox used to be the lovable losers. The under dog. Now, this team is more like that hated team south of them. I’ve heard from friends who, while never changing allegiance from their teams, admitted to having a soft spot for the Red Sox. Now, they have two favorite teams - their own and anyone playing against Boston.

Go Sahx.

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