Saturday, October 11, 2008

How Ben Affleck Ruined the Boston Red Sox for Everyone

Man, I love postseason baseball. The crowds do their best European soccer fan impression. The benches are up for most of the game and almost every player looks interested in almost every pitch. I mean, even J.D. Drew looks like he really wants to win.

It is simply the best time of year and it usually lasts until Tim McCarver surfaces to make a mess of everything. But this year, the Pink Hats are beating Terrible Timmie to the punch.

Did I say Pink Hats? I meant Red Sox Nation. Pretty much synonymous.

Something has always driven me nuts about watching a Red Sox' road game and hearing it sound like Fenway. Or going to Pac Bell and seeing so much Dodger blue (the ugliest pretty color, or maybe the prettiest ugly color - I'm kind of colorblind). But I knew it couldn't be just that they traveled so well because that's something I would love if Giants' fans did.

And I haven't been a jealous person since my first serious girlfriend dumped me in high school. Surprisingly, you use up the ol' jealousy reservoir tout de suite when the girl you love is dating someone else.

Anyway, I had a moment of clarity watching the crowd's reaction to Dustin Pedroia's second homer off Scott Kazmir. If it had been a cartoon, a light bulb would have clicked into existence over my disproportionately large noggin'.

In that moment, I finally understood why my friends - the ones who are foaming-at-the-mouth fans of all things Boston - hate Red Sox Nation even more than I do. I mean, they abhor it. One guy actually tried to fight me when he was blacked-out drunk and I jokingly accused him of being a card-carrying Member.

It's because my friends are real fans. Anyone self-identifying as a member of Red Sox Nation is a cheap imitation; a fan born of convenience and infecting the Faithful with that stink.

And nobody despises a knock-off more than the originator of a genuine article.

So what brought about this religious awakening? Some punk fool in a Red Sox jersey raising his arms in triumphant glory as Pedroia circled the bases.

With his back to the field.

I'll try to explain it, but you either understand what I'm saying or you don't. If you don't, there's probably a baby blue Boston hat in your closet. Or a 2007 World Champs one. Or some really trendy hat rep'ing your favorite team that would NEVER see the light of the field. And no explanation will be sufficient.

A real fan would NOT turn his/her back on a stud player from his/her favorite team. Especially one who has just hit a homerun that cuts a playoff deficit in half. On the road. I don't care what's happened up until that point. I don't care if some dude behind you poured beer on your head after B.J. Upton's homer in the previous inning (well, that's extreme but you get it).

A real fan would NOT be more concerned with taunting than showering his/her favorite team with adoration. Especially in the opposition's home.

A real fan wants his/her team to win infinitely more than he/she wants the opposition to lose.

A real fan respects the pain of the opposition as sacred because he/she has been rooting long enough to experience that same horrible sensation.

This is the unmistakable mark of the frontrunner. A bandwagonier.

This is the modus operandi of a chump who flocks to a winner because it allows him (or her, but let's be honest about how often ladies resort to such childish nonsense) to antagonize and irritate total strangers. A fool who would prefer to go to road games rather than home games because real fans don't want him around and there are less targets for derision at home.

Red Sox Nation is not the only example; every good team, no matter how fleeting the success may be, has them. Boston's are just but the most notorious at the moment, thanks to the 2004 Championship and people like Ben Affleck (apparently the spokesperson for the United Frontrunners Association of America).

And we, the Faithful of all teams, rightfully hate them because they steal our joy.

They are the loudest celebrants in good times without earning that right, a right that can only be earned by persevering through the bad times. And their volume gives the impression that they represent the more numbers than they really do.

Sure, jealousy plays some role; nobody wastes time disliking fans of a bad team.

But it can't be the whole story, even most of the story. Because I'm all out.

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