Here's the story as I see it.
The national whatever-you-want-to-call-it: media, zeitgeist, consciousness, transcendental spirit--seized upon the Boston Red Sox and their fans as a kind of little symbol cum cottage industry several years ago, making much of the Social-Darwinist stereotype that somehow, Red Sox fans enjoyed their own suffering, and willed the team to lose.
Then, after they won despite our telekinetic pessimism, the armchair psychology by the national whatever-you-want-to-call-it was that we'd drop the team, get sick of them, etc., because our telekinetic pessimism would have failed to work (I thought we liked failure? It's all too confusing and meta-meta). Perhaps we would all have packed up and headed south to become Pirates fans. I don't know.
But, well, we didn't--about 85 to 90% of Red Sox Nation stuck around, you know, long enough to see and enjoy at least the ring ceremony. People called in to sports radio in a panic over David Wells. Life progressed as usual.
Until the national whatever-you-want-to-call-it dropped this bomb on us: yeah, well, nobody likes you.
It's a testament to my own parochialism, I guess, that I only even heard about this crap through other Sox blogs today. My general reaction is complete, slightly enraged confusion.
We're supposed to care why? It isn't like Sox fans went around back in 2001 or so begging national baseball fans to like us, to respect us, to wallow in our supposed suffering with us. Most true Sox fans I know abhor Dan Shaughnessy's little curse cash cow (myself included, and please don't be the 5,678,967th person to harp on the "c-word" being used in my title, because there's an explanation for it that I've given at least 5,678,966 times, and I'm not doing it again). Most true Sox fans really think that anything west of I-495 is China, anything south of Manhattan is Mexico, and everything east of the Maine Coast is England. We could give a shit whether people like the Red Sox as much as we do.
We're not doing it to be fashionable. We're not doing it to be masochists. We're not doing it to be front-runners, now, either. We are Red Sox fans because we are. Period. If you're not, okay.
Sick of the Sox? Don't watch 'em. They've got plenty of cable revenues coming in through NESN. Sick of the 2005 World Series? Quit watching the recaps. Think the ring ceremony was a bunch of hogwash? Here's a hit from the clue stick: don't revisit it anymore. Ignore it. Move on.
Want the world to know that there are other teams besides the Sox? Go watch 'em. Root for 'em. Wear all their regalia. Start a blog about 'em (the world is sorely lacking for Colorado Rockies bloggers). Write your Congressman.
But where does this whole notion come from that the Red Sox and their fans somehow have a nefarious plot to steal all the attention and glory for themselves? And that the way to thwart it is to launch some kind of laughable campaign to, what, convince Sox fans that they suck? Is that how it works? Sox fans will see an article like ESPN's, look around at the pictures of the Rocket c. 1986, Nomar c. 1999, and Pedro c. 1999-2000 in their cubicle and say, "Holy shit, what am I doing? This isn't cool anymore!" And then...baseball will be better?
Where exactly did this idea come from?
Why, the national whatever-you-want-to-call-it, of course. You know, the one that hyped the Sox and Sox fans in the first place.
You see? It's a great big circle of crap that never ends!
Here's where Kristen comes in. She's one of my better imaginary friends, and her post on this issue is a classic. Some choice quotes:
Okay, so let me get this straight. ESPN, and, if we’re going with their estimation, the rest of the country, nay, the world, is sick of the Red Sox. But the game tonight is MUST SEE! Oh, and you can only see it on ESPN2! Your worldwide leader in sports!
Now, I’m not a psychiatrist. I have no medical training and most of the people in my life are relatively balanced, but I think even the most amateur of armchair psychologists would diagnose ESPN with a severe case of paranoid schizophrenia with a nasty dose of self-loathing. [...] So…do we look or not? Do we watch the endless repeats of SportsCenter which flash Curt Schilling’s ubiquitous bloody sock onscreen approximately every twelve seconds or do we turn away? Do we watch the “Winter of Bliss” programming about the winter as World Champions for Sox fans or do we turn to another option, perhaps Baseball Tonight featuring shots of the Ring Ceremony? Which is it, ESPN? Do you want us to love you or hate you?
Really, this is one of the best blog posts I've read in a long time.
Bill Simmons aside, ESPN certainly has a love/hate relationship with itself. Just today on Page 2 they’re bitching about Johnny Damon’s shirtless vacation photos which appear on, I shit you not, Page 3. Yesterday they ran a column – a poorly written column, by the way – entitled “86 Reasons to Hate the Red Sox.” Today, front page on ESPN.com is that photo of Schilling’s sock again, hyping tonight’s contest against the Yankees. Really, ESPN, this should be something your therapist can help you work through.
Sox fans, go read it. Ruminate on the conundrums it illuminates for a moment. Meditate on the fact that someone, somewhere, who doesn't know you, is sick of, well, not you, per se, but the idea of you. That someone, somewhere, is angered by your love for your team and your delight in their recent success.
Then ask yourself if you give a shit.