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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Deadspin: In Which We Drink In The Hilarious Naivete Of Red Sox Nation

You’d think every baseball fan on Earth right now would be more or less numb to the idea of a player being outed as a roider. Ah, but once again, we find that Red Sox fans believe they and their team poop sunshine and live on some sort of magical, negro-free cloud in the heavens. Oh sure, they expect a team like the FACKIN’ YANKEES to have roiders. But not the precious Red Sox! They’re different! Special! They’d never violate the bond they have their legendary fans, who have been known to keep entire city grids powered simply with the strength of their hearts!

You listen to me, you ####### retards. You’re just another bunch of ####### fans rooting for another ####### team. And the fact that you think you’re somehow above all that is what makes you utterly insufferable. I hope it turns out the Jason Varitek took HGH in 2004 and once killed a child in a drunken lawnmowing accident.

Lest you think I’m exaggerating about the self-importance of Red Sox fans (I can’t believe I had to hear about this on my Blackberry in the sky!), there’s this delightfully insane article in the Globe today about just how DEVASTATED they are by this. Look at that chick in the Globe’s photo. She’s gonna cry! What a loser.

Tripon Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:21 AM | 72 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: red sox, rumors, steroids

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   1. Rough Carrigan Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:34 AM (#3277098)
The irony of Deadspin attacking anyone else's false sense of importance!
   2. OCD SS Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:39 AM (#3277101)
I thought everybody knew about the kid Tek killed with the lawnmower.

The fact that he did it while waiving the lawnmower around his head like a battle axe and that the kid was hiding from him up in a tree might point to a little HGH use, too...
   3. Darren Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:44 AM (#3277102)
Calling someone a 'retard' makes you look really smart.
   4. Darren Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:46 AM (#3277103)
Also, Red Sox fans are the only ones bothered by steroids stories anymore, apparently. Everyone else just yawns, right? Never hear 6 hours of steroids hand wringing after every stupid steroids story that comes out.
   5. Dr. Vaux Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:48 AM (#3277104)
At the game last night, the Red Sox fans mostly gave Ortiz a standing ovation.
   6. Non-Youkilidian Geometry Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:48 AM (#3277105)
The first sentence of TFA:

Michael Schur (aka Ken Tremendous) is smarter and funnier than I'll ever be.


The author then demonstrates that this is true by writing a piece that is neither smart nor funny.
   7. OPS+ Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:49 AM (#3277106)
It was pretty interesting to see the louder than normal cheer that Ortiz got when he came up the plate after the PED story broke. So much for trashing AROD and Giambi.
   8. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:49 AM (#3277107)
Alternate Title

Deadspin: Making Me Rethink My Position on Buzz Bissinger
   9. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:56 AM (#3277118)
Nothing in the article that hasn't been said a million times before, but I did kind of like this one line:

"Now I don't believe in NOTHIN'! I'm going to law school!"
   10. jwb Posted: August 02, 2009 at 03:03 AM (#3277136)
We all know that 18.8% of Maypo samples contain anabolic androgenic steroids. High in vitamin B-12, too!
   11. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: August 02, 2009 at 03:18 AM (#3277160)
I want my Maypo!
   12. PJ Martinez Posted: August 02, 2009 at 03:38 AM (#3277176)
It's not the most thoughtful essay or anything, but his underlying point is reasonable. A lot of Red Sox fans have, I think, clung to what at this point can only be called a naive hope that, well, none of the Red Sox cheated. I was pretty bummed, personally, by the Manny news. The Ortiz news affected me less, among other reasons precisely because after the Manny news broke I thought, forget it, most players must have been doing something. I'm sure many other fans reached that point long before this spring, but many fans -- and perhaps especially a good number of Red Sox fans -- had not.

And the larger point -- that many Red Sox fans consider rooting for the Red Sox more special than rooting for other teams -- also seems true to me. And that is pretty annoying. Sure, the Red Sox have a long and interesting history as a team. But ultimately, allegiance to one team or another is not based on anything terrible rational or conditional as, for example, which team has the most interesting history. Maybe some such thing gets you into a team initially -- though most likely it's about where you were born or who your dad rooted for or what have you. But when fandom really takes hold, it becomes unconditional, and irrational; it's not really about any one thing.

For that reason, rooting for one team is not, at bottom, more interesting or special or important than rooting for another team. And my sense is that a lot of Red Sox fans -- probably more than most other fans (though Yankees and Cubs fans also come to mind, and surely there are some of their number among others as well) -- disagree with that.
   13. Endless Trash Posted: August 02, 2009 at 04:42 AM (#3277192)
I didn't know Sam Hutcheson wrote for Deadspin.
   14. Flynn Posted: August 02, 2009 at 04:50 AM (#3277193)
It's a dumb essay, by and large. There was no hint of an opposing POV in that Globe article he references, whether it's "I knew he did 'roids" or "I don't give a damn about 'roids'". I've got a suspicion the writer was assigned to write an article that required him to ask a hundred different Sox fans and try and find three people who were big enough rubes not to think that Papi did roids. My pool of responses has been limited to family and occasional bursts of WEEI before their idiocy makes me turn the dial, but nobody seems that surprised in New England right now.

I did see this and it bothered me. I was in Boston and even nice restaurants have got TVs turned to the game in the dining room so people can eat their food and watch the game. Again, I'm not talking pizza joints here. Can you not miss a game one night to go out for dinner? Maybe this is nationwide, but I've never seen it in San Francisco. It struck me as pushing up uncomfortably close to the point where a team takes over your life. I love the Red Sox and I love Boston, but if people can't go out to dinner without watching the Red Sox, they need to get a grip. YMMV.
   15. akrasian Posted: August 02, 2009 at 04:51 AM (#3277194)
I didn't know Sam Hutcheson wrote for Deadspin.

I didn't read the article. Whose neck should be stabbed?
   16. PJ Martinez Posted: August 02, 2009 at 05:01 AM (#3277197)
I was in Boston and even nice restaurants have got TVs turned to the game in the dining room so people can eat their food and watch the game. Again, I'm not talking pizza joints here. Can you not miss a game one night to go out for dinner? Maybe this is nationwide, but I've never seen it in San Francisco. It struck me as pushing up uncomfortably close to the point where a team takes over your life. I love the Red Sox and I love Boston, but if people can't go out to dinner without watching the Red Sox, they need to get a grip. YMMV.

There's a pretty funny take on that in this essay about Massachusetts by John Hodgman:

When a game is on, it will be broadcast in every bar, home, and taxi cab. In the finest restaurant the waiter will be checking the scores and passing news of the game between the busboy in the kitchen and the Harvard professor at the table. The professor will tell you that, in a city largely stratified by class, race, and ethnicity, sports erases these distinctions and reminds us of our common humanity. And if you tell the academic that you don't happen to like sports, he will ask what is wrong with you, nerd? And then he will punch you in the face.

By the way, that passage is longer and funnier in the version that appeared in State by State.

I was talking to a guy who used to work at the Globe, and he said that a fair number of the editors and reporters there (this was about four years ago) resented the Sox, because of how much attention they commanded in Boston. Even the guy I was talking to, who grew up in Massachusetts and is a baseball fan, had come to resent them a bit. If you work in the news, for what was at least once upon a time a pretty good paper, and the Matsuzaka signing is your paper's number one story one day, maybe you start to feel things are sort of out of whack. Of course, it's also nice that so many people in the region have at least one thing in common.
   17. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: August 02, 2009 at 05:36 AM (#3277200)
Red Sox fans hate black people!
   18. SteveF Posted: August 02, 2009 at 05:41 AM (#3277202)
The "Now I don't believe in nothin'" line is lifted directly from, as you may have guessed, a Simpson's episode.
   19. Lassus Posted: August 02, 2009 at 06:26 AM (#3277215)
I know all about Leitch and the Black Table and all the good writing that he was supposed to be a part of, but if any website on the face of the earth moves me towards Sam's stabbiness, it's Deadspin. The "we're-so-consciously-above-it-all-it-doesn't-matter-what-we-say" meme coupled with the "and therefore we're not sexist/racist/thoughtless, and you just don't get it" corollary drives me into a murderous rage.
   20. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: August 02, 2009 at 06:32 AM (#3277216)
My entire tenure with the Red Sox was spent on performance reducing drugs, so Red Sox fans can take heart in the fact that it all balanced out in the end.

If it's shown that Pujols took PEDs, that should be the final conclusive proof that PEDs are fantastic for baseball and should be legalized immediately.
   21. SteveF Posted: August 02, 2009 at 06:46 AM (#3277221)
Baseball has it pretty good compared to cycling. In cycling, blood doping works so incredibly well to improve performance that you more or less have to assume every one of the top 20 finishers in the Tour de France is doping.
   22. Athletic Supporter is USDA certified lean Posted: August 02, 2009 at 07:12 AM (#3277223)
Wow, I didn't think anything could make me feel anything for Red Sox fans other than complete hatred and loathing, but this might be it.
   23. Phil Coorey. Posted: August 02, 2009 at 07:42 AM (#3277231)
How anyone could hate and loathe me is a mystery!
   24. Endless Trash Posted: August 02, 2009 at 07:51 AM (#3277232)
I loathe you but I don't hate you.
   25. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 02, 2009 at 10:39 AM (#3277242)
I was in Boston and even nice restaurants have got TVs turned to the game in the dining room so people can eat their food and watch the game. Again, I'm not talking pizza joints here. Can you not miss a game one night to go out for dinner? Maybe this is nationwide, but I've never seen it in San Francisco. It struck me as pushing up uncomfortably close to the point where a team takes over your life. I love the Red Sox and I love Boston, but if people can't go out to dinner without watching the Red Sox, they need to get a grip. YMMV.


When a game is on, it will be broadcast in every bar, home, and taxi cab. In the finest restaurant the waiter will be checking the scores and passing news of the game between the busboy in the kitchen and the Harvard professor at the table. The professor will tell you that, in a city largely stratified by class, race, and ethnicity, sports erases these distinctions and reminds us of our common humanity. And if you tell the academic that you don't happen to like sports, he will ask what is wrong with you, nerd? And then he will punch you in the face.


I always figure that each city has something about it that distinguishes it from the rest. In Boston's case, it's a combination of extreme class differences (an unusually large and stuffy academic class locked in a seemingly permanent cultural war against a still bigger than average white working class), racial tension set against a history of abolitionism, and a fanaticism about a baseball team that's unmatched anywhere else. A comparable sports fanaticism exists in plenty of other places, but it's either directed towards a pro football team, or even more often, a college football or basketball team. Think Washington (with its all Redskins, all the time dominance of the local sports media twelve months a year), or any college town in the South or Midwest.

And as someone who thinks that Americans suffer far more from a lack of enthusiasm about anything than they do from an excess of enthusiasm, I kind of figure that you've got to take the bad with the good. Sure, plenty of Red Sox fans are little more than frontrunners, but probably less so than in nearly every other city. And if you took away Boston's sports fanaticism (which to a lesser extent extends to their other three teams), I'd almost hate to see what sort of passion would likely take its place. It probably wouldn't be a passion for civic improvement.
   26. Joe Bivens is NOT a clueless numpty Posted: August 02, 2009 at 10:48 AM (#3277245)
Where are these fans who think...well, who just think? I've never met any.
   27. -- Posted: August 02, 2009 at 12:53 PM (#3277264)
I always figure that each city has something about it that distinguishes it from the rest. In Boston's case, it's a combination of extreme class differences (an unusually large and stuffy academic class locked in a seemingly permanent cultural war against a still bigger than average white working class), racial tension set against a history of abolitionism, and a fanaticism about a baseball team that's unmatched anywhere else.

That's a provocative and erudite thesis about sports' ability to dissipate passions that would otherwise be put to ill-effect, but what evidence is there that the baseball fanaticism in Boston is unmatched? I don't think there's any question that perception of the passion is distorted by the number of accomplished outlets that assert it. (**)

(**) And, yes, these outlets quite appealingly and charmingly cut across class lines. Query whether the attention paid to the local nine by the intelligentsia -- which is unmatched -- contributes to the perception of passion. A mere 10,454 Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu. Not every franchise has founding and operational myths poetically pronounced upon it by wide swaths of the nation's most accomplished persons of letters.
   28. BDC Posted: August 02, 2009 at 01:03 PM (#3277267)
what evidence is there that the baseball fanaticism in Boston is unmatched?

I agree that it's in some ways a meta-fanaticism. In the spring of '05 I was talking to a Red Sox fan friend of mine. She said that I couldn't imagine what 2004 had been like in Boston, for Sox fans. I said, well, I was a Phillies fan in 1980, so I probably have some idea. She got very tense and solemn, and repeated slowly, grinding her teeth: "NO. You have NO IDEA what it was like. You CAN'T IMAGINE." OK, OK, I can't imagine! :)
   29. Repoz Posted: August 02, 2009 at 01:15 PM (#3277269)
Deadspin is the reason I love CStB...plus the rekids are better!
   30. rLr Is King Of The Romans And Above Grammar Posted: August 02, 2009 at 01:18 PM (#3277270)
How anyone could hate and loathe me is a mystery!

The poor bastards whose job it is to put up traffic cones on Australia's roads.
   31. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 02, 2009 at 01:35 PM (#3277275)
I always figure that each city has something about it that distinguishes it from the rest. In Boston's case, it's a combination of extreme class differences (an unusually large and stuffy academic class locked in a seemingly permanent cultural war against a still bigger than average white working class), racial tension set against a history of abolitionism, and a fanaticism about a baseball team that's unmatched anywhere else.

That's a provocative and erudite thesis about sports' ability to dissipate passions that would otherwise be put to ill-effect, but what evidence is there that the baseball fanaticism in Boston is unmatched? I don't think there's any question that perception of the passion is distorted by the number of accomplished outlets that assert it. (**)

(**) And, yes, these outlets quite appealingly and charmingly cut across class lines. Query whether the attention paid to the local nine by the intelligentsia -- which is unmatched -- contributes to the perception of passion. A mere 10,454 Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.


Well, as much as I like to cite history to back me up, when I spoke about Boston's unmatched baseball fanaticism I wasn't trying to claim that it's always been like this. It didn't really start until 1967, and even then it's only been since the wild card put the Red Sox in almost permanent postseason contention that it's gotten almost completely out of hand. Throw in the usual suspects of a booming economy and a deliberately undersized ballpark and you've got the perfect formula for a sellout every night (no embarrassing rows of empty seats like you have in Yankee Stadium), and when you combine that with the reach of NESN and the ExtraInnings/MLB.com factors, it's hard to put a lid on it. In pretty much every park on the East Coast outside of Yankee Stadium and CitiField (and a few others as well), when the Red Sox are the road team it's hard to tell that from the crowd noise.

Not every franchise has founding and operational myths poetically pronounced upon it by wide swaths of the nation's most accomplished persons of letters.

And that's part of what I was trying to get at. The greater Boston area has a unique mix of an intellectual elite whose local influence is much larger than that of (say) New York or Washington or Los Angeles, combined with a still large white working class component that has a long standing attachment to Boston's baseball teams. There's no fan base anywhere quite like it, though there was a brief moment in the early years of the Mets when you had somewhat of the same thing---the anti-Yankees populism of the outer boroughs combined with intellectuals looking for some way to connect to "the real America," yada yada yada. "Red Sox Nation" does get to be a bit much at times, but it's been like this for over 40 years and it doesn't look to be going away anytime soon. And other cities should envy it, not knock it.
   32. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 02, 2009 at 01:58 PM (#3277279)
All those who mock Red Sox fanaticism truly do not get it. I've spent a lot of time professionally in many of the big US sports markets (though admittedly fewer on the West Coast...), and I went to a university (Syracuse) with large numbers of fans of NY, Buffalo, Phily, Washington, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle...you name it. I started my educational career as a braodcast jouornalism major at the school that produced crazy numbners of the biggest names in sports media (Costas, Stockton, Albert, Tirico, McDonough, Glickman, and others like Dick Clark and Ted Koppel), and I'll tell you what: Red Sox fans are absolutely, to a fault, waaaay more fanatical than any other baseball team's fans. I would be surrounded by Yankee and Mets fans, and they'd claim to be fanatical, and by the end of college, as we prepared to go into the world (in the mid-90s), they all said the same thing: "We thought we were the biggest baseball fans, and we have jack #### on Red Sox fans. You are everywhere, and you are crazy. You know the friggin' waist size of AAAA outfielders. You follow every game, every minute (and this was before Blackberries and the Internet), and have an opinion about everything with the team. You spend hours talking about what you will do when the team wins the World Series, finally. You are obsessed in a way no other team's fans are obsessed."

The Red Sox are the only reason the Boston Globe is still alive. The paper's non-sportswriters should thank the Red Sox every day for still having a job.

When the Red Sox won the whole thing in 2004, it absolutely changed the lives of longtime Red Sox fans. Because they grow up post-Curse, my kids (born in 2003 and 2005) live in a world, here in New Hampshire, that is meaningfully different from the culture here in New England that I (and my dad, and my grandfather) grew up in. Our lives are better because of it - because the thousands and thousands of hours I spent between 1981 and 2004 watching, reading, thinking, and mimicking everything Red Sox was very different from the thousands of hours spent on them since 2004. One was a defensive obsession. One is an offensive obsession.

I heard people say things like, "Will Red Sox fans care as much about the Red Sox when they finally win a World Series?" The answer is clear: Yes, at least as much. Now, we want to win it every year, and we think we can win it every year. We want there to be a "Red Sox Way" of competing annually for the Whole Thing, and we want to perfect it.

The Patriots have, interestingly, developed a "Patriot Way" of winning the Whole Thing A Lot, with many similarities to the Red Sox Way. Now, the Patriots cover our obsession from the final Red Sox game until the Patriots' last game. Because the Patriots have often been playing into late January or early February, this provides the perfect rhythm for preparing for the Red Sox. We get about three weeks off of football and baseball (Go Bruins!), and then everybody gets on a plane and flies to Florida for Spring Training. Fort Myers is always sold out now. In fact, I was with my family in Fort Lauderdale, clear across the state, a few years ago, to see an Orioles game, and it was sold out, too. I was told the Orioles never filled half their seats, so why was this such a zoo? Somewhat grumpily, the employee told me, it was because all these Red Sox fans drove hours to see the Red Sox play...for a f###ing spring training game in early March!

I'm not saying that being a longtime Red Sox fan makes you a better fan than other teams' fans, and I'm definitely not saying that being a Red Sox fan is somehow healthier, either. But people that think we're not more obsessed, in general, as a group, than other baseball teams' fans needs to spend a year up here. It's not close.
   33. BDC Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:03 PM (#3277285)
when I spoke about Boston's unmatched baseball fanaticism I wasn't trying to claim that it's always been like this. It didn't really start until 1967

There was certainly a long hiatus in the 20s and 30s, Andy, but accounts of the 1900s and 10s remark on the Royal Rooters singing "Tessie" and how uncompromisingly obnoxious they were.
   34. -- Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:17 PM (#3277293)
Boston Red Sox AL attendance ranks, 1991-99:

91: 4th
92: 6th
93: 4th
94: 7th
95: 4th
96: 6th
97: 7th
98: 9th
99: 6th

Lest we worry about park size, in none of these years did the Sox draw the 2.771 million fans representing 81 games at full, listed capacity.
   35. PJ Martinez Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:30 PM (#3277305)
Well, park size is still a factor, isn't it? Just because they didn't sell out all 81 games every year doesn't mean a capacity of 35,000 (or whatever it was then) will lead to different totals than a capacity of 50,000.

In any case, I do think the current pitch of Red Sox devotion kicked off toward the tail end of those years, a little after Pedro arrived. His games became events. Then there was that All-Star Game with Ted Williams and the amazing playoff series with the Indians (in what was, as far as I can tell, the team's first consecutive playoff appearance since the teens) -- followed by their first-ever full playoff series against the Yankees. Then second-place finishes to the Yanks several years in a row, culminating in 2003 and finally 2004. By then, the citywide fandom had probably reached a new peak -- certainly a higher point than ever before in my lifetime.
   36. PJ Martinez Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:52 PM (#3277315)
#35, first sentence: "won't lead," not "will lead"
   37. -- Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:56 PM (#3277318)
There's no fan base anywhere quite like it, though there was a brief moment in the early years of the Mets when you had somewhat of the same thing---the anti-Yankees populism of the outer boroughs combined with intellectuals looking for some way to connect to "the real America," yada yada yada.

True confession: If the Mets of Angell's essays ca. 1962-75 still existed, I'd be a fan. They obviously don't, and it's more than just the black uniforms.
   38. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:57 PM (#3277320)
#34, it is true about the tickets being more easily available. I used to walk up and get tickets for Sox games at the ticket booth. No longer....
   39. -- Posted: August 02, 2009 at 02:59 PM (#3277322)
Well, park size is still a factor, isn't it? Just because they didn't sell out all 81 games every year doesn't mean a capacity of 35,000 (or whatever it was then) will lead to different totals than a capacity of 50,000.

Sure, but I'm pretty sure you'll find a bigger haircut in the numbers than "We sold out 70 games, you can't expect us to sell out April Wednesdays against the Royals."
   40. PJ Martinez Posted: August 02, 2009 at 03:03 PM (#3277323)
I hate "The Patriot Way," I have mixed feelings about "The Red Sox Way," and I hate basketball that is played "the right way" -- trademark to Larry Brown (though I do love basketball teams that pass a lot, which some might think of in those terms).

Also, I think there is a distinction to be drawn between the number of obsessive Red Sox fans and the value of one's individual devotion to the team. Just because there are lots of people who have the same obsession does not make that obsession more worthy than others -- in fact, sometimes I find it preferable to devote myself to something that seems more neglected. The last time I lived in the Boston area I started drifting toward the Celtics and somewhat away from the Red Sox, even though the Celtics were terrible at the time. It was just nice to have a passionate rooting interest that felt more personal and less de rigeur, or something (also, I just love basketball). Caring about Gerald Green and Delonte West was more fun for me than caring about Matt Clement and Mark Loretta.
   41. -- Posted: August 02, 2009 at 03:17 PM (#3277331)
Also, I think there is a distinction to be drawn between the number of obsessive Red Sox fans and the value of one's individual devotion to the team. Just because there are lots of people who have the same obsession does not make that obsession more worthy than others -- in fact, sometimes I find it preferable to devote myself to something that seems more neglected.

There have to be more than a few real Sox fans that are driven to near-insanity by the recently-minted cute and cloying version. If Tiger fandom became the dramatic spine of a Jimmy Fallon/Drew Barrymore movie based on a book about Arsenal, I'd think pretty seriously about finding another team -- or jumping off a bridge.(**)

(**) Unlikely, given that Detroit has about as much appeal to the mythmakers as Chernobyl. On the other hand, Detroit has fallen to such extreme depths it's not inconceivable that hipness is just around the corner.
   42. Answer Guy, without side hustles. Posted: August 02, 2009 at 03:29 PM (#3277335)
There have to be more than a few real Sox fans that are driven to near-insanity by the recently-minted cute and cloying version. If Tiger fandom became the dramatic spine of a Jimmy Fallon/Drew Barrymore movie based on a book about Arsenal, I'd think pretty seriously about finding another team -- or jumping off a bridge.(**)


Oh, it's annoying. No doubt about it. When your team wins, the frontrunners will show up and lots of them won't have any plausible explanation for where they were in, say, 1997. And the casual fans will show up too, and the celebrities. And some of that is just winning, and some of that is a marketing campaign that has made them one of the most famous sports franchises in the world. That's part of how they can afford to have a payroll most franchises can't, which in turn explains the perennial state of contention that currently exists.

There are definitely tradeoffs, and there's value to having seen both ends of the cycle, so to speak, but it's still a more satisfying universe to live in than the one where we hear "1918" every place we go.
   43. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 02, 2009 at 03:40 PM (#3277340)
when I spoke about Boston's unmatched baseball fanaticism I wasn't trying to claim that it's always been like this. It didn't really start until 1967

There was certainly a long hiatus in the 20s and 30s, Andy, but accounts of the 1900s and 10s remark on the Royal Rooters singing "Tessie" and how uncompromisingly obnoxious they were.


True, but again, my point was about the living fan, not the ghosts of McGreevy's saloon. But here's the dirt on Red Sox attendance: From 1901 through 1918, the Sox usually ranked 1st or 2nd in the AL. From 1919 through 1933, they were always in the bottom half, and most often 7th or 8th (i.e. last). From 1934 (New Fenway Park) through 1966 they were mid-pack mediocre. In 1967 they more than doubled their attendance, jumped from 8th to 1st, and just about the only thing that's prevented them from being right at the top ever since has been their small park capacity.

Granted that the small capacity exaggerates demand (and jacks up the ticket prices), but that's way more than made up for by all those premium games where they could easily have filled a park the size of the original Yankee Stadium. And I have absolutely no doubt that if you had a 55,000 seat version of Fenway Park, the Red Sox would be 1/2 in attendance every year. (NOTE: I am definitely not advocating this.)
   44. Answer Guy, without side hustles. Posted: August 02, 2009 at 03:49 PM (#3277346)
And I have absolutely no doubt that if you had a 55,000 seat version of Fenway Park, the Red Sox would be 1/2 in attendance every year. (NOTE: I am definitely not advocating this.)


They might now, but the trick to all of this is a kind of forced scarcity. If you know you (generally) have to make the commitment to attend in advance, or you risk either being shut out or paying a premium to some third party, you're more likely to buy them sooner rather than later. Even if the Red Sox were to have a weak season, say next year, enough tickets would have been sold in advance that attendance wouldn't fall far.

With a higher capacity, yes, the team would continue to sell lots of tickets as long as they kept up this current run. But when the run ends, and they always do, and people knew that they could be much more causal about when they buy tickets, the more fair-weather among the fanbase starts staying home more often. If this continues more than a couple of years, eventually you've got mostly empty ballparks, like Baltimore has now.
   45. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 02, 2009 at 04:23 PM (#3277361)
I think there is nothing to hate about "The Patriot Way", especially given the common constraint all teams share in the salary cap and draft slots. Simply put, the team does a better job of identifying talent than most teams (and define talent differently than many teams), have a knack of being able to take 53 guys and get them to buy into a team concept, and peg a value on talent. If a player, no matter how beloved, goes beyond that value, they let him go or trade him. The team also values draft picks differently than many teams, seeking to avoiding the big guaranteed money that comes with 1st round picks. They value 2nd round picks highly, and generally find more value-at-the-slot in 2nd round picks than most 1st round picks. They are willing to trade down this year to get higher value next year. They do this better than anybody. What's not to like there? There are other ways to succeed, too, in the NFL, and I've got no problem with those ways, either (the Steelers have been very successful this decade, as have the Colts, for example).
   46. Flynn Posted: August 02, 2009 at 04:28 PM (#3277368)
The Sox have usually been a tough ticket to get in the last 20 years. I remember being a boy and watching my dad try to get tickets in 1992, which was the worst Red Sox team I've ever known in my short life. There wasn't a whole lot other than bleacher seats. They may not have been selling out every game, but 29K in a 33K stadium for a bad baseball team is pretty good. It will be interesting to see what happens when they stink with the ticket prices they have now. I'm sure there will be more seats available (ticket demand is definitely down this year due to the economy) but I doubt you will see great gaps in Fenway Park.

One thing that needs to be recognized in addition to the usual comments about Red Sox fans is how successful John Henry's team has been at marketing the Sox. The improvements to Fenway Park, the marketing campaigns, the improvements to NESN, the consolidation of minor league clubs in NEw England and the merchandising have all contributed to a passionate fanbase. In 2001, before the Henry group bought the team, Red Sox fans were definitely passionate. Each time I've come over since then, it seems to have gotten even more passionate, to the point that the principal recreation of people in New England seems to be following Red Sox baseball. The provinces always loved the Red Sox, but they have really been a titan in marketing to out of town fans. The Yawkeys always ignored places like Connecticut where the Red Sox had to compete with the Yankees for fans - the new ownership group embraces the challenge, and you definitely see way more Red Sox hats even in Fairfield County than you did 10 years ago.
   47. Jeff K. Posted: August 02, 2009 at 04:33 PM (#3277370)
The bandwagon is a direct result of, as AG puts it well, the marketing campaigns and the grabs for sentiment that came before. No die-hard Sox fans were complaining when "all of America" was pulling for their team to win over just about anyone other than their own team. Now, the piper, he would like his money.
   48. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 02, 2009 at 04:38 PM (#3277375)
And I have absolutely no doubt that if you had a 55,000 seat version of Fenway Park, the Red Sox would be 1/2 in attendance every year. (NOTE: I am definitely not advocating this.)

They might now, but the trick to all of this is a kind of forced scarcity. If you know you (generally) have to make the commitment to attend in advance, or you risk either being shut out or paying a premium to some third party, you're more likely to buy them sooner rather than later. Even if the Red Sox were to have a weak season, say next year, enough tickets would have been sold in advance that attendance wouldn't fall far.

With a higher capacity, yes, the team would continue to sell lots of tickets as long as they kept up this current run. But when the run ends, and they always do, and people knew that they could be much more causal about when they buy tickets, the more fair-weather among the fanbase starts staying home more often. If this continues more than a couple of years, eventually you've got mostly empty ballparks, like Baltimore has now.


All that's true, Answer Guy. And as you probably know, the Red Sox tried for many years in the 50's and 60's to get the city to build them a new stadium, but once they realized that this wasn't going to happen, they began parlaying their new-found popularity into a not-so-subtle marketing campaign that focused on buying advance tickets as the only sure way to get a seat. That's why by 1983 you'd see much bigger crowds in late September than you would in April, even though the Red Sox were essentially out of the race just after Labor Day. When you see an announced paid attendance of 21,268 for a midweek game against Milwaukee (as opposed to several sub-10,000 crowds in April), long after both teams had been eliminated, you have to wonder just how many of those tickets were actually used, and how many of them had been bought in February.

But given all the factors in their favor today, I can't see the Red Sox falling out of contention for the foreseeable future. And with that in mind, I doubt if they'd have too much trouble consistently selling out a 55,000 seat park, unless they went the way of the Yankees and started charging $2,500 for their best seats.

----------------

the consolidation of minor league clubs in NEw England

Since I don't pay much attention to minor league baseball, I hadn't even known that. But intuitively that strikes me as a small stroke of genius.
   49. Lassus Posted: August 02, 2009 at 05:00 PM (#3277393)
All those who mock Red Sox fanaticism truly do not get it.

I think all those who mock any fanaticism get it just fine. Hence the mocking.
   50. PJ Martinez Posted: August 02, 2009 at 05:18 PM (#3277412)
I think there is nothing to hate about "The Patriot Way"

Mostly I had in mind the soulless-seeming singled-mindedness of Belichick's evil impersonal vision. But I should probably note that I don't really like football.
   51. BDC Posted: August 02, 2009 at 05:35 PM (#3277423)
Fenway is kept packed as well not just by the scarcity of seats in the park but by the scarcity of old ballparks in the world. If you are going to Boston on business or anywhere in New England on vacation, Fenway Park is a tourist attraction even for quite casual fans. Wrigley Field has that status, too. While the old park in Cleveland, and old Comiskey, and Tiger Stadium were still open – well, it's not like anybody went to any of them for the park experience; but neither did anybody go to Wrigley in the 70s except Lee Elia's underemployed fans. The disappearance of all the other truly old-style parks has concentrated people's minds on the two that are left; I suspect they could sell them both out now indefinitely just on that strength.

Obviously baseball fans will go to other parks as tourists if they happen to be in town, and in rare cases plan pilgrimage tours. But nobody sits down with their SO and says, "hey, honey, when we get to the Grand Canyon we're going to be so close to Chase Field formerly Bank One Ballpark!"
   52. Joey B. is counting the days to Trea Turner Posted: August 02, 2009 at 06:51 PM (#3277497)
I think there is nothing to hate about "The Patriot Way"

Other than all the cheating that was going on, the "Tuck Rule" travesty, and seeing Bill Belicheat act like an unsportsmanlike sore loser at the end of the Super Bowl loss to the Giants.
   53. cardsfanboy Posted: August 02, 2009 at 07:57 PM (#3277610)
"We thought we were the biggest baseball fans, and we have jack #### on Red Sox fans. You are everywhere, and you are crazy.

and yet I've lived in six different states, and four different countries and have never in my life met a Red Sox fan, but you guys are everywhere...(I mean fans living outside of Boston, I've met traveling fans like MHS on vacation, just never met one who livved in a different city)
   54. rr Posted: August 02, 2009 at 08:07 PM (#3277636)
I work with three NE transplants, Red Sox and Cs fans. We were talking about this a few weeks ago, and I asked them how many people showed up for Ted Williams' last game in Fenway. They flat-out thought I was lying when I told them. We actually went to a computer and to BBREF before they believed me.

So, I agree with Andy: the Red Sox franchise as it exists and as we know it today really started in 1967. Since that time until 2004, the team was a combo of "usually good" and "perpetual underdog." Those two things together are a potent draw.
   55. Jeff K. Posted: August 02, 2009 at 08:26 PM (#3277675)
I work with three NE transplants, Red Sox and Cs fans. We were talking about this a few weeks ago, and I asked them how many people showed up for Ted Williams' last game in Fenway.

It took me a couple of reads to figure out that you weren't mocking them for not knowing the answer to this.

Though don't I recall that there was something odd about that game, like it was a makeup, or rain delayed, or something that contributed to the lackluster attendance? Or have my mental elves gone on strike again?
   56. Answer Guy, without side hustles. Posted: August 02, 2009 at 10:48 PM (#3277805)
When you see an announced paid attendance of 21,268 for a midweek game against Milwaukee (as opposed to several sub-10,000 crowds in April), long after both teams had been eliminated, you have to wonder just how many of those tickets were actually used, and how many of them had been bought in February.


Things have gotten so nuts that it's barely a factor anymore, but the weather on April evenings in Boston frequently sucks for baseball. Game time temperatures in the lower 40s are pretty common, and you even see the mercury down near freezing for some games some seasons. Throw in the frequent rain....

Usually the schedule-generating gnomes have the Red Sox open on the road and for good reason. (But you can't really start a season with a 20-game road trip; even 12-game road trips are pretty rare these days.)

Yeah, I know, football fans put up with worse. Night football games in cold weather cities aren't all that common, college or pro. And in those case the fanbase isn't being asked to turn out multiple times a week for such games.
   57. The District Attorney Posted: August 02, 2009 at 10:58 PM (#3277814)
Clearly Deadspin is acting here as a media mouthpiece for the Red Sox front office. Take this as a sign that the Red Sox are trying to unload their fanbase, and are looking to tear down public opinion of it so they'll look good when they drop it.
   58. tfbg9 Posted: August 02, 2009 at 10:59 PM (#3277815)
That's a provocative and erudite thesis about sports' ability to dissipate passions that would otherwise be put to ill-effect, but what evidence is there that the baseball fanaticism in Boston is unmatched?


TV ratings uphold this notion. IIRC, the Sox have the highest. I might be misremembering...also, Boston is the only
major city where the Sports radio station (WEEI) is the highest-rated radio staion--again, IIRC.
   59. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 02, 2009 at 11:01 PM (#3277817)
Clearly Deadspin is acting here as a media mouthpiece for the Red Sox front office. Take this as a sign that the Red Sox are trying to unload their fanbase, and are looking to tear down public opinion of it so they'll look good when they drop it.


A nice take on the vi staple, DA.
   60. tfbg9 Posted: August 02, 2009 at 11:06 PM (#3277822)
It's not particularly close:


http://tvbythenumbers.com/2009/07/16/boston-red-sox-lead-local-baseball-ratings-but-texas-rangers-show-the-biggest-increase/22972

Sox = 9.4

Cards = 7.4

Yanks = 4.8 (hah!)
   61. JC in DC Posted: August 02, 2009 at 11:06 PM (#3277823)
A guy I knew once said he hated the Red Sox, all their fans and all the players, and hoped they all died terrible, premature deaths.

I'm glad I don't think that way.
   62. BarrettsHiddenBall Posted: August 02, 2009 at 11:35 PM (#3277845)
That's a provocative and erudite thesis about sports' ability to dissipate passions that would otherwise be put to ill-effect, but what evidence is there that the baseball fanaticism in Boston is unmatched? I don't think there's any question that perception of the passion is distorted by the number of accomplished outlets that assert it.


Not conclusive proof so much as an example of the culture, but the destination sign on MBTA buses around Boston and Cambridge routinely flashes "Out of Service/GO SOX!!!!"--in early May, not just playoff time. Throw in the earlier example of fancy restaurants airing games in the dining room, and you get a sense of the culture. A relatively large number of people care a lot about the local baseball team, and pretty much everyone has at least a passing interest if only to make conversation. While there's some distortion from factors like the media or the number of students who pass through, it really is a perfect storm of baseball fandom. The season coincides with the good parts of the year (more or less), the city has a long history with the sport and a historic ballpark, and you've now got five straight 'generations' who've been hooked ('67, '75, '86/'88/'90, Nomar/Pedro, '03-'07).
   63. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 03, 2009 at 12:04 AM (#3277871)
When you see an announced paid attendance of 21,268 for a midweek game against Milwaukee (as opposed to several sub-10,000 crowds in April), long after both teams had been eliminated, you have to wonder just how many of those tickets were actually used, and how many of them had been bought in February.

Things have gotten so nuts that it's barely a factor anymore, but the weather on April evenings in Boston frequently sucks for baseball. Game time temperatures in the lower 40s are pretty common, and you even see the mercury down near freezing for some games some seasons. Throw in the frequent rain....


FWIW, I'd meant 1982, not 1983, but those three games in April were all day games, with paid attendance figures of 9,780, 8,743, and 7,942. The last home game of the season was a night game on September 30th, long after the Sox had been eliminated, and the crowd was 21,268.
   64. -- Posted: August 03, 2009 at 12:14 AM (#3277874)
FWIW, I'd meant 1982, not 1983, but those three games in April were all day games, with paid attendance figures of 9,780, 8,743, and 7,942. The last home game of the season was a night game on September 30th, long after the Sox had been eliminated, and the crowd was 21,268.

The Sox were in contention almost all of 1982 after a so-so 1981 that featured a 57-day strike, botching the Fisk contract, and trading off Lynn and Burleson. The attendance pattern strikes me as the typical wait-and-see in April, then flocking to the park to see a contender. I'd wager the tickets for September 30 were bought sometime early summer -- again, the type of thing you'd see in a dozen or more big league cities.
   65. -- Posted: August 03, 2009 at 12:24 AM (#3277875)
It's not particularly close:


http://tvbythenumbers.com/2009/07/16/boston-red-sox-lead-local-baseball-ratings-but-texas-rangers-show-the-biggest-increase/22972

Sox = 9.4

Cards = 7.4

Yanks = 4.8 (hah!)


Not that the Sox don't have a devoted following, but comparing RSN viewership across markets strikes me as unreliable. RSNs are subject to the whim of cable systems -- whether they're on basic tiers, whether they have a fee, whether and how often they're in HD, etc. Markets also differ in the number of games that are shown on channels other than RSNs. Unless and until those factors are controlled for, you really aren't comparing apples with apples.

New York has two teams and the Met SNY ratings are over 4 if I'm recalling recent tabloid reports correctly. Other markets have two teams, including Chicago (whose teams are shown on WGN, which I'm not sure counts as an RSN). Chicago's an 8 combined, just for the RSNs.

EDIT: Mets are a 3.2 for '09, making New York also an 8 combined. And Yankee fans have to put up with Michael Kay, which the raw numbers don't account for.
   66. Iwakuma Chameleon (jonathan) Posted: August 03, 2009 at 12:27 AM (#3277878)
I know all about Leitch and the Black Table and all the good writing that he was supposed to be a part of, but if any website on the face of the earth moves me towards Sam's stabbiness, it's Deadspin.


It's not Leitch there anymore, which is a large part of the problem. He left the site to his over-testosteroned, football-football-football Kissing Suzy Kolber buddies.

Sure, plenty of Red Sox fans are little more than frontrunners, but probably less so than in nearly every other city.


Are you serious? Honestly? You think Red Sox fans are frontrunners less so than in nearly every other city? That doesn't even begin to approach making sense. It's not like there are even frontrunners to begin with in, say, Kansas City.

agree that it's in some ways a meta-fanaticism. In the spring of '05 I was talking to a Red Sox fan friend of mine. She said that I couldn't imagine what 2004 had been like in Boston, for Sox fans. I said, well, I was a Phillies fan in 1980, so I probably have some idea. She got very tense and solemn, and repeated slowly, grinding her teeth: "NO. You have NO IDEA what it was like. You CAN'T IMAGINE."


I go to school in Boston, and this is pretty much how I've interacted with every Red Sox fan I know. Every victory for Red Sox fans is the sweetest, every loss the most crushing. They have a monopoly on emotion. (My favorite example is the 2003 playoffs. Aaron Boone took out their heart and crushed it, but none of them even remember how they got to the ALCS that year in the first place - by winning a series that basically took the collective hearts of A's fans out and crushed them. When I point this out, I'm usually told "I don't understand."

Which is precisely why the rest of us find Boston fans so damn obnoxious. The point about the "naive" reaction is, in my opinion, way off base. It's even worse. Most of these same fans who have harped on Bonds and A-Rod and Giambi all these years basically shrugged their shoulders and said "it figures" when it was their stars getting caught. Which would be fine, if they hadn't been right there at the front of the line to eagerly tell A-Rod what a cheat he was a few months ago. It's insufferable.
   67. -- Posted: August 03, 2009 at 12:33 AM (#3277880)
I go to school in Boston, and this is pretty much how I've interacted with every Red Sox fan I know. Every victory for Red Sox fans is the sweetest, every loss the most crushing. They have a monopoly on emotion. (My favorite example is the 2003 playoffs. Aaron Boone took out their heart and crushed it, but none of them even remember how they got to the ALCS that year in the first place - by winning a series that basically took the collective hearts of A's fans out and crushed them. When I point this out, I'm usually told "I don't understand."

At least it's better than, "A's fans don't have hearts."
   68. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 03, 2009 at 12:33 AM (#3277881)
Most of these same fans who have harped on Bonds and A-Rod and Giambi all these years basically shrugged their shoulders and said "it figures" when it was their stars getting caught. Which would be fine, if they hadn't been the right there at the front of the line to eagerly tell A-Rod what a cheat he was a few months ago. It's insufferable.


Which is pretty much how every fan base reacts (See Dodgers, Manny vs. Bonds). I don't think Sox fans are any worse on this count, and I suspect Yankee fans would have reacted the exact same way if the order of relevations was reversed.

I will concede that too many Sox fans exercise that stupid, "You wouldn't understand" nonsense. Long before 2004, the idea that any Red Sox fan my age (42) or under was "suffering" was preposterous. We rooted for a team that had basically been competitive (or close to it) almost every year of our lives. We had it pretty damn good, even before the title.
   69. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 03, 2009 at 12:43 AM (#3277884)
Every victory for Red Sox fans is the sweetest, every loss the most crushing. They have a monopoly on emotion. My favorite example is the 2003 playoffs. Aaron Boone took out their heart and crushed it, but none of them even remember how they got to the ALCS that year in the first place - by winning a series that basically took the collective hearts of A's fans out and crushed them. When I point this out, I'm usually told "I don't understand."
Bingo, bullseye, yahtzee. Whenever I've brought up the Dave Henderson one-strike-away homer that sunk the Angels in 1986 and how incredibly painful that was, a Boston fan will invariably blow it off with an oh-yeah?-Buckner-and-you-don't-know-pain. The Red Sox fans I've know don't just believe they're better fans, but that they're the only fans; to them, people who don't root for the Sox don't know what it's like to be a "real baseball fan."
   70. -- Posted: August 03, 2009 at 12:45 AM (#3277886)
Bingo, bullseye, yahtzee. Whenever I've brought up the Dave Henderson one-strike-away homer that sunk the Angels in 1986 and how incredibly painful that was, a Boston fan will invariably blow it off with an oh-yeah?-Buckner-and-you-don't-know-pain. The Red Sox fans I've know don't just believe they're better fans, but that they're the only fans; to them, people who don't root for the Sox don't know what it's like to be a "real baseball fan."

The '86 postseason proves their case. The Henderson homer only caused Donnie Moore to kill himself. Could you imagine what he would have done if he'd pitched for the Sox?
   71. JRVJ (formerly Delta Socrates) Posted: August 03, 2009 at 01:13 AM (#3277896)
Pfft, killing yourself is nothing, the Bostonians would say.

If he'd been a Red Sox, he'd have died, then would have been frozen criogenically so he could be cloned and brought back to life, brought back to life, and then killed himself again.

Or something.
   72. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 03, 2009 at 02:37 AM (#3277949)
Pfft, killing yourself is nothing, the Bostonians would say.

If he'd been a Red Sox, he'd have died, then would have been frozen criogenically so he could be cloned and brought back to life, brought back to life, and then killed himself again.

Or something.


Or at the very minimum, he would have come down to breakfast and announced to the entire team that he'd just swallowed a bottle of carbolic acid..

--------------------------

FWIW, I'd meant 1982, not 1983, but those three games in April were all day games, with paid attendance figures of 9,780, 8,743, and 7,942. The last home game of the season was a night game on September 30th, long after the Sox had been eliminated, and the crowd was 21,268.

The Sox were in contention almost all of 1982 after a so-so 1981 that featured a 57-day strike, botching the Fisk contract, and trading off Lynn and Burleson. The attendance pattern strikes me as the typical wait-and-see in April, then flocking to the park to see a contender. I'd wager the tickets for September 30 were bought sometime early summer -- again, the type of thing you'd see in a dozen or more big league cities.


Of course there's no way to prove exactly when those tickets were bought, but in fact beginning in the early 70's the Red Sox were the first team to make a big promotion of advance single game tickets---in the previous Winter. And IIRC they were also the first team to slap an extra charge on bleacher tickets that were bought on the day of the game---and likely the first team even to offer advance sales on bleacher tickets for any regular season game. OTOH all the way up through 1984 they were still offering unreserved grandstand seats for games where smaller crowds were anticipated.

By contrast, in that same year the Orioles drew a total of only 27,000 fans for a late September series against the Tigers, at a time when the O's were only two games back of Milwaukee. But OTOH they drew over 150,000 on the last three days of the season (a DH and two single games), of which the overwhelming majority was day of game sales. The same thing took place in San Francisco. The point is that until very recently, Boston was the only park where advance purchasing of single game tickets was ever a serious factor in ticket sales for more than a few years in a row. It's commonplace now, but not until the new wave of parks started being built did you see it in more than a handful of cities.

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