Friend or Foe?

Remember when the Boston Red Sox were the national underdog? Remember when it was big news how they just couldn’t sneak their way past those mean old Yankees? Remember when the Yankees were the spend-happy bullies of the American League? Remember when Boston fans weren’t the most loathed visiting fans in the sport?

Amazing what two World Series titles in three years can do to turn things around. If you haven’t been to a White Sox/Red Sox series at Comiskey in the past five or six years, here’s what you’ve been missing out on:

  • A flood of fans wearing jerseys with players’ names on them, even though the team’s jerseys don’t actually have players’ names on them.
  • Fans standing up and applauding over such game-changing moments as first-inning walks with two outs, saying things like “That’s right! We play the game the right way!”
  • A half-informed view of the home team’s roster and a slight sense of entitlement in the way they ask, as though it were a foregone conclusion any team’s star player would kill to defect to such an obviously magical franchise.
  • A presumption that what happens to them is not just important but also culturally significant. As an example, at game one of the 2005 ALDS sat a fan in his early 20s, decked out in his number 24 jersey and jawing back and forth with the home crowd around him. Finally, said visiting team’s fan stood up and asked everyone who would listen, “As baseball fans, don’t you agree what happened last year was the best thing that’s ever happened to the game?” The details of what happened next aren’t important, but rest assured his nice jersey (with the player’s name on it!) was never the same, and it’s highly possible that no elderly gentleman in the world may ever issue such ominous threats again as the ones the man two rows up in the vintage Nellie Fox jersey issued.

When their team kept running into the same brick wall, you sort of felt bad for them but winning, somehow, has made Red Sox fans into losers. Into that which they supposedly hated. Into the kind of fan they used to decry as fundamentally evil and wrong.

Winning turned them into Yankees fans.