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It has become fashionable to bash the "Pink Hats", whom I will define as the "bandwagon class" of Red Sox Nation.
According to Kate Jackson of The Boston Globe, "Next to Yankees caps and Giants jerseys, the pink Red Sox cap has become the most polarizing piece of clothing a Bostonian can wear." She argues that the pink hat generation simply hasn't suffered enough.
That reasoning pervades many arenas. Old time physicians who took call every second or third evening and who worked 100 hour weeks in training argue that younger trainees don't pay the dues that they did. Some military veterans argue that the armed forces have watered down recruit training (boot camp) to accommodate the younger generation. Even my children lament the reading, long hours, and tests challenging them in college? Who knew? I don't remember studying hard or taking tests in college?
Maybe people have forgotten the old saying "Baseball is too much of a game to be a business, and too much of a business to be a game." For professional sports owners, merchandising team loyalty is a dollars and sense business. Surely not every Red Sox fan is a Fever Pitch Ben Wrightman clone, but many of us own Red Sox jackets, hats, sweat shirts, T-shirts, wastebaskets, and more. Don't we?
"Victory has a thousand fathers and defeat is an orphan." Right? The Red Sox success has spawned its own literature in the wake of the conversion of the franchise from bedraggled to champion that began in 1967 with Carl Yastrzemski and "The Impossible Dream". The Red Sox streak of 388 consecutive Fenway sellouts coming into 2008 is proof enough of that conversion.
For me, the Pink Hats only represent another means of telling the world "I am part of something bigger than myself." They symbolize a shared passion throughout the region. Whose food doesn't taste better and water cooler conversation go better than after a Sox win. Heck, you could even get a free iced coffee or tea at Double D's after a win.
For those indignant at the Pink Hats, how much suffering is enough? Did you hear the Red Sox games during middle school on the intercom? Did you watch Lou Brock run wild against the 1967 Sox and see Jim Lonborg never stand so tall, losing game 7 to the magnificent Bob Gibson? Did you have to watch the seventh game loss to the Big Red Machine after Carlton Fisk's Fair Pole shot? Did you personally smoke dope with Bill Lee (What's the big deal about drug testing...we did a lot of that in the 70s)? Do you have Bill Buckner's picture tacked onto your dart board, or a Grady Little voodoo doll? Have you ever heard of Don Buddin, Bob Tillman, or John Wyatt? Who died and made you King Fan?
The Pink Hats are simply part of the evolution of Red Sox Nation from the dark days antedating the tectonic shift of 1967 to the Apocalypse of 2004. Their loyalty and their dollars fueled the Sox' championship crowning achievement only made possible through combining Big Market royalties with smaller market smarts. The Pink Hats help the Red Sox 'overpay' for vital cogs in the machine while transitioning to accelerating player development with younger players with critical contribution at 'bargain' prices.
Pink may make you see red, but be sure that Sox ownership sees not pink, but green.