Question: Why are the Red Sox not getting the attention that they deserve this season?
Answer: Boston fans are tired
Basketball players, football players and baseball players have both seasons during which they play, and off-seasons during which they re-focus. Sports fans also have both a season during which they follow their teams intently, and an off-season during which their team do not need/deserve their full attention. (This is usually the time of year that I eat meals with my better half at a table instead of on the couch and when I am most willing to pass the remote.)
These days a ‘fan off-seasons’ in Boston is like a drug free day at the Winehouse residents: long overdue. During the past nine months so much has happened that Boston fans are starting to look like Rocky Balboa after having gone 10 rounds with Apollo Creed; they have taken one too many to the head and things are starting to get blurry. They can not possibly keep the intensity up any longer and unfortunately, the 2008 Red Sox are the victims!
Fenway Park is full of pink hats like never before, and even the most loyal Sox fans are going through the type of let-down a sports team goes through the year after a championship. (Pink hats are a term that sports talk radio uses to define non-baseball fans that go to games because it is the cool thing to do.) Fanatics have been too intense for too long and are now having trouble adjusting from playoff mode back to regular season baseball mode.
Note: Red Sox fans that are not Celtic fans have not had the same problem focusing and have remained fully entranced in baseball season because they have already taken their sports-fan vacation.
Question: Now that Boston fans have taken a few weeks off from sports, why are they having such a hard time returning?
Answer: They got used to winning
Five years ago I would have been completely enthralled by the Tampa Bay series. The season is in full swing and first place is on the line, but somehow I did not find myself needing to know what happens. I feel like me from five years ago (hardened by losing) would have kicked the ass of me from today and told me to go buy a Braves hat. (In the mid 90’s Braves fans never seemed to care about any game that was played during the regular season because they were so used to winning the division).
NESN (New England Sports Network) even felt the need to nickname an important series for the first time in recent memory: ‘Division Collision’. (And couldn’t they come up with a better name than that! My girl friend put it best: “it sounds like a math problem gone horribly wrong, and I hate math!”) Obviously NESN has noticed the lapse in intensity and is looking to end the mental vacation that a lot Sox fans have been on any way that they can.
The main problem with Division Collision (!!!) is that is being played against the no longer satanic Rays. While the Rays are a young exciting team with great pitching and good defense, they have yet to show that they can win in October and as a result do not strike fear in the hearts of Sox fans. The Yankees have EARNED the right to be hated. Tampa has not and therefore Boston fans do not feel the need to cut our “mental off-season” short. It is almost like they know we will make the playoffs, so why lose sleep over a game in July.
Question: Why lose sleep over a game in July?
Answer: July games are what make Baseball special
Chuck Klosterman explains in his book, Sex Drugs and Coco Puffs, that even though he has felt very differently toward every love interest he has ever known, he has noticed that he can describe them all in virtually the same way and that in his opinion this makes love very “cliché”. He attempts to show this by explaining that he once sent two different girls the exact same mix-tape because the messages in the songs on the tape described how he felt about both women so accurately. (He had completely different feelings for each of them.)
Likewise, after game 6 of the NBA finals I could not describe my feelings any differently then any other member of the 15000+ people in attendance. Like everyone else I felt ‘like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders’, I was ‘jumping for joy’ and I knew that I had definitely just ‘witnessed history’.
To me the NBA championship signified the end of a season long journey that the Celtics and I had taken together and (as cliché as it is) THAT is what made this title special. One day it will be the ups and downs of a stressful season that I will be telling my grandchildren about, not that one drunken day in June. People who did not follow the team for the entire season can not say that.
If we as Red Sox fans do not come back from our sports-fan vacation soon then we will not only miss out on the best part of the Sox season, (the part that separates the fans from the pink hats) but we will also miss out on the chance to feel more then just cliché emotions if/when the Sox do make a run in October.