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It’s one thing to be a fan of a team; it’s another to be a real-life Gil Renard.
But living in the midst of what is “Red Sox Nation,” I can’t help but scoff at the similarities in fanaticism that embolden both Renard and those that take the proverbial “Nation” to the next level.
Case in point: Truck Day.
Saturday afternoon marked the annual celebration of “Truck Day,” when Red Sox clubhouse employees load up the truck with all items necessary for the upcoming month and a half of spring training. The truck gets packed front-to-back, floor-to-ceiling and then embarks on the 24 hour trip to Ft. Myers. In most cities, I am willing to bet people don’t even know when spring training starts, or even thought about the fact that equipment has to be shipped to its team’s spring training facility. They probably just assume it’s already there. But in Boston, we have turned this into an annual celebratory event. To the point where the Globe and other media outlets feel compelled to send reporters there to cover it.
In fact, Globe photographer Steve Silva blessed the general public with a 36-shot photo album. Nevermind the fact that he was even there taking photographs, how in the hell did he find 36 ways to capture the day? Should we applaud his artistic creativity? Or question his need to take pictures of the same shot from several different angles with several different people? I choose the latter.
Yet his crowning achievement, a hidden jewel, if you will, was the two shots he took of Richard Fisher and his son Braden. Most people who outside Gate D were observing Truck Day were local fans that drove from within an hour of the city or happened to be passing by.
Not the Fishers. This father/son tandem flew in from Sneedville, TN to witness the front end of the truck’s annual pilgrimage. Let’s take that in again. This father/son tandem flew in from Sneedville, TN to witness the front end of the truck’s annual pilgrimage.
Are you kidding me?
Listen if you find some sort of solace in rooting for a particular sports team, emotionally hanging on every win and loss, then hey, that’s your prerogative. Although, no motive or rationale could convince me to agree with you. But when you fly in from 882.75 miles away, I have to question a myriad of things:
1) What does your wife (sister) think of this? If she has any sense of dignity, she took the time alone to pack her bags and move back in with her mother (older sister).
2) Can your kid even name three players on the current Red Sox roster outside of Big Papi, Ramirez, Schilling, and Beckett?
3) In fact, I’ll go one step further…does he know that Big Papi is not the real name of the team’s DH? Or that “ilis” follows “Youk?” Answer me that.
4) Are you going to follow Coco Crisp into a Turkish bath and kill him because he might take away valuable innings from Jacoby Ellsbury ala Juan Primo?
5) Do you sell knives for a living?
6) Can you afford a flight home, or did you not think of that?
I’m all for a group of people rallying around a sports team because it instills a sense of community and kinship, particularly for those without much else in life. But when it leads to someone chasing Kevin Youkilis a half mile down the road in his car, fans still standing outside the players parking lot over an hour after the game, or using the term “we” when referring the team, it’s officially crossed the proverbial line.
The 1996 movie “The Fan” was an adept, clever depiction of fan “fanaticism” and how one can mistakenly live vicariously through a player, team or community without any clear sense of reality. As pitiful and derisive as Robert Deniro’s character was, he truly animated an achievable extreme. As far as I’m concerned, Gil Renard would have found true solace as an active member of “Red Sox Nation.”
So next year, let’s trust that the truck will be packed and arrive safely in Fort Myers for the start of spring training. I’m willing to bet Red Sox employees don’t need you there to make sure.
Please e-mail any questions, thoughts or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit sportsbrief.blogspot.com for more of The Brief with Keefe, Besse and Shark.