Remember the year 2004? I do. John Kerry ran unsuccessfully for president. Former President Reagan passed away. Shaquille O'Neal became an ex-Laker, and the Desperate Housewives were born.
Oh, and something about the Red Sox getting some trophy or something...
It was very easy, if not downright vogue, to root against the Yankees in 2004. Those who didn't contain pinstripe-laden DNA and/or the ability to alphabetically recite all Yankees with plaques in Monument Park would fume with palpable chagrin anytime a Yankee so much as drew a second-inning walk in a Spring Training split-squader.
Going to six World Series out of eight (winning four) while beating up on substantially disadvantaged opponents along the way can foster such disdain.
And that was before they got Alex Rodriguez from Texas. Back in '04, Rodriguez ranked No. 1 in MLB in LWBP (league-wide boo percentage). Barry Bonds led in boo density, courtesy of generating MLB's loudest boos—but only on the road, whereas A-Rod heard them in every park he entered, including his own.
So when the Yankees appeared poised to add yet another pennant to their extensive collection in '04, having gone up 3-0 against Boston in the ALCS, a lot of folks—including myself—could only mutter in profane disbelief: "The Yankees AGAIN?!"
Then the Red Sox miraculously won four straight games, then four more against the Cardinals in the World Series, breaking their 86-year championship drought.
Boston's cast of "Idiots," led by Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Johnny Damon, David Ortiz and others, became instant heroes in a snap—less household names than surrogate family members to any long-deprived Boston fan. If any member of the newly-minted "Red Sox Nation" were to find Kevin Millar going Goldilocks in their bed, they'd view it as an honor, rather than a burglary.
I was as happy for them as anyone. I'm a Giants fan, but I'm also a baseball fan—and the 2004 Sox's rise to glory was damn good for baseball. It spawned legions of fans nationwide and induced hordes of others out of their gopher holes. They began to sprout up everywhere, and I mean everywhere.
I went to an A's/Red Sox game at the Coliseum in 1999, a time when both clubs were roughly equal—in the standings if not in name recognition. I have no memory of who won, but I DO know it sounded like an A's home game, which wouldn't be the case in 2005.
Any radio listeners would swear the game was played at Fenway, given the deafening roars elicited by any Boston score, baserunner or out recorded.
Even though there is nothing wrong with fans of the road team grossly outnumbering fans of the home team, there is something very wrong with it. It's kind of like if John Stamos and Candace Cameron were to marry. You can't logically articulate why it's wrong. IT...JUST...IS. (Don't get the reference? Tough. I'm not here to talk about the past.)
Part Two can be read here.