I want to take you on a stroll down memory lane to remember a time when being a Red Sox fan was a curse. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
The best being that you could buy a ticket for a game at Fenway an hour before the game started, and the worst was that Boston would probably lose the game, which made for a long ride home on the Green Line.
Outside of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the New England states, you wouldn't find many hats with that friendly red "B". Sure, they'd show up sporadically in northeastern New York, and maybe a few were present above Hartford in the Nutmeg State.
But the "B" was largely a badge of honor, and while I still wear it as such, it doesn't have the same appeal that it once had.
Growing up, I could be sure of two things: that I'd dislike all things New York, and that the Sox would blow it in the ninth inning on the cusp of glory.
But today's Red Sox aren't those lovable losers. The days of that Beantown are gone, even though it was a mere five years ago.
And while the old-school supporters are still around, there's a new breed of Boston fan out there, despised by all, even by fans wearing the same logo on their hat.
And I use the term "fan" loosely. Ten years ago, anyone wearing the "B" could name every single player on the Sox roster, not just the "Rocket" and Mo Vaughn. I mean, John Valentin was a household name!
And not only that, but that fan could also name the entire Yankees roster...after all, the first rule of war is to "know thine enemy".
But the Sox bandwagon, just like Fenway Park itself, has added more seats, and a once proud and respected group is grouped with this emergent "Red Sox Nation," which extends beyond the boundaries of New England (and Fort Myers, for that matter).
The informed, die-hard Sox fan (he or she who still has their Tim Naehring jersey) is now seen on a national level as pompous and disrespectful, and it's all thanks to Boston "fans" who suddenly appeared out of the woodwork after the 2004 World Series.
It still amazes me that there are Red Sox "fans" who haven't ever visited Fenway Park; heck, there are "fans" on the West Coast who haven't ever set foot in Boston. They simply chose a convenient time to start liking the Sox: The '04 ALCS was on TV and they just couldn't pull for the Yankees.
Believe it or not, there are members of Red Sox Nation who don't know about Aaron Boone, Bucky Dent, Fisk vs. Munson, or the man that was "Teddy Ballgame." I have no interest cheering alongside people like this, those who have their "Red Sox Nation" membership card in their wallet and a pink Sox cap on their girlfriend.
It's people like that who have never heard of "Nuf Said" McGreevy and his Royal Rooters. They don't know Bobby Doerr or Jim Rice. They think the Green Monster has had seats on it for years. They can't tell you where Yawkey Way and Lansdowne are, and they see the Yankees as just another team.
In fact, during last year's American League Championship Series, I heard one of these "fans" claim the Rays were our divisional rival. I made sure to set him straight.
Now, please, don't call me a hater. I bleed Boston and will forever until the day I die. It's absolutely amazing the Red Sox are perennial contenders, that they're no longer the doormats they were yesteryear.
And one of the best nights of my life was October 27th, 2004. I cried that night in joy...the Red Sox had done it.
We were World Champions.
But somehow I wonder if I was crying because the concept of a Red Sox fan as I knew it was about to die. Maybe then I could sense new breed of bandwagon fans who would soon tarnish our good name and proud traditions.
My one true passion in life, the Boston Red Sox, has always been cursed. And while it used to be the "Curse of the Bambino," it's now the "Curse of the Bandwagon."
Do you remember where you were when John Valentin turned that unassisted triple play? I do.
I was in Fenway Park, along 28,000 of the faithful.