The epic collapse of the Red Sox will forever be in the history books, but the 2011 season caps off a decade-long period of highs, lows and much transformation in how many remember baseball in Boston.
Every Sox fan will remember where they were when “the curse” was broken. What has happened since has almost become more disturbing than not winning a World Series in over eight decades. Dare I say, was it even worth it?
It starts with Red Sox Nation.
“Red Sox Nation” is one of the lamest, lazy and pathetic terms ever invented, but what it has become is even more disturbing. I don’t recall it being used pre-2004, so I assume the Red Sox propaganda machine (so good, Goebbels would be proud) created it. Shoved down every Sox fans throat constantly through media bombardment, the “Nation” became everything real Red Sox fans hoped would never come true.
The popularity of the “local nine” created a new atmosphere. A transformation of Club Fenway initiated, “Fans” showed up late, left early, but dared not to miss joining in the Sweet Caroline game day ritual, bellowing Diamond’s lyrics (posted on the scoreboard I might add) from Yawkey to Lansdowne.
The passionate die-hards held out as long as they could. They attempted to stand and cheer the team on in a tight spot of the game—before being ordered to sit down; they attempted to boo—before security kicked them out for rowdiness after responding to a text message complaint. Suits and pink hats swooped in, priced them out and snapped pictures with their smart phones and posted them on Facebook proving “they were there.”
NESN morphed into a 24/7 news feed of constant Sox everything, featuring embarrassing programming including a dating show, trivia games and about six different pre/post/recap shows tirelessly hammering the same material, stories and advertisements into your head.
There is a pre-game show before the pre-game show. A post-game show, followed by the post post-game show, capped by NESN Daily—to recap ONE game. A bit excessive?
Then there is Jerry Remy. Has there ever been a broadcaster turned “celebrity” so quickly? The “Rem-Dawg,” funny and entertaining at first, tossed his dignity aside to become an “icon,” leeching from the Red Sox hysteria. A restaurant, a bar, “president” of Red Sox Nation—are Gil Santos’s Bar & Grill’s popping up around town?
But to single out Remy would not be fair. The whole Sox this, Sox that, Sox everything attitude around Boston has been obscenely over the top. “America’s most beloved ball park” is now a billboard with each section’s naming rights going to the highest bidder. The turnstiles are promoted; even the grounds crew rakes are advertised, as are doubles, homers and strikeouts.
The Henry group squeezes every penny they can and then some, stripping away any pride the historic park had left. Already being exhorted with high ticket prices, Boston fans got sucked in yet again with alternate uniforms, Red Sox Nation membership cards, and now a brick memorabilia program to celebrate Fenway’s centennial costing hundreds of dollars.
The collapse on Wednesday represented so much more than losing a game to miss the playoffs. The boiling point had already been reached; on Wednesday, the pot overflowed.
The “grace period” is over. Francona is out, and more changes will be made. Change is good. It’s refreshing, it’s productive, and it’s what deep down real Boston fans know they need and were wishing for.