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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Red Sox fans abandon team

A shameful obsession with winning undermines the true fan spirit

Published: October 24, 2008
Section: Sports

Last week, the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the defending champion Boston Red Sox in a dramatic 7 game ALCS. The Rays set a playoff record with 16 home runs in a series, shattering Boston’s record of 12 in the 2003 ALCS. Yet this wasn’t the big story. The Red Sox fans deserted their team.

In the first 24 innings out of 27 played in Boston, the Rays outscored Boston 27 to 5. As a result, most Red Sox fans just up and left early most of the games; when the Red Sox had an epic comeback in Game 5, many of the fans that had left early felt stupid — a fact reported by many newspapers.

Some fans were ashamed; well, what they should be ashamed of is their lack of respect for their team. The Rays were up by 7 runs in Game 5 at one point, 9 outs away from winning the series then and there. Instead of staying and applauding their team on a job well done, they chose to leave.

I went to Game 4. Here’s what I saw. Tim Wakefield had a bad outing. He left early. And what did the fans do? They booed him off the mound. Wakefield is third in Red Sox history in wins and innings pitched. He should be respected for all that he has done for this team. Instead, men like him, Mike Timlin, and Jason Varitek, men who have done so much for this Red Sox team this decade, are booed because they can’t perform at an elite level.

The Red Sox fans weren’t even into the game to begin with.

I was among several dozen people watching the pre-game show on TBS in the upper deck of right field. A camera man went in front of us and tried to get everybody to cheer and show spirit. Nobody did.

It took a minute for people to realize what he wanted, and then they did a lame cheer. You could see what the camera man thought in his expression: “you guys are pathetic.”

By the 6th inning, there were maybe 10 fans left in the entire park that appeared to be rooting for the Red Sox out loud. One tried to jinx the Rays by starting a “Let’s Go Devil Rays!” chant, because after all, the Devil Rays were bad. When chastised, he started a “Let’s Go Bruins!” chant.

Later on, TBS showed famed novelist and Red Sox fan Stephen King reading a book, showing no interest in the game.

Perhaps the fans are not to blame for their inability to show spirit or respect. It all starts with the team. In the 7th inning of Game 4, David Ortiz hit a long triple to right field. Any other runner would have made a play at the plate for an inside the park home run.

Ortiz meanwhile jogged around first and second, stopped, then walked to third. That’s not effort. How about in Game 7 when Coco Crisp was forced out at second in the 8th inning? Crisp beat the throw by a mile. However, he didn’t go for the base; he went for Jason Bartlett’s legs to take him out. If Crisp had tried to be safe instead of attempting to cause harm, Boston would have scored at least a run in that inning.

Respect is an important thing. The Red Sox fans showed none towards their own team. This postseason, it was not a question of “what have you done for us?” It was “what have you done for us today?”

That isn’t how you root for a team. That’s how you become obsessed with winning. Winning the World Series twice in 5 years isn’t good enough.

You must win every day, every year, or you haven’t won enough for the fans. The Red Sox fans last week abandoned their team. It’s a shame.