To pretend things aren’t terrible now for the Red Sox and their fans is disingenuous. I know this. I know how genuinely awful things are right now. You don’t hear 20,000 people booing a guy who helped them win a World Series when things are going well. Last night was definitely a low point for the Red Sox and their fans.
So why am I not among the teeth gnashers? Why did I wake up this morning excited that there’s a game tonight instead of dreading putting on NESN at 7pm? I’ve gone through too much in my life to be a glutton for punishment. As a matter of fact, I mentioned on Twitter that I’d probably be doing a massive dump of all the people I follow who insist on doing nothing but trashing the team (an unfollow list which, interestingly, will most likely include more sports writers than fans but last night the fans were giving the writers a run for their money) because I go to Twitter to be entertained (and get information) not to be annoyed by people. There is no doubt this team is annoying right now so why am I not writing them off the way I am irritating Twitterers?
Because I love them, warts and all. I love this team. I was born to love this team and around my seventh summer I took them on as my own. (There was no way I wasn’t going to be a Red Sox fan given what big fans my parents have always been, but I was about seven when it hit me that I wasn’t just a fan because my parents were, I was a fan because I wanted to be a fan.) You don’t dedicate a good chunk of your life to writing about a team and discussing a team in other forums, because you don’t care. Heck, when I started this blog almost seven years ago I had a full-time job and a lot of other extra-curricular activities in my life and I still find a LOT of time to follow, discuss and write about the Red Sox. It isn’t something, obviously, that I take lightly.
So when people who claim to be fans start wishing bad things on the team they’re following, it confuses (and, honestly, angers) me. I’m sure there is probably a 99.9% chance that Josh Beckett and I would absolutely not get along if we knew each other, but when he took that mound last night I wanted him to win. Hell, I wanted him to throw a no-hitter just to shut up the throngs complaining that he dared go golfing on his off day…and because it would, you know, mean the Red Sox won.
An aside about the golf thing. While I get that there are people who think if Josh was hurt golfing could aggravate that, I also remember that the story wasn’t that he was hurt it was that he was sore. If he wants to go golfing on his off-day and he thinks that’ll help him relax and, hey, maybe not be so sore, I don’t care. Could not care less. When he said last night that what he does on his off day is his business, I have to agree with…to a point. If, in fact, he is hurt I’m not a fan of him going out and doing things that could aggravate the injury. But I don’t think he was hurt so, again, I couldn’t care less.
Since I’ve digressed, I’ll say one other thing about Beckett. People are complaining that in Sunday’s 17-inning game he didn’t come out and offer to pitch. Really? We’re so desperate to paint him as some evil person that we’re complaining that in a game in May one of the starters, before yesterday probably the best starter the team has so far, didn’t come out and pitch in a game he wasn’t scheduled to pitch in? To me this is the ultimate proof that many fans, like the media, are just looking for ways to dislike this team.
Which is, again, where my confusion comes in. Why are fans looking for reasons to not like this team? I keep reading that this team is “unlikeable”. Why, because they’re losing? Dustin Pedroia is unlikeable? David Ortiz? Jarrod Saltalamacchia? Hell, someone tell me what is so unlikeable about Adrian Gonzalez (no one asked you Eric Wilbur, Gerry Callahan or Michael Felger)? I seem to be one of the only people in Red Sox Nation who doesn’t fawn over Jon Lester…has he suddenly become unlikeable to the rest of the fan base because he only has one win on the season? Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves were fan favorites last year and they’re the same guys this year yet now people find them unlikeable? I could go down the entire 25-man roster and ask the same question of each player…what makes them so unlikeable this year compared to years past? Josh Beckett is the exact same person and player that he’s been for his entire time with the Red Sox (and beyond)…to suddenly decide you think he’s an ass, well, it’s ridiculous. Josh Beckett was always a bit of an ass; folks just ignored it because the team was performing well.
Welcome to the way the majority of MLB’s fan base feels, people. Sometimes your team is going to underperform and disappoint you. It happens to everyone. There is nothing special about what we as fans are going through.
Ask the Kansas City Royals fans. From 1976 to 1985 they were sitting pretty. Their team won six division titles, two pennants and a World Series. Whitey Herzog and Dick Howser were their managers and they had George Brett, Bret Saberhagen, Bud Black, Frank White…the Royals fans were in heaven. Where are they now?
Now they support a team that, currently, has the same amount of losses as the Red Sox (and one less win). The only thing is, this isn’t some anomaly that they are looking to find the reasons it’s happening. This is the life of a Royals fan in the 2000s. Their team hasn’t sniffed the playoffs since they won the World Series in 1985. Almost 27 years ago. And what do the Royals fans do? They show up at the games and they support their team.
You’ll tell me that the Royals don’t spend what the Red Sox do (the Royals payroll is roughly $61 million while the Red Sox are at around $146 million) and I’ll tell you salary means nothing. Hell, the first place Tampa Bay Rays spent $65 million on salary this year and they’re tied for first with the $80 million Baltimore Orioles. Spending money gets you expensive talent but it doesn’t always guarantee success. Weird things happen all the time in baseball. Sometimes the rookies who make fractions of what the other players make do things that get you excited for the game (hello, Will Middlebrooks) and sometimes the expensive veterans who are supposed to be aces just don’t deliver (hello Messrs Beckett and Lester).
How much fun would it be to watch baseball if it was predictable? Heck, the things that happen in baseball that you’d never expect are what make it so much fun to watch. That and winning. I get that your team winning is what makes baseball fun. And your team not only losing but losing to teams you think they should beat and losing in spectacular fashion (13 and 17 inning games in the same weekend) is disheartening. But if your memory is so short that you can’t remember how great this team has made you feel over these last 10 years than I suppose my writing 1200 words about how I think fans are going overboard isn’t going to change your opinion.
As I was writing this entry, WBZ’s Dan Roche tweeted this:
Was told by a #RedSox source that Beckett felt he was fine and wanted to pitch last Sat, but team told him to take the day off.
This is something I suspected (as did many others) and I had tried to get someone to confirm since they announced Beckett wouldn’t be pitching. They needed to bring up Aaron Cook or lose him and showcasing him so they could possibly trade him made sense. Of course no one could have guessed Cook would tear up his knee and end up on the DL and someone would find out Josh Beckett went golfing and turn that into the crime of the century. See? Unpredictable!
I understand why people booed Beckett last night. Hell, BECKETT understands why people booed him last night (telling reporters that the fans booed him because they are smart and “I pitched like shit”). But Beckett got booed on Opening Day before he had thrown one pitch because people were still pissy about last season and he was their poster boy for what happened. Instead of trying to start fresh in 2012, they (the fans) brought their baggage with them from 2011. It’s no wonder the team did the same.
I want this team to do well…and I’m convinced there is plenty of time and reason for them to pick it up and get back on track. But if they don’t? If this season ends disappointingly? I’ll still be there through it all…it won’t all make me happy, that’s for sure, but if I’m not going to make an effort to try and enjoy the sport and team I love than what’s the point?