Among other observations, William Rhoden argues in this piece that the Boston Red Sox are at risk of replacing the New York Yankees as the baseball team the rest of America loves to hate. He's right -- I've watched this happen firsthand.
When I first moved to D.C. from Boston in 2004, it seemed that everyone was rooting for the Red Sox to beat the Yankees in that year's ALCS. It wasn't due to any love for or loyalty to the Red Sox, although some were eager to see Boston break the Curse of the Bambino. It was mostly because people hated the Yankees. The "reverse the Curse" sentiment prevailed in the World Series, but there was notably less enthusiasm for the Red Sox among D.C.'ers once New York was out of the picture.
Fast forward to 2007, and it seemed that almost everyone in the D.C. area who wasn't a Boston-area transplant was rooting for the Cleveland Indians. One cherubic fellow in a sports bar told me, "Of course I'm an Indians fan. I'm a Slovak." (I've lived in Cleveland as well, so the comment made sense to me.)
The perception was that the Red Sox are too rich, have won too many times, and have obnoxious fans who don't realize the rest of the country doesn't care about their provincial tastes. Sound familiar? When they won last night, I even heard people saying, "I hate the Red Sox."
Having said all that, I agree with Ross Douthat: What exactly are the Red Sox supposed to do? Sports teams are supposed to win. This team has made a lot of money from a loyal fan base. Sure, there are a lot of bandwagon types but there are also people who opened up their wallets at Fenway Park when the Sox were terrible. Is the ownership not supposed to put the money back into the team and try to keep building a winning, or even dominant, franchise?
I'll put it another way: Do you think Yankees fans cared what the rest of the country thought while their team was racking up wins? No. And neither will Red Sox fans.
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