As a fan base, Red Sox Nation has become extremely self-entitled, and it’s been putting me off more and more as the year has gone on. Whether it’s bashing casual fans for singing Sweet Caroline or doing the wave, or criticizing players for doing anything outside of play baseball, Boston fans have reached an insufferable point where anyone without their exact point of view is an enemy. I will always love this fan base, and still truly believe it is the most knowledgeable group of fans in the country, but we need to make some changes to stay this way.
There is a minority of fans who over react to everything that happens with this team. This happens whenever a team has a run of sustained success like the Sox have had in the past decade; Boston is not alone in this regard. The problem, though, is that this minority is growing exponentially, and members of the mainstream media are joining this group as well.
I’ve been avoiding this topic all season, because I’m never one to tell someone how they should root for your favorite sports team. To each his own. However, this season is reaching an almost intolerable level of obnoxious fandom. I finally reached my tipping point when I read this post from Eric Wilbur.
The idea that we have reached a point where the ownership should feel obligated to sell their franchise is possibly the most self-centered idea I’ve ever heard from a fan base. Let me make something clear, the ownership group doesn’t owe us nearly enough to justify selling the team because we’ve had to suffer through this season. For a reminder, as of today, the Red Sox are at .500. It may not be where we’d like to be, but go ask a Kansas City fan if they’d be screaming for their owners to sell if they were in the Red Sox’s shoes.
The truth is, we’re extremely lucky to have the ownership group that we have. Boston currently has the third highest payroll in all of baseball, and have spent more than three time as much as teams like San Diego. Now, have all of the contracts they’ve signed over the years worked out? Absolutely not. However, that’s on the front office, not ownership. John Henry and company were willing to shell out the money to field a competitive team, and that’s their number one job.
Go ahead and complain about this ownership group to an Orioles fan, who has been dealing with Peter Angelos as his/her owner for almost twenty years. He/She would probably laugh in your face for about fifteen minutes before eating you like he/she was on bath salts. It seems that we’ve forgotten how much this group has done. They have brought this city two championships, after not seeing one for 86 years. It’s only taken five years to erase that from our memories.
I do understand some of the criticism this group gets. They’re not perfect. The Fenway Brick campaign is one of the most absurd merchandise campaigns I can ever remember. You know what, though? I chose to just ignore the bricks and not buy one, and amazingly I got over it! If people are actually going to buy these bricks, why would the ownership stop selling them? The crux of the arguments I’ve heard from some fans is that they should quit trying to make money because they’re pissing off the die-hards. That’s some pretty laughable logic.
And don’t even get me started on the Liverpool business, or “his shiny soccer toy,” as Wilbur refers to it. It’s amazing to me how much people are bothered by John Henry buying another sports franchise. He is a business man who has proven that he can succeed in running an athletic team. If you think that John Henry focusing all of his attention on the Red Sox would be helpful, you’re probably wrong. I’d argue that an owner like him keeping his hands off the day-to-day operations should be commended, not thrown to the wolves. We don’t even need to look far to see that owning two sports teams doesn’t hinder the teams’ performances. Over in Foxboro, Robert Kraft owns the Patriots and the Revolution. It works, though, because he’s an owner and not a General Manager.
The fact is that Red Sox fans sound like huge babies when they clamor for this ownership to sell the team. We would all love to have an owner in here like George Steinbrenner, but that’s unrealistic. As a fan base, we’re becoming more and more insufferable to fans around the league, and I totally understand it from their point of view. Ownership doesn’t owe us anything. They’ve done everything they could to field a successful baseball team, and it’s worked out. We’ve won two World Series and have been playoff contenders every year since they’ve been here. That’s an extremely difficult thing to do, no matter what type of market you play in. Just ask the Mets. I love the passion that Boston sports fans bring to the table, it’s part of what makes this the best sports city in the world. I’m begging you, though, to think before you speak. We’re beginning to sound like the whiny self-entitled high school junior who can’t believe he got a brand new Toyota instead of a Benz, and it’s very off-putting.