Over at Baseball Analysts, Mark Armour has written a great piece about how the perception of Red Sox fans have changed over time.
Armour looks at how the image of the tortured Red Sox fan was etched in people's minds by Dan Shaughnessy's book The Curse of the Bambino. Armour also has issues with Glenn Stout and Richard Johnson's Red Sox Century which pins most of the Red Sox failures in the 20th Century on the team's racism.
What was most unsatisfying is that neither book captures all of the fun I have had following the Red Sox. Shaughnessy presented me as living a life of agony, and Stout as wasting my time on a bunch of bigots and losers. In fact, I have enjoyed nearly every minute of it. There are plenty of things about the world that get me aggravated. Following baseball, rooting for the Red Sox, is basically a hell of a lot of fun. My memories of sitting in the stands with my grandfather, or listening to the radio at our cabin in Maine, are not marred by what might have happened in 1949. There was no wallowing.
But really, I just want to be treated like any other fan. I know faithful Indians followers, smart Pirates nuts, proud Phillies loyalists, and, yes, kind Yankees fans. My wish is that they all experience the occasional championship banner, but also that they enjoy the journey every year. But none of them, and certainly not I, can represent a Nation, or be made to pay for the sins of their team.
I've written about fans of other teams here before and it usually comes out offending someone, which is not my conscious intent.
We love to stereotype fans of other and ascribe them qualities that we think they should have because they are rooting for the wrong team. So, they have to be bad people. I know I certainly do it. And I can't say it's an admirable trait.
Perhaps next year, I'll try to be overly defensive Dodgers fan who gets upset when people tell me that all the fans here leave too early. Or that I'll stop picking on the people of St. Louis or San Francisco or San Diego. However, if you were a fan of the Wilmington Quicksteps, you're still fair game.