On Sunday night, my dreams were crushed. I had truly begun to believe that my beloved Red Sox were invincible. No matter what deficit they were forced to come back from, the team from Boston could surely handle it… that is, until the Rays finally came through and proved me wrong.
After a solid two hours of sobbing, I was finally able to put a positive spin on the situation. Maybe we (we being the Red Sox, of course all good Red Sox fans consider themselves a member of the team) could finally get rid of those bandwagon fans who magically appeared after we eliminated the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. The heart-warming underdog story of Tampa Bay will most certainly grab the fandom of a multitude of fakes around the country who were previously pretending to be true to Boston.
I distinctly remember walking into high school the day after the Red Sox made it to the World Series in 2004 and running into one of my friends, who, up until the day before, had been mercilessly making fun of me for being a Boston fan in New York.
‘Erin! Fantastic news! I’m a Red Sox fan now!” he said, expecting me to burst with joy that I had finally converted him to my side. I was not quite so pleased.
Then, just as I had feared, the trend of being a Red Sox fan transcended. Suddenly, people everywhere were seen wearing Boston hats and jerseys, saying how it was ‘about time” for the Red Sox, acting as though they had gone through some kind of hardship in being a fan for the past month. These fans are now the ones who buy up the limited seats at Fenway and then proceed to get up every other inning to get more food and spend the opposite innings on their cell phones not paying any attention to the game.
I could go on and on complaining like the grumpy New England fan that my grandfather and father raised me to be, but there really is legitimacy to my claim.
Last year, the Colorado Rockies somehow made it into the World Series. Let’s just say attendance at their games left something to be desired most of the season. Then, suddenly, what happened? Attendance increased by more than 3,000 people per game this year, and they didn’t even have a winning record. Overnight, it was cool to be a Rockies fan, and no one wanted to be left out.
The Rays, too, have been subject to this unfortunate malady of ‘bandwagoning.” I don’t think I have ever noticed the noise at Tropicana Field to be louder than a soft lull before this year’s postseason. Out of nowhere, a swarm of cowbell-loving, broom-sweeping Floridians emerged. Attendance in St. Petersburg grew from 17,131 per game last year to 22,370 per game, a drastic difference from one season to the next.
Let’s be honest the Tampa Bay fans who were at Tropicana Field on Sunday night did not really care all that much about the Rays. Even in mid-September, when the Rays were tied with the Red Sox for the top spot in the AL East, pictures of the stands showed an at-best half-filled stadium, and this was with only about three weeks left in the regular season.
So, while I’m still very hurt inside that the Rays took the ALCS from us this year, there is one thing I’m not too upset about them taking from us those awful bandwagon fans.
Philbrick is a member of the class of 2009.