I’m a Yankee fan. This has been said numerous times on this site. Proud of it, too. Die-hard? That may be a bit excessive, but the Yanks have been my team since I was old enough to understand the fundamentals of baseball. Coincidence that they won four World Series titles in my first five years of following baseball? Probably not, but I was young and didn’t know any better, and I’ve firmly kept my place on the bandwagon for far longer than it was cool to be a part of it. Am I as big of a fan of the Yanks as I am the Sabres or the Bills? No. Does that stop me from hating the Red Sox? Of course not.
Despite all of this, I have developed an incredible amount of respect for the Boston sports scene after a completely spontaneous trip East from my temporary residence in Albany last weekend.
Boston already was my favorite major city that I’ve visited (Yes, that includes NYC). There’s something about the cleanliness of the city that sucked me in. Throw in the fact that the city is very friendly to my demographic (the “college crowd,” if you will), and I’m hooked. But my only other trip to Boston was in March, and while I did walk around Fenway, it was nothing compared to the spectacle I saw on Saturday afternoon.
Around noon on Saturday, I began my trek to Fenway Park. To my dismay, I turned a 1.3 mile walk into a 5ish mile journey (I ended up by Copley Square and the Prudential Center, at the Eastern part of the map.) My unintended tour of Downtown Boston showed me how the entire area was behind their team. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. Seemingly every person I passed had at least one piece of Sox apparel. I hate to use an incredibly cliched statement, but it seemed as if the town was painted navy and red. Everyone just had a glow on their face. Losing wasn’t even on their mind……. everyone KNEW they were going to win. I’m having trouble putting the atmosphere around the city into words, and it’s appropriate, because you really can’t understand it unless you were there.
When I finally made my way on to Landsdowne St., I was greeted with this…
Tents. Chairs. Tables. Whiffle Ball in the street. People tossing a football. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, it was 2:45, and gametime wasn’t until 8:21. Well, as it turns out, these people were camping out, some for 58 hours, through bad weather for just a chance at a returned ticket to the day. Just a chance. This blew my mind.
You could feel the electricity. It was unlike any other sporting event that I had ever been around in my life.
I continued to circle the stadium. A stage was set up for entertainment later. An outdoor vendor had already set up, some five and a half hours before the game. Shops selling Red Sox souveniers were buzzing, and copies of a gameday paper were flying off of the shelf. The Cask N’ Flagon was packed, a line at the door. People were lined up against a barrier, just hoping to catch a glimpse of their beloved Sox as they made their way into the stadium, some waiting for hours on end.
As I began to walk away, I noticed a women handing something out. I got closer, and she handed me a sign. I looked at it, smiled, and walked off with it. I was the new, proud owner of a “Let’s Go Red Sox” sign.
Am I changing my allegiances? Of course not. But you better believe that I’m keeping that sign.
Because we all know that someday, with a rivalry this intense, I’ll need a reminder of the day I developed respect for Red Sox Nation.
(P.S. Rockies in seven.)
UPDATE: Bill Simmons nailed it with this excerpt from his Oct. 23 column.
But by all accounts, Sunday was a magical day in Boston. Because of the weather (a perfect 80 degrees) and the sports (a Game 7 combined with the Pats’ trying for 7-0), multiple readers e-mailed me just to say, “You should see it in Boston right now, everyone’s completely locked in.” I miss those mornings and afternoons before big Red Sox games, when it’s just a flood of Sox hats and T-shirts and you can see the nervous giddiness in every face. We’re all in this together. That’s the feeling you always get.