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Friday, May 30, 2008

The tipping point? (5/1/08)

I hate to sound ungrateful, but signs are cropping up everywhere that Red Sox Fever might have gone a little too far for our own good (I’m presuming to speak on behalf of all Bostonians here). Over the last year or two, I hadn’t really made much of the ever-growing list of Sox sponsorships (official jeweler of the Sox, official sports drink, etc. ) but two recent newspaper articles seem to offer proof that we’ve finally gone off the deep end.

Here are the headlines: “Sox-Yankee rivalry cited in New Hampshire fatality”, and “Final reward: Loved ones’ ashes find their way into ballpark soil”. Which one is more troubling? You decide.

Item #1: A 41 year old New Hampshire woman was recently arrested after driving her car into a crowd of Red Sox fans who had begun shouting “Yankees suck!” after spotting a Yankees bumper sticker on her car. There was alcohol involved, as well as an earlier argument outside a nightclub, but the baseball jeering seemed to be the last straw that triggered her to drive her car into the cluster of fans, killing a 29 year-old man. Not much commentary is needed on this tragedy; as the lawyers say, res ipse loquitor (the thing speaks for itself).

Item#2: A few years ago, the Sox gave a local family permission to scatter their son’s ashes around home plate, as a tribute to his devotion to the team. But the Sox have had to discontinue the practice because of the high volume of similar requests they continue to get. Yet even that regulation hasn’t stopped determined family members. Lou Gorman, the Sox’s former GM, was recently quoted as saying: “Many times you go out there after a game and you’ll see ashes on the grounds. I went out there last year twice, and twice I saw it on the warning track…It’s almost like a burial ground of Red Sox Nation.” So in the minds of many, Fenway Park is holy ground, sanctified territory – it’s hard to get more devoted than that. I’m sure these diehard (!) fans wouldn’t appreciate Bill Lee’s reminder to me last summer that Fenway Park is built on reclaimed swampland, and its location has zero intrinsic magic.

And another thing: To finish off this little rant, consider another Red Sox oddity that was revealed on a stroll through Boston’s Arnold Arboretum during last week’s Mother’s Day/Lilac Sunday festivities. One of the Morris Dance troupes did a performance that included a bat-thwacking dance arrangement to the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. There’s nothing wrong, in itself, with setting a 16th century British dance performance to a 20th century American sports song, but in the context of these other absurdities, it just felt like more proof that we’ve finally reached the tipping point.This’ll sound like heresy, but maybe it’s time for the collective membership of Red Sox Nation to get a life.


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