Saturday, April 28, 2012

Diehards vs. Pinkhats: Who's Winning?

After 2004 there was a shift. Not just on the team, but in the stands. I personally haven't been to Fenway for a game in over 10 years. My husband and I went in 2001. The Red Sox lost that day, but we stuck around to enjoy the atmosphere anyway. I had fun just being able to experience it. I know if I go to a game this year that atmosphere will be thick with fraud.

There's a war going on in Boston sports. A war with no clear winner or loser. A war that began in Fenway, but not on the field. It's carried over to social media sites such as twitter and facebook. This war makes the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry look like a thumb-wrestling match. It's a war in the stands. Between fans. Diehards vs. Pinkats. It's an epic battle with no winners, no losers and no real exit strategy.

Now before I say more I'm going to make this very clear. Fan fraud does not bother me. I don't care what you wear, what you drink, how you act, when you became a fan... you know why? I'm busy watching the game. If you decide to get up in the 8th and sing Sweet Caroline at the top of your lungs when the bullpen just gave up a 9 run lead, I don't care. If you get bored and decide to start the wave, I don't care. I don't care if you bought tickets to the game for the sole purpose of ogling Ellsbury and Pedroia. I don't understand why others care, but I just don't. I'm busy. There's a game happening here and I'm paying attention to it, not anyone else. This diehard vs pinkhat war has come to a boiling point. But why?

There are, in my opinion, three species of fans.

The Self-Styled Diehard:

Not to be confused with The Lifers. The Self-Styled Diehard's natural born enemy is The Pinkhat. They are in constant battle together to prove themselves as the "better fan". The Diehard throws out the term "Pinkhat" at anyone they please mostly to differentiate themselves from each other. The Diehard's biggest fear is being exposed for what they really are. A Pinkhat. I know it's confusing right? But here's the thing: If we didn't have Pinkhats the Diehards wouldn't exist. The Pinkhat presence brought on the Diehards. The Self-Styled Diehard wants to make it very clear exactly how diehard they are by establishing a set of rules as to what you can and can't do as a fan. Anyone who breaks from those rules is considered to be a Pinkhat. No wave. No Sweet Caroline. No wine. No cell phones. No beach balls. No pink hats. No Truck Day. No Opening Day. No Fenway on Ice. No bricks. No coffee table books. No fun whatsoever can be had at Fenway Park lest you want to be called a Pinkhat. But the dirty little secret the Diehards hold close is that they want to have as much fun as the despised Pinkhats. Self-Styled Diehards go to the game (or watch the game while tweeting) and bitch and moan about what everyone else is doing. Personally, I think they sound like a bunch of arrogant, stuck up snobs. If you want to bitch and moan then direct it towards the team. Because while you were whining about what's happening in the stands you forgot to pay attention to what's happening on the field. Self-Styled Diehards have become so obsessed with calling out Pinkhats that they forget there's a game going on. They feel that establishing themselves as "real fans" is more important. I don't get why they care so much about being known as the better fan, but I do know Self-Styled Diehards and Pinkhats alike were born from the same womb. 2004. They are the Cain and Able of Boston sports. I'll say it one more time: Without Pinkhats there would be no Diehards. How ya like them apples?

The Pinkhat:

Previously known as "bandwagoner". The definition of Pinkhat has expanded over the years to describe both male and female bandwagoners alike. If you are a female and take offense to the term, stop now. The time to take offense is over. It no longer applies to just females. It is a blanket insult used by the Self-Styled Diehards to describe anyone but themselves. The Diehards have their definition, but my definition of a Pinkhat is the following: You go to the game to be seen. You go to the game to "check in" (foursquare; facebook etc.) You haven't educated yourself in the team's history or the history of baseball as a sport. You leave the game when we're down 5 runs in the 6th. You probably think a "balk" is just a misspelled "walk". You can't name more than 2 players and probably have no idea what the batting order is. Also, and this is important, you haven't suffered. If you say 8 years of wins and losses is sufferance enough, you are wrong. A Red Sox fan was built to suffer disappointment after disappointment. I will say 8 years is enough if you've bothered to learn your shit about the team, but sadly a lot of you haven't. This is why you aren't taken seriously as fans. You see a game at Fenway as more of a frat party than a game. You line the owners' pockets by wasting money on t-shirts just to be seen wearing them. You love Jerry Remy, but you probably don't know what position he played when he was wearing a Sox uniform. Some may disagree with my definition, but if you look at what I've written above you'll see the common factor is a lack of knowledge (and suffering) of the game and the team. I urge all Pinkhats to learn their shit then they will be taken seriously.

The Lifer:

The Lifer has never known a time when they weren't a Red Sox fan. The Lifer is the honey badger of fans. They don't give a shit about anything but the game. The Lifer is an armchair coach. The Lifer knows not only the history of the team, but the history of the park and the history of baseball. The Lifer couldn't give a shit about the war between the Diehards and Pinkhats. The Lifer has one purpose. Watch the game. Many Lifers have made the conscious decision to stop attending games. Why? The Diehard vs. Pinkhat war has driven them off. They'd rather watch the game and focus than see other people strut around preening themselves. They couldn't care less if they're the better fan. Lifers don't feel the need to rank themselves. They aren't at the game to brag about being at the game. They're at the game to watch their team win or lose. They're there before the game starts and they don't leave until the game is over. The Diehards and Pinkhats buzz around like flies trying to outdo one another while the Lifer enjoys the game. The Lifer will never chant "Yankees Suck". Why? Respect for the game breeds respect for other teams which breeds respect for other players. The Lifer lives with the saying "We'll get 'em next year." because they knew the team pre-2004. The Lifer has suffered with this team for as long as they can remember. A Red Sox fan was built to suffer. Through one heartbreaking season after another, they were built to suffer. They are built to expect disappointment because they've lived through more losses than wins. The Lifer will look at this blog and not give a rats ass which category they belong in as fans. The Lifer is a baseball fan first and a Red Sox fan second.

Even though I have separated the fanbase into different species I don't think that any one is better than the other. You all bandwagoned this team at one point. Whether you were a child or adult when you hopped on board doesn't matter. Defining myself as a fan of anything is of no importance to me. What others think of me as a fan is of no importance to me. Anyone who's known me for any length of time knows I think this war is petty and self-serving. "If you don't care then why write this blog?" Honestly, I don't know. Maybe because it's annoying to try and have a real conversation about baseball when people just want to point fingers at each other. I just want to talk baseball, dude. I don't care about what's happening in the stands. I care about what's happening on the field. I don't care if you think so and so is a Pinkhat. I don't care if you're supposedly a Diehard. It's stupid. Why it matters to others, I don't understand.

I guess what I'm saying is this: Since when did anyone feel the need to prove themselves and why is this important? Since when do you have to establish the wheres, whens, whys and hows of being a fan of anything? You don't have to, so what is the fucking point? So a few "journalists" wrote some articles on their distaste for Pinkhats because they had a deadline and nothing else to write about. Do you have to follow suit? Diehards will never stop Pinkhats from invading their so-called territory. Pinkhats will never stop having fun at the park. Lifers will never start caring about the other fans. This is a losing battle and anyone taking part in it is wasting their time. Establishing your image as a fan is only important to you.

The Red Sox don't care what kind of fan you are.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Wake Me up When September Ends.

After last September's collapse and subsequent media horror show I've tried my hardest to ignore the Red Sox. This is pretty hard to do when baseball is your favorite sport and the Sox are your team. But regardless, I submerged myself in football, basketball and hockey after September because well... the Red Sox organization makes the NY Jets locker room look like a ladies tea party.

I'm not the first to say that I'm embarrassed by my own team. I won't be the last either. As a fan you don't expect much out of the team you pledge loyalty to other than a consistent effort to win. Last year was consistently inconsistent. I don't think the inconsistency can easily be solely attributed to laziness, a feeling of entitlement, or lack of heart. This team had no clear leader. I love Terry as much as the next guy, but when you lose the respect of the players on your team you lose your team. He lost control and fell into the trap of letting the inmates run the asylum. He's gone and he's not coming back. Repeat that. He's gone and he's not coming back.

Enter Bobby Valentine.

In my opinion, the hiring of Valentine was a very calculated move by the front office. He's a guy who likes the cameras, he's a guy who calls players out and he was the only guy with the sheer arrogance to think he could actually "fix" this team. Immediately he's a media target and every move he makes will be questioned, cross-examined and over-analyzed. Boston sports media is a feral dog and Bobby is their new chew toy. Are the memories of chicken and beer fading yet? That's exactly what Lucchino and Henry wanted in Valentine. A distraction. A punching bag. A new shiny toy for the fans to bat at. And it's working.

Now just like everyone else I've been pretty skeptical of Valentine, but my ice cold heart is beginning to warm to him. So he ran his mouth to the media about Youkilis... surprised? No. That's Bobby's thing. He calls guys out. We knew this. Is there any other team in the MLB right now that needs calling out more than the Red Sox? Nope. Now this may ruffle the muddy chicken's feathers because according to him, "That's not how we do things here." Well, suck it up buttercup because you're not in charge. Coaches run the team, or in our case meddling owners and computers, but still definitely not players. And as well they shouldn't. After last year I was of the mind to hire an R. Lee Ermey type to shape these maggots into men, but hey... I'm not in charge. Warming to Valentine or not, I can agree he's made mistakes. My idea of his mistakes may differ from others though.

I think his only mistake of this season so far has been apologizing for his criticism of the players. He started out apologizing to Beckett for comments he made in his analyst days. Why? I'm sure the comments were valid and likely accurate. Undermining yourself is not the best way to start taking charge. Now questioning Youkilis' commitment to the media rather than the man was not the smartest move, but let's be honest. We all watch the games. We all can see that Youkilis has slowed down and his bat is lukewarm. It's too early in the season to judge accurately, but did Valentine say anything new? Nope. He just said it to the wrong people. Taking it back and apologizing for it however, was the mistake. If you are in charge of a team then be unapologetic in taking control. You are the boss. Do your job and make everyone else do theirs. If someone's feelings get hurt, then oh well. When I played ball my coach told me what I did wrong and I fixed it. I didn't question it. I just worked my ass off to fix it. My father played every sport available to him and he always taught me to never question the coach. A player's responsibility is to the team not to their pride. And coaches cannot fall into the trap of letting the inmates run the asylum.

So ask yourself this: Do I hate Bobby Valentine because he's a horrible manager or do I hate Bobby Valentine because he isn't Terry Francona? Bobby didn't get Terry fired. Terry got Terry fired. Terry Francona is gone and he is not coming back. Theo, Varitek, Wakefield, Papelbon, Lowrie, Scutaro, Pedro, Trot, Millar, Manny, Damon, Nomar and Terry Francona are all gone and they aren't coming back. 2004 is over. 2007 is over. This Red Sox team is not THAT Red Sox team. As hard as it is to let go, it's past time. I will always be a fan of the Boston Red Sox, but I will never be a blind fan. We are all armchair coaches and we all have our opinions on how a team should be run, but at the end of the game we still aren't in charge. Let Bobby Valentine finish his time in Boston. We know he's not a lifer, but have the decency to give him a chance because no matter what, he's the only guy who wants the job right now. And one last thing to remember: Getting rid of Valentine will not "fix" this team. After he is chewed up and spat out we will still be left with a team of miscreants. So I don't know about any other fans but I hope he can make a difference before he leaves town.