Apathy grips Hub

26Oct18

When the New England Patriots are in the playoffs, people can’t wait to hang their Patriot flags and put out their Patriot signs, banners, pennants and even display their inflated Patriots lawn ornaments. Sometimes even before the regular season ends. You can’t drive half a mile in town without seeing Patriots everywhere.

So, what are the Red Sox, chopped liver?

The Red Sox are in the World Series. They won 108 games, a franchise record. They rolled the Yankees in the American League Division Series and dispatched the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series without breaking a sweat. They’re up 2-0 in the World Series and appear to be on the cusp of their fourth World Championship this century.

But you’d have a better chance of finding Bigfoot in Breakheart or Charlie Baker at a Donald Trump rally than a Red Sox banner or lawn decoration around here.

Trump-hating New England fans can manage to overlook Tom Brady’s and Robert Kraft’s friendship with the president and still openly display their worship the Pats, but Boston Globe owner John Henry’s Red Sox can’t get arrested in this town.

Maybe we’re spoiled. The Red Sox have been pretty good for about 50 years, ever since the Impossible Dream year of 1967. Before that, not so much. Prior to that year, the Olde Towne Team had last won a pennant in 1946. They hadn’t won a World Series since 1918.

The teams of the early and mid-Sixties were particularly odious. The 1965 team lost 100 games and finished 9th in a 10-team American League.

The early 1960s Red Sox teams featured such baseball immortals as Eddie Bressoud, Lenny Green, Jim Gosger and Dick Stuart. Stuart hit 42 homers in 1963. The first-baseman also led the league in errors with 29, earning him the dual monikers, “Dr. Strangeglove” and “Stonefingers.”

People had good reason to ignore those teams, and they did. But all that changed in 1967. At some point that summer, fans realized that something was different. The team was winning. Fans had waited a long time for a good team and they got into it, big time.

Transistor radios blared the voices of Ken Coleman, Ned Martin and Mel Parnell from porches everywhere. By September, Wakefield’s Pleasure Island amusement park would suspend its usual canned background music and retransmit Red Sox games live over its public address system so patrons could follow the games.

But the Patriots have followed a similar historical path. They didn’t even exist until 1960, and even then, as a member of the laughingstock American Football League. And like the Red Sox, they’ve been winning with some regularity recently. But somehow, the overt enthusiasm shown for the Patriots eclipses public displays of affection for the Red Sox.

In recent years, polls have shown that, among professional team sports, football reigns supreme with 32 percent of Americans naming it as their favorite sport, with baseball coming in second with 23 percent. Pro basketball comes in a distant third with 6 percent and hockey is…Canadian.

People say baseball is too slow. But that’s not exactly new. It’s always had a more relaxed pace compared to football.
Meanwhile, football is under attack for being “too violent.” Fewer parents are letting their kids play youth football for fear of concussions. Despite its current popularity, that can’t bode well for football’s future.

I suspect it’s all part of a sinister foreign conspiracy to make soccer America’s Pastime.

I hope that goal is never reached, much like in most soccer games.

This column originally appeared in the October 25, 2018 Wakefield Daily Item.



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