Red Sox Nation jumps the shark

For a few years, baseball fans have tolerated Red Sox Nation, and why not? This group, while a little obsessive in certain aspects of their fandom, had suffered years of mismanagement and bad luck until the 2004 World Series.

With the Red Sox improbable comeback in the ALCS and subsequent steamrolling of St. Louis, Red Sox fans could finally bask in the glory of a World Series victory, something they had not seen since the end of the Great War. After that, thought, it was all downhill for the Nation.

First, MLB.com decided that citizens of Red Sox Nation needed an official card. It was bad enough that these fans often acted as though they, and not the players on the field, had won the World Series; now they had their own cards too. Slowly, the Red Sox were catching up to the Yankees. They’re the second most popular team in the Majors and second most despised as well. It’s funny how winning a World Championship can change an empathetic fan into a hater in the blink of an eye.

But the Nation persisted well into 2005. No longer bemoaning the Red Sox’s string of bad luck, this group decided that they were now entitled to everything. Red Sox blogs created unrealistic master plans for trades, free agent signings, winning. These fans wanted to do everything to beat the Yankees even if it meant becoming the Yankees by outspending every other team and gobbling up high-priced free agents at ludicrous salaries.

Yet, no one had made that fateful leap over the shark. At least, not until this week. Jumping the shark, a term popularized by Jon Hein, refers to, as the ever-reliable Wikipedia says, when a pop culture group “is in retrospect judged to have passed its ‘peak’ and shows a noticeable decline in quality, or when it has undergone too many changes that take away the original charm and interest.” Red Sox Nation managed to jump the shark in one felt swoop with a new Web site: KeepManny.com.

This Web site, operated by Red Sox Nation member Jeffery M. Guinee, is an attempt to collect signatures from fans urging the Red Sox to retain the services of Manny Ramirez. Red Sox Nation has jumped the shark.

In my opinion, this site transcends fandom and reeks of, well, a cry for attention. What can Red Sox Nation do this time to garner media attention? No Cowboy Up this year; no 3-0 comeback. They have to do something to stay news. So the site urges the Red Sox to keep Manny. “Don’t trade him, please! I’ll even name my firstborn after him,” says one signer of the petition.

Of course, the site doesn’t seem to care that Manny’s the one who wants out of Boston, that he’s the one unhappy that he can’t go any privacy. No one from Boston has ever said the team is keen on trading him. Larry Lucchino and the four-headed GM monster know that it’s impossible to replace one of the game’s greatest hitters who owns a career line of .314/.409/.599. But this site acts as though it is the front office, so vilified for the dealings with Theo Epstein earlier this fall, that wants to send Manny off to Shea or Anaheim.

The Manny Situation has long been public knowledge. And this site seems to be just another in the long line of people looking to knock Larry Lucchino down a peg. It’s also the moment, for me, when Red Sox Nation lost that original charm, showed a noticeable decline in quality, and underwent just one too many changes for its own good. It’s no longer about being obsessed and slightly crazed fans who root for a team that likes to play ball the right well. Now it’s about the media attention, the official citizenship cards, and showing that true red Red Sox spirit. Red Sox Nation has jumped the shark.

(As a closing note, some of my good friends and co-bloggers among the many voices of the Internet are very rational Red Sox fans. I still respect you all as fans, and I don’t associate the shenanigans of the card-carrying RSN fans who have hopped on the bandwagon with those I know to be true members of the Fenway Faithful.)

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5 Responses to “Red Sox Nation jumps the shark”


  1. 1 Dave Metz December 1, 2005 at 9:05 am

    Oh Benjamin, let them have their fun. I was talking with Jon briefly about this last night, and I don’t think it’s a plea to Red Sox management in particular. I haven’t gone there, but Jon gave me it was a plea to the media to stop maligning Manny for his lax style of play. It’s sort of like stating: “We don’t care what the media thinks of him, we know he can beat the crap out of the ball and that’s all that matters.”

    Truthfully, however, I think it’s pretty ridiculous to start a KeepManny.com

  2. 2 Seth December 12, 2005 at 9:42 pm

    Ben,

    First off, let me tell you what Red Sox Nation means to me. Red Sox Nation is a term used to define the massive amount of Red Sox fans that are spread all over this good Earth. Red Sox Nation, to me, is going to Camden Yards and hearing more Sox fans than O’s fans. Red Sox Nation, to me, is meeting a girl in an airport in England who has a Sox cap on (she’s from Ireland but she’s a huge Sox fan.) Those kinds of things are what being part of Red Sox Nation is all about. Maybe you can’t understand that unless you are a part of it.

    Now, I don’t know you so I can’t say what kind of fan you are. But I’ll tell you, as a life-long Sox fan, I too am disgusted by the Official Red Sox Nation Card. It seems like a ploy (by the new organization) to get a couple of bucks out of some kids. Also, I don’t like the commercialization of the Red Sox that’s going on as we speak. The last thing I wanted to see when we (finally) won our World Series was Drew Barrymore and the Yankee Lovin’ SNL guy run out on to the field. It was disgusting. Plus, I don’t like the fact that we pay the highest ticket prices in all of baseball. Yes, Red Sox Nation has some problems, but one problem we DON’T have is getting media attention. I highly doubt Sox fans are running around trying to grab “attention.” We just want our team to play hard, beat the Yankees, and win another World Series. That’s it, that’s all.

    So, I don’t see the problem in making a web site to keep one of “our” favorite players, especially one who many consider to be one of the best hitters in the last 40 years. Why is this so troubling to you? My mother told me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all … or did you just run out of things to blog about?

    Seth Granberg

  3. 3 Prakath V. Naor December 21, 2005 at 7:39 am

    Really, for myself I say it is not FAIR to take the card as evidence of shark-jumping. My children, if they actually rooted for a team capable of winning a World Series, would love to have cards for that team. Until then, I say “Go Mariners!” True, it will be a long wait. True, it will be worth it.

  4. 4 soxlover Robin February 5, 2006 at 11:15 pm

    Ben
    Im really glad I found this site
    I know this is an old post but I am a huge red sox fan,I dont have an official card and I dont think you need one to show how much you love the team.I have to admit I did sign the keepmanny.com I knew it was his idea to be traded but what can I say a moment of weakness and my love for watching manny smash those baseballs.Ive had my fingers crossed this whole off season hoping the sox cant deal him.
    I used to go on the boston herald blog but it was closed down and all the other blogs were way outdated I wanted a blog where I could come home from work and catch up with other people who knows more than I do about the happenings.Maybe this is a stupid thing to say but I couldnt wait to see fever pitch only because of the red sox.I am wondering if you guys have yankees fans in here also I was checking out other blogs last night and was very offended by some of the posts by yankees fans. I dont understand maybe you could help they have there own blogs why come to the red soxs blogs,besides to irritate the sox fans which I think they do very well,but some of the things they say is down right vulger.Do you know a site where sox fans can chat I would love that?!Cant wait the season starts aww heck spring traiin will do for now!!!

  5. 5 Benjamin Kabak February 5, 2006 at 11:20 pm

    Robin: You should certainly check out Sons of Sam Horn. It is THE place on the Internet for Red Sox fans. In fact, Curt Schilling has been known to be a vocal contributor to the site as well.


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