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Red Sox fans are not content with patriotism

Like every other fan along Tuesday's parade route, Susan Regan screamed her lungs out when the New England Patriots cruised by flashing their Super Bowl championship trophy. She waved at quarterback hero Tom Brady as he rode by on a Duck boat. But by the end of the day, the 34-year-old Newton resident had returned to more serious business.

The Red Sox.

"For one brief moment, it was the Patriots' day," said Regan while sipping a beer at The Fours sports bar near North Station the evening after the parade. "But you know what? Now we're back to the Red Sox. Today was crazy. Today was great. But it wasn't the Sox."

The Patriots hardly could have done more to captivate New Englanders this season, running off 15 consecutive wins and returning home with their second championship in three years. But while fans proudly thumped their chests for the Patriots this week, the Red Sox's October demise at the hands of the New York Yankees was still eating at them inside.

Sox baseball caps rivaled Patriots hats at Tuesday's parade and rally, while banners and T-shirts featuring a vulgar expression about the Yankees dotted the landscape. Fans streaming out of the Super Bowl in Houston Sunday night erupted into chants of "Let's Go Red Sox, Let's Go!" Back home, one of the largest post-game celebrations in the city took place right outside Fenway Park.

"All anyone was doing was pointing at Fenway and saying: `The next one's there. The next one's there,' " said Chris McManus, 20, a Boston University junior who was among the revelers. "It's just made us more hungry."

That New Englanders remain obsessed with the Red Sox, even during this week's post-Super Bowl euphoria, comes as no surprise. The oldest of the city's four professional sports teams, the Red Sox have enticed generations of fans. Unlike the Patriots, though, the last time the Red Sox won a world championship was in 1918, an 85-year drought.

"What I think it comes down to is that nobody's grandfather went to their grave cursing the Patriots," said Michael Rutstein, publisher of Boston Baseball magazine. "The Patriots just don't go that deep into New England's psyche. No one has ever tried to write about football as a metaphor for life. You can pick up hundreds of books that do it for baseball."

The latest Red Sox disappointment came last fall, when the team was within five outs of going to the World Series, only to lose the seventh and deciding American League Championship Series game to the archrival Yankees.

For many Sox fans, even the elation over Sunday's Super Bowl victory cannot wash away the despair from last October. Something about Red Sox losses stays stubbornly with their fans.

"My partner and I were listening to sports radio today," said Mark DeVoy, 42, a Budweiser truck driver from Weymouth who attended Tuesday's parade. "I said to him: `It's funny. The Patriots won, and everything is great. But when the Red Sox lose, it just doesn't go away, does it?' "

Malden iron worker Bill Hurley, who said he has watched every Sox collapse since the 1967 Impossible Dream, agreed that nothing short of a Red Sox championship could restore his faith.

"If the Red Sox only had Vinatieri instead of Buckner or Brady instead of Grady," he lamented, taking a lunch break from installing new right field seats at ghostly quiet Fenway Park on Tuesday.

But some are seeing reasons to hope and move on. Regan, who has tickets for spring training, and many others predicted that the tremendous enthusiasm created by the Patriots will carry over into the baseball season.

With returning star players such as Nomar Garciapara and Pedro Martinez, new arrivals such as pitcher Curt Schilling, and an ownership that seems bent on beating the Yankees, some fans are starting to believe that this is the year for the Sox, too.

"The Sox are going to take a chapter from the Patriots! We're going to do it! You can take it to the bank!" cried fan Del Christman, wearing an autographed Sox game jersey, as he unfurled a Super Bowl banner at City Hall Plaza during Tuesday's celebration.

The parade even had some imagining what a Sox victory celebration would look like, with most envisioning double the 1.5 million attendance.

But with spring training almost upon us, can the Patriots' karma rub off on the Red Sox? Unfortunately, said Dave Pritchard, professor of atomic physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, momentum doesn't pass so easily between two objects, particularly if they are sports teams, no matter how much fans cheer or believe.

"Another issue to consider is whether Belichick should be the new Sox manager," he said. "But maybe I shouldn't get into that."

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