(Globe staff file photo)
As a Miami transplant, people back home often ask me what’s the worst part about living in Boston. They expect me to say it’s the cold. But it isn’t – not by a long shot. It’s dealing with Red Sox Nation.I view Red Sox fandom as a regional disorder – one with various, evolving symptoms – all of which can be insufferable to normal people. Allow me to explain.
Growing up, I never had anything against the Red Sox. For me, baseball meant the Florida Marlins, a team with a modest fan base, lousy stadium, and tiny payroll. Despite these shortcomings, the Marlins shocked the world in 1997 by winning the World Series – a stunning feat for a team that had entered the league only four years before.
But to Red Sox Nation, the win wasn’t stunning. It was galling. That ’97 championship? Invalid, they said; apparently, it was “bought.” A related lecture ensued – the dismissal of the Yankees’ success on financial grounds – followed by applause for Boston copying their tactics.
Finally, I was subjected to a sermon on Babe Ruth, an admonishment of Bill Buckner, and other irrational explanations behind the Red Sox’ ineptitude. All this for wearing a Marlins cap on the T!
In 2004, the year after arriving in Boston, I moved to the Fenway, where I learned there was more to being a Sox fan than illogical, incessant complaining. Jealousy, resentment, and boorishness were critical in showing your Red Sox support. What Bostonian hasn’t witnessed the classic Park Street fight – townies arguing over which train goes to Kenmore? Or attended a game when the Yankees are on the field but it’s WrestleMania in the stands?
Even years later, after enjoying a pair of championships, the knucklehead parade at Fenway Park continues. Bloated by success, fans remain unsatisfied. The hypocrisy of years past has morphed into hypercriticism, and the vibe at Fenway, while admittedly different, is no less obnoxious. “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” the official anthem of Bostonian idiocy, continues to blare 81 days a year at home games.
Having said all of this, you might ask: Why on earth would I live in the Fenway?
Because while Fenway Park is the neighborhood icon, it’s far from its definition. Few people realize how vibrant and diverse the Fenway is beyond Yawkey Way.
It’s a neighborhood brimming with shops, restaurants, and museums; a place where you can attend a symphony or a rock show on any given night. With tree-lined streets and a boundary hugging the Back Bay Fens, it’s a green and tranquil place most of the year. And if you need to get away, its centrality can’t be beat.
Yet most don’t flee when the Sox are in town. On the contrary, folks in the Fenway dig deeper into what’s already there. And thanks to a string of development over the past few years, there’s been more and more to dig into – coffee shops, boutiques, and even new parks.
Step away from Lansdowne Street and you’ll find Fenway residents treasure their neighborhood far beyond the ballpark. It’s a living, breathing community, and one whose residents cope with the madness by enjoying all the amenities at their doorstep.
And if anyone ever asks them which train to take to Fenway, you can be sure they’ll smile and say: “the E.”
Luis Oscar Cardona is a resident of the Fenway. The Globe welcomes submissions about the pros and cons of your Boston neighborhood. Click here to learn more.