Sports

Tough time to be a fan

The last few weeks have presented an interesting case study in what it means ? and what it takes ? to be a fan. I suppose that could be said of many snapshots in time. But the events of the last two weeks have been particularly questionable.
Pick your sport, pick your poison.
Let?s start with two weeks ago, when the Yankees rolled into Fenway Park for a three-game series with the Red Sox. Yes, the high-payroll, underperforming Sox are testing the mettle of even the most diehard fans, for the third time in the last four seasons.
But that?s not what stood out during the series.
Alex Rodriguez, the scourge of Major League Baseball, was on the verge of his 660th home run, which would tie him for fourth place on the all-time list with Hall of Famer Willie Mays. That Mays could have played out his career at Fenway Park were it not for the racism of then owner Tom Yawkey is yet another sidebar to this situation.
You knew A-Rod would hit the anti-milestone home run (don’t tell the Yankees it’s a milestone) at Fenway. Where else would he? And he did, the first pinch-hit home run of his 21-season career. It was the game-winning run that Friday night. He was loudly booed every time he made a move at Fenway that weekend. And after the hometown crowd?s shock of that homer wore off, they let him have it. The boo level is always going to be at a higher decibel when these two teams get together.
A-Rod is resoundingly booed and reviled throughout baseball ? by many players and almost all fans ? for his repeated use of performance-enhancing drugs and subsequent lies and obfuscations. Meanwhile, David Ortiz is a favorite to virtually all Red Sox fans, most players, including opponents, and even fans of other teams … despite his own alleged link to PEDs.
So, while covering that series, I conducted a very small and unscientific survey of fans to see how they reconcile those two opposing dynamics. I looked for fans wearing Ortiz jerseys. Here is a sampling of some of the responses:
?I know, but not to the extent of what A-Rod (did). I think if (Ortiz) did it, if he really did it, I think he would have admitted to it. He seems a little more honest than A-Rod, I think.”
?Ortiz got kind of caught once, maybe-ish, if you want to call it that. But he?s still big, right? And I don?t mean muscular big. I mean he?s still Big Papi, you know.”
?Well, that wasn?t really proven, first off. But I don?t know, (Ortiz is) a very personable guy, really likable guy. And as of right now he?s not making crazy history numbers. But I?m sure when he does, there?s going to be people that don?t like him. But he?s such a likable guy that you can?t really hate him.”
After hitting another home run Thursday night at Tampa Bay, A-Rod stands 99 home runs behind another cheater, all-time leader Barry Bonds, with Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) between them. Two of baseball?s most reviled bookending two of its most beloved.
The next night we had the overly glorified, exceedingly hyped, ridiculously sensationalized alleged fight of the century between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Make that the woman-beating, child-threatening Mayweather, against Pacquiao, who hid a shoulder injury that virtually ensured he would lose the bout (which he did, and very likely would have even with complete health). His mega-million payday was not affected, though. If you bet on him, what would have been your (likely much smaller) payday certainly was affected.
That same weekend we had the NFL draft. The No. 1 pick was Florida State?s Jameis Winston by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — despite Winston?s sordid track record of sexual assaults and other crimes. His current claim to fame is that he has added a vile phrase to the lexicon of any lowlife who wants to denigrate women. I hope the Buccaneers have a good defense attorney on retainer because they are very likely going to need it.
Earlier this week, we learned that the family of former defenseman Steve Montador, who p

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