The Atlantic

Winning Ruined Boston Sports Fandom

Red Sox fans can no longer find meaning in futility—they now have to settle for mere greatness.
Source: USA Today Sports / Reuters

Before the fall of 2004, wearing a Boston Red Sox hat outside of New England elicited the sort of sympathy or solicitude more commonly extended to a lost child or a wounded fawn. Red Sox fans were objects of pity. To the extent we attracted admiration, it was for our dedication to suffering.

Wearing a Red Sox hat outside of New England today elicits looks of resentment or hostility, as if for a John Hughes villain or a hedge-fund plutocrat. Red Sox fans are objects of contumely. To the extent we attract admiration, it’s for … Well, we don’t attract admiration anymore, actually—only envy, at best.

, I want to say. For Red Sox fans above a certain age, years of humbling defeat—crushing, gutting, ripped-from-the-jaws-of-victory defeat, mostly at the hand of the Evil Empire, the Yankees—is seared into our souls: 1978 (the

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