So this is what it must have felt all those years in places like Tampa Bay and Baltimore, when the Red Sox and their fans rode into town like a cleated band of Hell’s Angels hopped up on steroids. They took over your home. They kicked your tail. Then they spit in your face and left you to clean up the mess.
And, apparently, everybody is now OK with this.
One night after slapping around the Yankees in an 8-5 decision at New York, the uninspiring Red Sox came back to Fenway Park last night and returned to form in a 2-0 loss … to the Chicago Cubs. That’s right. The Cubs. Right-hander Jake Arrieta, whom the Sox had historically treated like an oversized pinata, took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before a Stephen Drew single broke up the bid and earned Arrieta a rather boisterous, standing ovation from the crowd at Fenway Park.
Following the game, Cubs manager Rick Renteria called the scene “awesome” and Arrieta said he had “goose bumps’’ while Cubs players marveled at the appreciation shown by gracious Red Sox fans.
Only there was one problem. Those weren’t all Red Sox fans. Many of those in attendance wore Cubs hats, jerseys, and colors. Those that didn’t seemingly acquiesced as quickly as Sox batters did to the right-handed Arrieta.
Yes, Arrieta pitched well. He’s having a good year. But you’re missing the point. When, exactly, did Fenway become a domestic version of Olympic Stadium, a ballpark the Sox last overran in 2001? In subsequent years, the Sox and their fans invaded places like Camden Yards and Tropicana Field to the point of obnoxiousness. Boarding a Red Sox flight to any of those destinations was like traveling on a vessel with a band of drunken, marauding pirates.
But not now. Not anymore. Satiated by the improbable 2013 World Series title, Sox fans seem content to write off this season as a bridge year while pathetic franchises like the Cubs come dancing through Fenway. Prior to last night, Arrieta had been 0-3 with a 5.90 ERA against the Red Sox. That was before he faced a Sox team and fan base that brought impotence to entirely new levels.
Don’t look now, folks, but the Red Sox are last in the American League in runs scored, behind such traditionally inept offenses like Tampa Bay, Houston, Seattle, and Minnesota. Of course, the Cubs are among the four teams in all of baseball who to have scored fewer runs than Boston. All of it cannot help but make one wonder how and why the fight drained from Fenway so quickly, the Cubs and their fans invading Fenway last night without so much as wiping their feet at the door.
And as the Chicagoans departed, incredibly enough, Red Sox fans cheered them.