Peter Abraham at the Globe really hates it when people sing Sweet Caroline when the Sox are losing. It happened twice during the final homestand of the year that the Sox lost leads in the top of the 8th, and then quickly got the third out of the inning, making it somewhat awkward for the fans to immediately sing the song. But they did anyway and this really bugged Pete. In his defense, I remember other writers tweeting about it. but Abraham is still harping on it:
Pete has a point. It bugged me somewhat, and I can certainly see how it would bug him as he hears the song 81 times a year. But I think he's ultimately misguided, and here's why:
Don't know how this can be addressed, but Fenway Park has to change. It's obscene that people were dancing and singing to "Sweet Caroline" when the season was going down the toilet. Fenway Park used to be a place where fans applauded when a batter hit a ground ball to the right side to move a runner to third. Now 75 percent of the people in the joint on a given night have no idea why that's important.
Don't play "Sweet Caroline" when the team is losing. Just don't. People need to care more about the game than a song.
The current ownership group has done lots for the team, park and city. They've poured millions into Fenway, making the hundred-year-old park a pretty comfortable place to see a game. They've obviously revamped the way the team works on and off the field, and while it didn't work this year, the championships speak for themselves. As a product of their success, interest in the Sox is higher than ever before. Fans come from around the country to go to Fenway, tickets sell out in minutes if not seconds, and as the scalper market shows there's TONS of demand to see a game.
As part of this success, a lot of people are interested in the team who, believe it or not, don't watch every game, read every article and follow the ins and outs of the team like many of us do. They may watch one game a week, maybe all the games against the Yankees, and go to a few games a year. When they go, it's an event for the family. Even if they are die-hard fans, they likely bring their kids, their significant others or other friends who may not know who Lars Anderson or Jose Iglesias is, but who are there for the Fenway Experience. They want to have a few beers, sing Sweet Caroline, do the wave, and chant "Let's Go Red Sox." They may not care as much whether the team wins or loses, because really in the grand scheme of things it's Not That Important (and maybe we should take a good long look at this perspective every once in a while -- there's truth to it).
And you know what? These fans have every right to be at the park and do whatever they want. They paid their money, and its with that money that the Sox are able to not only sign free agents, but also pay the guys they want to extend.
As recently as 1998 the Red Sox only averaged 28,500 fans per game. In the good ol' days of the 70s, even just a few years after the Impossible Dream season, they were consistently below 20,000. Maybe a lot more of those people were die-hard fans, but I doubt it -- my recollection of the few games I went to during that time included a heck of a lot of people who just wanted to get drunk, or on weekend games, families. I don't think there was a stadium full of people applauding the nuanced poetry of the game. This is something die-hard fans and curmudgeons like Abraham* have convinced themselves because that's how they remember it. But when tickets were freely available and beer was cheaper wouldn't you have more people going there who just wanted to have a good time?
I don't miss empty seats or peeing into a trough, and it's definitely a good thing that parents can bring their kids without having to submit them to (as much) drunkenness, foul language, and so on. I don't personally like Sweet Caroline, but a heck of a lot of people do, and they make it possible for my favorite team to do well on the field. So let them.
Finally, this is how MLB is now across the league. It's entertainment. And attendance and revenue is at it's all-time high. This is good for the game. Fenway actually has a lot fewer annoyances than any other stadium -- there's nothing on the jumbotron begging fans to make noise, there's no YMCA blaring, no KissCam. I think the few things they do have are reasonably tasteful and respect the history of Fenway, and I have no issues.
*I find it especially odd that Abraham and others in the media harp on this when it's these casual fans who drive interest in their writing, and ultimately pay their salaries.