This week the Red Sox announced a few “fan friendly” changes they were making to the Park’s operation in April. Some game times were being moved up to stay out of the coldest part of the night, and some discounts on concessions were put into effect. That has changed some of the discussion from the EEIdiots to other fan activities, specifically the singing of Sweet Caroline. It’s not the first time I’ve heard the song bad-mouthed. Usually, it’s lumped into a tirade from “real fans” about the “pink hat wearing, Sweet Caroline singing bandwagon jumpers.”
I just don’t get the angst.
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t understand some in-game entertainment, and I’m generally not a fan of many others. When I go to Fenway, I’m there to watch a game. So, I don’t need my time filled with a lot of sound effects or gimmicks. I hated it when they used to have the girl in the mini-skirt run out and sweep the bases. It was tacky, and unnecessary. I hated it when they kept playing the video of Kevin Millar singing Born in the USA as a “Rally Karaoke Guy.” It was too staged. It annoys me when other teams have dot races on the scoreboard, or president races on the field. And, there’s certainly no place for “Let’s Make Some Noise!” announcements on the jumbotron.
But, Sweet Caroline isn’t like any of those. For one thing, it’s just a song. The Sox play lots of songs during breaks in play. This is just one that is a constant addition to the playlist. The most important thing though? This isn’t something the team did on purpose as a marketing gimmick. The Sox didn’t make an announcement one day that due to an arrangement with Neil Diamond and Fenway Records, the Sox would be playing this song during the eighth inning. They didn’t flash the lyrics up there and announce that we should all sing along. They simply played the song just like they play any number of other songs. The fans just happened to get behind this one. Sure, now the Sox have adopted it as a semi-anthem. And, they show the lyrics on the scoreboard. But, it didn’t start that way. It simply started as something fans enjoy doing. Which is how any good tradition starts. Like Thanksgiving, for instance. You can try to start a tradition by announcing that at halftime of the Detroit game, everyone will go out and play five minutes of touch football. But, that’s not what makes a tradition. A tradition would be if everyone just decided to have a game. Sure, after a few years you may start doing it just because that’s the tradition. But, it didn’t start like that. The same is true for Sweet Caroline.
One of the big complaints they were making abut the song is that they do it even if the Sox are losing. So? They sing Take me out to the Ballgame when the Sox are losing. Or God Bless America. We’re not allowed to hear music when the Sox are losing? Why not? Should the fans just sit on their hands and look bored anytime the Sox are behind? What if it’s tied? Can they just play the song then, but no singing? Is there something wrong with fans working themselves into a lather before the Sox come to bat? Because, again, this is the fans doing it. There’s no announcement to stand up and sing. Is it different than fans starting a “Let’s go Sox!” chant? I don’t see how.
There are any number of things that the front office could do during the game that would annoy me. Just like the sweeping mini-skirt did.
Sweet Caroline isn’t one of them.