In case you haven’t noticed, and you probably haven’t, the Boston Red Sox are threatening to finish in the cellar and are well on their way to missing the playoffs for the third straight season. The weekend blockbuster trade that sent the good Adrian Gonzalez, the bad Carl Crawford, and the ugly Josh Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a heap of prospects will all but close the book on a horrible season that included constant infighting among the players, injured pitchers getting hammered in the clubhouse, and manager Bobby Valentine being cheerfully ineffective. The silver lining for die-hard Sox fans like me is that now that my team is terrible, they won’t be getting me to spend entire paychecks on commemorative garbage.
No team in any sport does merchandise like the Red Sox. This is a franchise that puts its players on wine-bottle labels. So in 2004, following the greatest comeback in the history of sports—no, in history period—the market for Sox crap exploded. You couldn’t walk into a hardware store, gas station, or dentist’s office in New England without being overwhelmed by the number of products that had “World Series Champions” slapped on the box. Snoopy Pez dispensers, tool belts, 1:80 scale Fleer Peterbilt tractor trailers... everything short of a new skin for my Newton was available.
Then came another championship in ’07 and with it enough commemorative glassware, board games, and decorative bunting to sink the Queen Mary. I bought all this stuff, of course. It’s one of the requirements of fandom, just like actually enjoying “Sweet Caroline.”
But this year would have been a whole other “Monstah.” This was the Sox’s 100th season, this was historic. They got their hooks in me before the season even started with a special 100th Anniversary Red Sox Nation membership pack. Sixty bucks and a collectable cap that I’ve already given away later, I was primed for a season-long shopping spree. I wanted to buy Sox Munch (peanuts, Charleston Chew, and some sort of red and blue yogurt pretzel bite), I wanted a tool belt, I wanted a Wade Boggs breast pump (don't ask why). However, thanks to what has been an atrocious season I was spared wasting another $120 on a 12-disc DVD set that included over 28 hours of footage that would go unwatched, as well as the price of what would be an infinite number of retrospective Blu-ray releases. And let’s not forget all of the god-awful books that would have been rushed into stores for the Christmas season. I can only imagine the abomination that Dan Shaughnessy was cooking up. My Kindle is running short on space anyway, due to the MAD magazine torrent I recently downloaded and I have about $4,000 wrapped up in my Canadian flag edition of the new KISS book.
So I shopped smart and picked up Vermont resident and all-around maniac Glenn Stout's Fenway 1912 for a fraction of the price of the “official” MLB history of Fenway. As any Sox fan living outside of New England can attest to, some of the more difficult things to acquire when you don’t live near your team’s hometown are commemorative food items. Given today’s gas prices, driving eight hours for a gallon of “Fenway Fudge” ice cream, delicious as it is, just isn’t a practical idea. Not that it would have stopped me, but I think that I would have lived without ever eating limited edition Old El Paso “Fenway Fajitas.” Plus, with student loan payments kicking in, and the Jordan IV “Bred” dropping on Black Friday (a must-cop, sorry purists), my money requires attention elsewhere. But I must admit there is one item that I was really, really looking forward to splurging on: a framed Curt Schilling Chapter 11 bankruptcy certificate with a 100th Anniversary pin and bronze coin from Highland Mint. Oh well, I’m sure the Sox are working on it.