The deliberate gusto and haste in which actor George Wendt executed a graceful big man swan dive from the top of the stage and onto a lonely bar stool for a liquid lunch during a network sitcom workday, captured the vibrancy and passion of the average Bostonian.
“Norm” would ceremoniously tie together his grand entrance with a self-deprecating quip and followed by a hefty gulp of ale. This was the height of the 1980’s and the apex of the Boston Celtics Larry Bird regime and the battle with the Los Angeles Lakers for supremacy in the NBA. The city’s major league baseball franchise was a mere afterthought and lost within a dialogue of conspiracy theories, curses and the reality of seven decades without a world series trophy.
While Norm successfully echoed the sentiments and pains of the fan on the NBC hit Cheers, actor Ted Danson his best to play Red Sox outcast and bar owner Sam Malone in attempting to buoy the weight of decades of frustration with frail elements of hope that baseball could one day be relevant again in New England. The duo of Norm and Sam taught audiences not to take sports too far, and be able to laugh at the end of the day. Fast forward to 2004 and the Red Sox miraculously steal the American League pennant and world series crown in dramatic fashion. Fans who were never true fans are literally coming out of the woodwork and hopping onto a jumbo jet of a bandwagon that has lost all braking ability and is a runaway derelict crashing down the mountain of humility. They are literally everywhere as the lovable loser always wins the ultimate popularity contest and their incessant chant haunts the other 29 major league ballparks with the real threat of a curse, “Let’s go Red Sox. “clap”, “clap”, “clap”, “clap”, “clap” Let’s go Red Sox.” The hysteria of the tired movement has yet to die down almost 14 years later and borders on the obnoxious.
In an incident beyond comprehension and weighted clearly with the reality of the lowest common denominator, Baltimore Oriole’s centerfielder Adam Jones received the royal treatment and home cooking from Fenway’s best and brightest Monday, as racial taunts along with a bag of peanuts were unceremoniously thrown in his direction and landed harmfully on the natural grass surface and the conscience of the nation. According to Fox Sports, Jones accused fans of yelling the n-word in his direction multiple times. The Boston Red Sox responded almost immediately and issued him a resounding public apology. Of course, the outspoken all-star made headlines last year for referring to MLB as “a white man’s game”.
As First Amendment freedoms are abundant in the public sphere, sports stadiums at all levels adhere to a certain level of restraint, decorum and respect that applies to the participants and the actual fans. Why the unacceptable taunts directed at Jones were not addressed by nearby ticket holders is a glaring indictment to the bass ackward accepted environment at Fenway and the obvious absence of culpability by responsible individuals in properly rectifying situation. The opportunity for a “teaching moment” to children within earshot of the offenders dissipated as quickly as any national love for the Red Sox back in 2004. Not even the hilarious antics of the cherished “Norm” on late night cable repeats can repair the disdain and damage caused by the perpetrators and the equally disturbing lack of response of those who should have said something. He may have had a drinking problem, but he was never a despicable excuse for an adult.
As the token swarm of Red Sox fans invade the local venue donning caps and consuming tons of beer simply boo as they begin their mind numbing chant or simply ask them to name two players from the 1980’s other than Roger Clemens or Bill Buckner.
Read the full Fox Sports story here.
VIDEO: A Fine “Normism”