Red Sox Fans Adjust to Life Without Curse Now that they've won the World Series a second time, Red Sox fans are getting used to a new reality, and for the first time it doesn't include a curse. The hardened underdogs who were once so used to losing now have to deal with success — and fair-weather fans.
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Red Sox Fans Adjust to Life Without Curse

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Red Sox Fans Adjust to Life Without Curse

Red Sox Fans Adjust to Life Without Curse

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

The Red Sox returned to Boston this afternoon to a champion's welcome after winning the World Series last night in Denver. It's their second win in four years after an 86-year long drought.

NPR's Tovia Smith reports the Red Sox turn of fortune is exposing a bit of a generation gap among fans.

TOVIA SMITH: The Red Sox victory may have been a little less extraordinary this year than it was in 2004, but for fans, it was no less sweet.

Unidentified Group: Bobby, Bobby, Bobby...

SMITH: Players returning to Boston today were swarmed by throngs of adoring fans. But this year's win is different.

Just listen to Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell speaking after the game.

Mr. MIKE LOWELL (Third Baseman, Boston Red Sox): I think with the Red Sox, people expect you to win. And I think to come through what everyone thinks if you don't win a championship, it's a disappointment...

SMITH: I'm sorry. The Red Sox, expected to win? For 40 something's who grew up tormented by the Curse of the Bambino, it's still hard to grasp. This ball club that was famous for defeat now has fans talking about dynasty. They may have been stunned by the win in 2004, but this year...

Mr. JUSTIN WALKER (Boston Red Sox Fan): No. I know that was going to happen. They're the greatest team ever.

SMITH: You kind of can't fault a 13-year-old like Justin Walker for his sense of entitlement. He grew up watching, not only two Red Sox World Series victories in his short life, but also three Patriots Super Bowl wins. To kids his age, it's just the natural order of things that Boston would come out on top.

Unidentified Man #1: So just that one?

Mr. PETER FIDEL(ph) (Boston Red Sox Fan): Yeah.

Unidentified Man #1: It's $40.

SMITH: Among those lined up to buy official World Series championship shirts at Fenway Park today were 48-year-old Peter Fidel and his 14-year-old daughter, Sarah(ph). She says here dad offered her an American League championship shirt last week, but she passed.

Ms. SARAH FIDEL (Boston Red Sox Fan): Just kind of, you know, holding out, hoping that maybe, you know, instead, we can buy the World Series champion T-shirts and everything.

SMITH: That's a pretty confident little Red Sox fan to say, no, you know, keep your American League T-shirt. I am going to wait for the World Series.

Ms. FIDEL: Yup.

Mr. FIDEL: She's very confident.

SMITH: Different than you're growing up.

Mr. FIDEL: That's for sure. We would've taken the T-shirt back then.

SMITH: It's a growing generational divide in Red Sox nation. Sportswriters are already tossing around terms like nouveau nation, referring to those who root for the Sox now that it's easy to root for the Sox, unlike the old guard who suffered decades of disappointment and whose faith was challenged year after year.

Mr. DARREL FORD(ph) (Boston Red Sox Fan): Oh, it's brutal. Back then, there was nobody in the stands. It was terrible. It used to kind of weight of up season to get over. Thank God, you know?

SMITH: Forty-nine-year-old Darrel Ford says this generation has been spoiled by their good fortune, including his own daughter.

Mr. FORD: I go, you don't understand what you're watching right now because I, you know - I said, you don't understand. This may never happen again. We've been waiting so long for this.

SMITH: But it may be about as hard to change that generation's expectations as it is to change the jaded old-timers. Fifty-eight-year-old Donna Merrick(ph) says even with the Sox up three games to none and ahead in the ninth, she still sweat at last night's game to the very end. Kids may know the Red Sox as clutch, but she still half expects them to choke.

Ms. DONNA MERRICK (Boston Red Sox Fan): Through the whole World Series, I'm going, something doesn't feel right. And we feel, we don't care how great we are. Something bad is going to happen.

SMITH: Ultimately, it's what makes some of the older fans not worry so much about their kids growing up spoiled. As one Sox fan put it, I feel horrible saying it, but I'm sure the Red Sox will set them straight eventually.

Tovia Smith, NPR News, Boston.

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