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Red Sox fan. Enough said.

BOSTON

Max Dougherty, an otherwise sane 28-year-old American male, has a tattoo of the Red Sox logo on his left chest and two cats named after members of the Red Sox team, and he never wears anything other than red socks.

He also once wet himself after a Red Sox win in the playoffs.

On purpose.

This was in 1999. There were 30 people at his apartment. His sister said she was so nervous she could pee her pants, and he told her that he would if the Red Sox won. Max Dougherty is a man of his word.

The front of his khakis turned dark.

The American League Championship Series now shifts up here. With the series tied at 1-1, Game 3 is this afternoon at Fenway Park. The Rays will be up against not only Papi (David Ortiz), Pedey (Dustin Pedroia) and Youk (Kevin Youkilis), but thousands of loud-mouthed rowdies like Dougherty.

Are Red Sox fans cocksure and obnoxious or passionate and devoted? Are they earnestly intense or pee-your-pants insane? Probably a bit of all of the above.

They can't help it. Their fawthahs behaved this way. Their fawthahs' fawthahs behaved this way.

By now this is part of the rhythm of this region. In October, temperatures drop, leaves turn, and the lights come on at Fenway. And now these fans expect to win.

It wasn't always this way.

For the better part of a century they were brooding and fatalistic. Some said they were cursed. They were losers is what they were. They were such spectacular losers, in fact, that America began to pity these poor people.

The Red Sox lost the World Series in 1946 in seven games.

And in '67.

And again in '75.

And again in '86.

That year, when the Red Sox were one strike away and still lost, Dougherty was a boy in Peabody, Mass., the indoctrinated son of a longtime season ticket holder, and after that blown World Series his fawthah went into his office for a couple of days and drank Cognac and smoked cigars alone. The boy and his mother cracked the door.

"Go away!"

Shut it again.

But then the Red Sox won in '04. Then they won again in '07.

"Now we're greedy," Dougherty said.

They sleep on the sidewalk behind Fenway for days just for the chance to get tickets. They have crammed into the park for almost 500 straight sellouts. They no longer brood and wail, at least not nearly so much, but they do buy Red Sox dinner plates and Red Sox champagne flutes and Red Sox shirts and caps that are not just blue and red but now also camo and tie-dye and jump-the-shark pink.

They travel the country and take over stadiums that aren't theirs. That drunk guy who last month at the Trop had to be wrestled into submission by security guards and sheriff's deputies on the top of the dugout? Red Sox fan. And proud of it.

In suburban Wellesley, Mass., there's a woman named Lynne Smith who after the '04 World Series turned her downstairs bathroom into a painted panoramic Fenway replica. On the back of the door is a huge life-size painting of David Ortiz.

"While you're using the potty," Smith said, "David's watching you."

Sometimes she talks to him.

"David, are you going to get a hit tonight?"

She was at the Trop for Games 1 and 2. She's already looked into hotel availability in Philadelphia for the World Series.

Walk around Fenway these last few days, talk to the fans, and a consensus becomes clear: They think the Trop is an atrocity. They hate the cowbells. They think the Rays could test the Red Sox. But beat them? In October? Please.

But they respect the Rays. They respect Joe Maddon and Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford. Good young team. Play hard. Play right. They respect all that.

They just don't respect you.

They think Rays fans are a bunch of fair-weather bandwagon jumpers.

Up here the night before the first game of the series, on all-sports radio station WEEI, a guy called in to say the Rays fans are "lame" and "don't deserve to have the pennant flying over that piece of crap ballpark."

By Friday night for Game 1, Dougherty, who works in a souvenir store by Fenway, was in the apartment he shares with three roommates, a fat black cat named Big Papi and a smaller, feisty gray cat named Roia, as in Pedroia. Here he has his Red Sox tie and his Red Sox backpack and his Red Sox work gloves and his three drawers and additional trash bag of Red Sox T-shirts.

Game time.

He sat stiff and focused on his couch covered with his world champs blanket and poured a Sam Adams Octoberfest into his world champs pint glass and lit a Camel cigarette with his Red Sox lighter.

On the screen was a picture of the Trop.

"God-awful," he said.

A shot of fans clanging those cowbells.

"In Boston we don't need noisemakers," he said. "In Boston our noisemakers are our throats and our hands."

The Trop got quiet late in the game.

"SITTING ON YOUR COWBELLS?!?" he yelled at the TV.

He lit another Camel.

He drank another Sam.

He turned up the volume.

Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6244.

Red Sox fan. Enough said. 10/12/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 20, 2008 5:49pm]
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