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Red Sox fans seduced by Rays' success

The Earth has flipped. Magnetic poles have reversed. What flowed North flows South. What was down is up.

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Red Sox fans in Tampa Bay are rooting for the Rays.

They bray when they should boo, cheer at all the wrong times. It's involuntary, a virus. They can't face their baseball card collections, can't look Carl Yastrzemski in the eye.

It's unnatural, says Red Sox/Rays fan Darrell Dodge. "We're bipolar."

Darrell Dodge has a Red Sox banner in his front yard. Bought it after last year's World Series. Never thought about the Rays. "The Rays did not matter." He grew up in Maine. Stuck a transistor radio to his ear. He's 53 now, has lived here 25 years, but New England will always be home. He was in Atlanta Monday night, watching the Rays/Red Sox score on the ESPN ticker tape. The Rays took a lead. "I cheered. I caught myself. I said, 'What am I doing?' " By game's end it was horribly worse. He heard himself say, "I hope the Rays sweep." All Darrell can think to do is buy a new pole — long enough for two banners.

Pat Best's son in Rhode Island called him a traitor on Monday night. Pat is 58. He lives near Tropicana Field. Pat gently explained the facts of life to his son: "It's like I've had two children. The Red Sox were my baby for 38 years. They've finally graduated. They've even earned their master's. Now I have a second child to care for, my baby Rays." Pat's son listened patiently. Then he said: "You're still a traitor."

Russ Buker sat behind the Red Sox dugout when he was 8. His grandmother took him. "All of a sudden there was buzz in the crowd. Grandma cried, 'It's Teddy. It's Teddy.' " Right in front of him, the immortal Ted Williams hit a double. Russ is 60 now. He reached Red Sox Nirvana during the 2004 playoffs when Boston fought back from 0-3 to at last vanquish the Damn Yankees. Russ' quest had ended. He got himself a Rays hat. Tampa Bay's famously arrogant Sox fans helped him through the transition. "They're so obnoxious. They act like — I'd get killed for saying this in Boston — Yankee fans."

Red Sox fans seduced by Rays' success 07/01/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 4, 2008 1:26pm]

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