Bradford: How Red Sox became more likable than Patriots

Rob Bradford
August 07, 2018 - 12:52 pm

USA Today Sports

A year ago. A month ago. Heck, maybe even a few weeks ago. It would be an insane argument to surface.

But here we are.

The Red Sox are more likable than the Patriots.

I brought up the topic on WEEI Monday night, put up a Twitter poll and let the debate begin. Considering the kind of social media euphoria found after the Red Sox' sweep of the Yankees it seemed like as good a time as any to at least broach the subject. I fully expected, at best, a 50-50 split. Honestly, what I really anticipated were Patriots followers saying how ridiculous the idea was. But then came the calls. Then came the votes.

Not even close.

There was some predictable blowback when it came to the timing of the question. I was executing it at the height of the Red Sox' popularity, with the Patriots trudging through training camp. Fair. But my counter to that is that one year ago we could be at the exact same spot on the calendar and it would be deemed ludicrous to suggest such a thing.

Remember, that Patriots team was supposed to go undefeated and this Red Sox team's identity was that of a good team that nobody was relating to. It was relatively the same vibe that had been lingering for the majority of the past few years. 

So, what happened?

The answers open the door to a bunch of conversations.

People are walking on eggshells with this Patriots team. Those fans don't want to deal with controversies involving Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. And there is absolutely a fear -- albeit what I believe is one that is unjustified -- the Pats are on the verge of taking a turn for the worse. They are still a really good team with a great quarterback and an outstanding chance at making it to another Super Bowl. But the unknown is scaring some folks.

Think about it: When is the last time the Patriots' first preseason game had this little juice. The Pats will probably beat the Red Sox' game in Toronto ratings-wise Thursday, but the gap will be decidedly different than what we're used to.

The Red Sox?

As producer Chris Scheim pointed out Monday night, this might be the most fun Red Sox fans are having since 2004. At first, that seems hard embrace considering we have had two World Series title with two pretty popular teams. But he might have had a point. For whatever reason, these are baseball games that even fringe baseball fans are drawn to. It's the manager. It's the players. It's the winning. It's the newness of it all.

Sports fans in these parts are starting to get that same vibe the Patriots have earned over the years. If you invest your time in these Red Sox, you are going to get a pretty decent return, and in the world of a 162-game season that is a dynamic that is difficult to achieve.

It will be an interesting exercise to check back on the argument a month from now when the Patriots are in full swing and the Red Sox aren't coming off a four-game sweep of the Yankees. Still, the fact we can broach this with a team that was defined by its unlikability until recently is somewhat mind-blowing.

Welcome to the strange new world of Boston sports.

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