Is It Time for Fenway Park to Lose Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline?
National sports radio host Shukri Wrights is calling for Fenway Park to stop playing Neil Diamond's classic "Sweet Caroline" in the middle of the eighth inning.
I'm used to national sports journalists bringing the hate to New England sports. For those of us old enough, we have just lived through the Golden Age of Boston sports. If you are a sports fan, I'm here to tell you it will never get better than the past 20 years.
I don't say this to point out the obvious. I say this to make the point that if the Red Sox were still the red headed Chucky doll of the AL East, no one would care about the songs that are played in-between innings. A wise man once said, the higher the monkey climbs, the more people talk about his behind.
Wrights did make an exception for the time that Neil Diamond appeared at Fenway to perform the song live after the Boston Marathon bombings.
"But, C'MON!?!?! Is THIS the best ya got?!?!?!" pleaded the radio host. He said he'd rather hear Dropkick Murphys' "Shipping Up to Boston" played at TD Garden (yes, he mistakenly refers to Fenway as the Garden), or better yet, just play Bon Jovi (a New Jersey band).
My take on it is that it's impossible for an outsider to make a call on this. If you aren't a Red Sox fan that rode the emotional rollercoaster of the 2004 comeback against the Yankees followed by 2007, 2013 and 2018, you just don't know.
"Sweet Caroline" represents the struggle of being one strike away in 1986. It represents Aaron "Bleeping" Boone taking Tim Wakefield deep in Game 7 after Grady Little left Pedro Martinez in too long. Don't know what I'm talking about? Didn't feel that pain? Then you don't deserve a seat at the table to talk about "Sweet Caroline."
For me, when I hear that song coming out of the Fenway Park speakers in the middle of the eighth, I remember the ups and downs of being a Red Sox fan my whole life. The despair during the low points made the high points that much sweeter when the team finally crossed the finish line in 2004.
No, leave "Sweet Caroline" alone, sir. We don't try to flex on Yankee Stadium for playing out Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York," so we don't care if outsiders don't get "Sweet Caroline."
P.S. Side note: I really do dig your hat.