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Code Red

On Giuliani's Red Sox fandom

No, it has to do with Rudy's heresy as a Yankees fan: In hot pursuit of votes in next January's New Hampshire primary, Giuliani declared that, because of his preference for the American League, he was rooting for the Red Sox in the World Series. No doubt he will now claim credit for their sweep against the Colorado Rockies, which we giddy Sox fans will deny him.

"Traitor," shouted the New York Daily News. "Red Coat," opined the New York Post.

And members of Giuliani's target audience--New Hampshire fans of the Red Sox--were not persuaded. "True Red Sox fans (and we know many, of course) don't want Rudy Giuliani or any Yankee fan rooting for the Red Sox," wrote John DiStaso, senior political reporter for the Manchester Union Leader, as loyal a conservative paper as you'll find. "Not now, not tomorrow, not ever."

Of course, it is ungracious for a lifelong Red Sox loyalist to taunt Giuliani like this so soon after a triumph proving that if the last century belonged to his guys, this one belongs to us. But Red Sox fans are supposed to jeer followers of George Steinbrenner's evil empire--a phrase invented by the perceptive Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox president and CEO who happens to be a Hillary Clinton campaign contributor.

In fact, loyalty is a greatly underrated virtue. That's why I honestly respected Giuliani's stubborn and unwavering faithfulness to his New York Yankees, and appreciated the generous words he spoke upon Joe Torre's departure earlier this month as the Yankees' manager.

"People bring their histories to their loyalties," Fletcher argues, "which implies that the reasons for attachment to a friend, family or country"--I'd add sports team--"invariably transcend the particular characteristics of the object of loyalty." No kidding. I was a Red Sox fan in the days of Frank Malzone, Chuck Schilling and Bill Monbouquette when often the Washington Senators were the only team between us and the cellar. I loved those guys.

Yes, yes, this is way too grand. But please remember that I'm trying to persuade those people who see us sports loyalists as dangerous idiots. Mostly, I'll just be irrationally happy for the next several months. And Rudy, please go back to despising the Red Sox, as you're supposed to. In sports, an honest hatred is always better than a convenient dalliance.

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.