I was watching that infamous sports highlight show on that other network this afternoon, and they said "Red Sox Nation. Hank steinbrenner calls it a myth, but the stats say otherwise." They went on to speak of how the Red Sox just set a record for consecutive sellouts, starting in May 2003.
OK, that's cool for them. But I say that this isn't that special, or particularly indicative of a "nation." They have a small ballpark in a populous city. They have been winning - two World Series in the span of the record, in fact. So why is it surprising?
That said, if one considers the definition of nation, simply a large group of people unified by a common ideal or cause who wouldn't be unified otherwise (my paraphrase) then they certainly do have a nation. It is important to remember that "nation" and "country" are not the same thing. Technically, "Red Sox Nation" does not mean Red Sox fans everywhere in the country...it means Red Sox fans anywhere they might happen to be, who share little in common other than being Red Sox fans. I'd say, by that definition, RSN is no myth.
Where "myth" comes into play is that RSN is not any MORE of a nation than the collective group of fans of any team. Is it bigger? Probably. But why is that? Because they have a large market and because they win. If the Padres had been winning as regularly over the last four years then Padre Nation would probably be as large. No reason to single them out, but that's the case. I didn't choose New York, Chicago, or LA because they have a split fan base with two teams in the same market.
So, for once, something that Hank Steinbrenner has said makes a little bit of sense. It isn't exactly technically correct, because RSN exists and is not some ephemeral nothing...but the spirit of his statement, that the Red Sox don't have some especially unique fan base, is true.