Last Sunday, I was in a minivan headed up to a haunted house in Sleepy Hollow, New York. It was a few hours before the Boston Red Sox would take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series. The Sox were up three-games-to-one in the best of seven series and I was talking with a friend about when we each hoped the Sox would clinch: Away in LA that night or home in Boston on Tuesday.
For my part, I wanted it all be over. Game 4 on Friday had gone 18 innings, essentially running the length of another game. I had stayed up until 3AM watching it and, as a result, spent Saturday as a zombie. I had things to do and I wanted to be free to do them again. So, I wanted the Sox to close it out ASAP. My friend, on the other hand, wanted it to be Tuesday, Game 6 after the teams had traveled back to Boston, so that the clinching could be at home and thus the celebrations all that much sweeter.
It was at this point in the discussion that another friend who was also in the car, a Washington fan, stopped us. He said that this was the most Boston sports fan conversation he had ever heard and that we’re the worst. And to shut up. And go away. Frankly, he was right.
Spoiled and Absurd
My sports-watching memories start in 2001 with the Patriots. I watched them win the Super Bowl that year with a last-second kick by Adam Vinatieri. Since then, the Patriots have won 5. The Red Sox have won 4. The Celtics have won 1. And the Bruins have won 1. That’s an average of a championship every year-and-a-half. And that’s absurd.
It’s also spoiled. Fans in other cities have to suffer through years of losing, just to see one team get good for a brief, glorious and exciting flash. In Boston, there’s always one team being competitive. Always. And usually more than one.
This year, all four Boston teams have a chance to be in the finals of their respective sports. For the Sox, well, they were already there, thus the writing of this article. The Patriots are looking Patriot-y, which means playoff-bound and maybe better. The Celtics? With the departure of LeBron in the East, the return of Gordon Hayward and Jason Tatum playing like a young Kobe Bryant, they stand a chance of getting to the Finals.* And the Bruins? I have no idea. I’m not paying attention but I’m sure I will when it gets towards playoff time and the Bruins are right back in it, like I know they will be. They just will be.
And all of this is great. Except that it isn’t. It’s pointless. Where as in other cities, that brief, glorious and exciting flash of goodness is something to be cherished and enjoyed because of it’s brevity, we Boston fans expect at least one team to be in a finals. And we’re disappointed when we aren’t or, if we are, when they lose. And it’s not fun; it’s work. We’re obligated to watch even though the only two outcomes are either disappointment or nodding at the TV and saying, “Uh, well, yeah”.
We, as Boston sports fans, especially those whose memory doesn’t go back past 2001, have lost our appreciation for winning. Us young Boston fans should take a year off from watching our teams be good. Instead, we should have to watch a whole season of re-runs from back, back in the day when we weren’t good.
As soon as I publish this article, I’m going to send it to my Washington friend and he’s going to say that complaining about winning so much is the only thing more Boston-sports-fan than arguing about when we want our team to clinch. And he’ll be right about that too.
This article has been written a million times, mostly after a Boston sports team has added to our million championships.
*Insert Explanation Here*
Normally, at this point in the article, there’s an attempt to explain why Boston wins so much. Maybe because it’s an engaged market, a “sports” town. Maybe it’s the size of the market: Big enough to be major but not so big that there are too many voices and making long-term plans is impossible (like it seems to be in New York City. And haters will say, ‘And New York has won 51 championships to Boston’s 38.’ But the Yankees won 30 of those in the first half of the century. Don’t DM me).
Maybe it’s a function of time: Three out of the four teams are league originals. And though the Pats weren’t there when the NFL started, they founding members of the AFL in 1959. So, that’s no spring chicken.
There’s also money, that always helps. All four teams are valued in the top 5 of their leagues, with huge operating incomes (though there is the old ‘chicken or the egg’ question there).
Also, there’s luck. For the Sox this year, the J.D. Martinez gamble paid off. As did the Price (finally). And Joe Kelly? Who thought he was going to be this good? And who would have thought, back in 2000, that skinny kid in the combine named Tom Brady would be a dynasty quarterback. Or that Tatum and Terry Rossier would pay off so quickly for the Celtics? Or maybe the people who signed or drafted them–The Ainges, the Belichicks, the Dombrowskis–did know because they have some freakish sports sixth-sense and are once-in-a-generation sports leaders and that’s actually what explains all this.
Maybe it’s all of those. Maybe it’s something else. But it keeps happening. The winning. And I feel for my Washington fan friend. It’s annoying. We’re annoying. And when my friend told us to shut up about it, all I could do was nod and smile and agree. Then go home and watch the Red Sox win yet again. And be late to work the next day.
*Where they’ll likely be murdered by the Silicon Valley Warriors.
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