It really is different out here. Not unique, I’m sure, but different.
I didn’t realize until recently how much I’d missed being a sports fan in New England. Recently? Until I settled down in Fenway Park the other day and watched Wakefield handcuff the Royals. Yeah, I think that was just about exactly the time.
The thing was, the day after the game I could talk about it with just about any native New Englander at work. The Canadians, not so much, but the people who grew up here knew what had happened and who had won and why. I can strike up a conversation about why Vin Baker is the worst thing that ever happened to the Celtics with my insurance agent. We know this crap. We, as a region, care about it.
And it’s not about success. We’re not LA. We love our crappy teams more than we love our successes. Joe Thornton gets a free ride when he gets arrested because he plays well for a really bad team. The failure of the Red Sox is mythology, and for over eight decades we have come back ready to believe once again. The Patriots, on the other hand, made the error of winning a Super Bowl. That’s a recipe for controversy.
I think we just love stories about ordinary people working hard. You win the hearts of Boston fans by being ordinary. Bird, Nomah, Williams, Borque. We didn’t love the aloof Russell, although we should have. See how it goes?
Now it’s spring. The Bruins and Celtics just made their exits from the playoffs, while the Red Sox are playing strongly enough so that we can lie to ourselves a little while longer. In a few months, our hearts will be broken on the baseball diamond and we’ll be scarred from a summer of bad personnel changes on the hardwood. Fall is the brutal months of football, when almost every game is critical. Then it’ll be spring again.
Gotta love Boston.