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Category: Sports

Traitor to his city

This makes it official. 2002 was one of those years when it’s good to be a Boston sports fan. The Patriots won the Super Bowl, the Celtics resurged, the Red Sox got out from under Harrington’s thumb, and the Bruins had a great regular season. We won’t talk about the Bruins in the playoffs, though.

The early tidings for 2003 were not so great. The Celtics split up the band, half the Bruins decided not to come back, and — well, the Patriots talked a good game up until the fourth game of the season. It’s pretty clear at this point that 2003 is not gonna be stellar.

Except now it’s more than pretty clear, it’s an established fact, cause the Sports Guy — no, screw that, the Boston Sports Guy — is moving to LA. We’re fucked. The most well-spoken sports columnist in Boston is moving to LA to be a television writer.

Gonna be a long cold lonely winter.

Cousins, identical cousins

We have a new contender for goofiest team relocation move ever. ESPN reports that the Montreal Expos may move to Boston for a year. This would be great for the owners of the Red Sox, since they’d get rent from the Expos. The Expos are currently owned by Major League Baseball itself, which would love to see attendance drop so that there’d be more of an excuse to contract the Expos out of existence. The fans are not deeply important in this equation.

This would be the second time in recent history that Major League Baseball has arranged for the Expos to benefit Boston. The first was the Cliff Floyd trade, which was ludicrous from Montreal’s point of view but a big win for Boston.

I can’t imagine that Boston would suddenly take to the Expos. Not that it wouldn’t be flattering to have two baseball teams, but it would also clearly be only temporary. So who’d care? I guess I might get a lot of cheap tickets to meaningless games…

A brief guide to home field advantage

If you’re a New England sports fan, there are certain rules:

In basketball, detest the Lakers above all others. Also, cheer against Philadelphia, because they’re the only other team to pose a significant threat to the Celtics in the 80s and there was that whole Wilt Chamberlain thing as well. It’s also good to hate any team that features a player who’s been called “better than Larry Bird,” but only while that player is active. No point hating the Chicago Bulls at this point, for example.

In baseball, the Yankees are the spawn of Satan. Everything else is inconsequential, although you must always root against the Mets in retribution for 1986. If the Yankees and the Mets meet in the World Series, then you must explain that baseball is a shadow of its former self.

In football, mostly hate other AFC East teams. Miami and the Jets are the prime targets. Also, hate the Oakland Raiders, because there was some sort of disputed call a century or so ago and the Raiders won the game as a result. Any disputed calls in Raiders/Patriots games that go for the Patriots are merely karma. Karma should continue pounding the Raiders forever.

In hockey, it’s really only worth hating the Original Eight. Any other team is basically an expansion team and beneath your notice. This attitude may explain why the Bruins haven’t gotten very deep into the playoffs for a while. Hate Montreal in particular, because they don’t speak English, the freaks. Don’t bother hating Hartford anymore. It was wrong of them to invade New England, but they have since moved and you’ve forgotten what their new name is.

When trying to figure out who to hate in a playoff game that doesn’t involve a New England team, the above rules take precedence. Also, hate any team from LA on general principles. General principles involve the Lakers, whose miasma of evil infects all teams in the vicinity. Besides, LA thinks it’s such a great city. (Note that this is an additional reason to hate the Raiders — they went to LA on purpose. How dorky.)

The same sort of thing goes for New York teams, which are all infected by the Yankees. And New York thinks it’s a great city too. What do they know? It’s hard to say which city should be more hated. If the Knicks play the Lakers, cheer for the Knicks. If the Yankees play the Angels, cheer for the Angels.

Come to think of it, any city which thinks it has an edge on Boston needs some stern boos, unless it’s a cute little city, in which case treat it like your adored pet terrier. Nobody would ever mistake any city in Texas for a great city, for example, so it’s just cute when the Mavericks do well. But Chicago, there’s a city that gets too big for its britches.

This guide has been brought to you by the Major League Soccer championship game, in which (on my TiVo) the New England Revolution and the LA Galaxy are tied 0-0 with ten minutes to go in regulation. The announcers have made approximately fifty comments to the effect that the Galaxy are glamorous and the Revolution has a blue collar team-oriented approach. This is, I believe, obligatory any time you have an LA team and a New England team playing.

Love among men

Glenn McDonald says, “I’ve been asked, more than once, how I can be a music fan and a soccer fan, when there is usually, at least in this country, such a gulf between art people and sports people.” I could say the same of sports and computers. Many of my friends could care less about sports. Sports are where the jocks play, and we define ourselves as very much other than them.

This piece, from which I pulled the above quote, is what I love about sports. The object of any sport may in and of itself be pointless. Balls, goals, who cares? But I love the passion that comes with a good team, or even with a bad team that achieves more than it thought possible. It’s worth reading the last paragraph on the page even if one hates sports, just for the beauty with which he expresses that self-same emotion.

Wilder than her

Purists keep kvetching about the wild card in major league baseball. The common argument is that the wild card makes pennant races meaningless. I’m sorry, but was I somehow hallucinating when I watched the Red Sox straining to get back into the wild card hunt? Was the race between the Dodgers and the Giants somehow less interesting because it was for the wild card, not for the pennant?

In fact, the wild card increases the opportunity for meaningful races in September, because it is not limited to teams within one division. If the Yankees and the Red Sox are sparring for the pennant, there’s no way the Twins can challenge either of them for that spot. If the Red Sox and the Blue Jays are going for the wild card, the A’s may well be involved — and to me that’s more exciting than watching the A’s sit around 10 games behind Seattle with nothing meaningful to do than play spoiler.

Sure, it didn’t work out that way this year; there were no meaningful wild card chases in the last weekend of the season, and there clearly would have been a meaningful pennant race without the wild card. Let’s not, however, extrapolate endlessly from one season’s example.


About time. Paul Gaston sold the Boston Celtics today. Under the ownership of the Gaston family, the Celtics saw two championships, but since Don Gaston turned the team over to his son, it’s been very sparse times for Celtics fans.

Gaston Jr. has been more interested in keeping costs low than in winning titles. This has, not surprisingly, kept the Celtics far away from the latter. We’ll see what happens now.

Belated, but

Belated, but this is the sort of story I can’t resist. Namely, the “screw the popular wisdom, let’s be contrary” kind of a thing. I know that the Olypmic skating controversy is dead and gone, but I’m linking Joe Bob Briggs’ story on it anyway.

It’s a real story, actually, not written like the movie reviews. Wish I’d read it back then. I’d like to look at replays with his thoughts in mind. Mind you, the ISU did nail two French skating officials, so perhaps there’s not really so much of a case to be made after all.

Oh, and Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov was indicted just the other day, so there you go. (He’s the Russian mobster who conspired to fix the pairs skating results. Or so it would seem.)