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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Boston Has Become the Most Successful Sports City and I May Have to Move There

There’s a wicked crazy trend in sports that has been going on lately. It has less to do with the recent uptick in the consumption of Sam Adams, clam chowder, and the noticeable dropped “R’s” on many of the words in the English language than it does with the fact that, well, the city’s teams are … winning (to quote Ricky Vaughn’s likeness). Boston has, gasp, become the center of the sporting universe. The mere mention of such a sentence has caused fans from New York to Los Angeles to swear off eating baked beans, lobsters, and steamed clams for the rest of eternity.

In the last decade, Boston has laid claim to titles in each of the four major sports with the Celtics (2008), the once-hapless Red Sox (2004, 2007), the Patriots (2001, 2003, 2004), and, this season, hockey’s Bruins. Beantown’s success is enough to drive non-New Englanders, who wouldn’t know Plymouth Rock from a Pet Rock, to announce “Ich bin ein Bostoner.”

The northeastern United States has not seen this great a ride since Paul Revere sounded the alarm to every Middlesex village and farm. For those who have been thrown for a loop by American History Perplexed from Sarah Palin (different Tea Party), Revere was warning colonials about the incoming British. Unfortunately some Minnesota Twins fans are still convinced that the midnight ride was carried out by their centerfielder, Ben Revere. However, the closest thing the AL Central has to a monarch is the Royals, and the only thing they’ve successfully colonized is the bottom of the miserable division.

Not even the famed Bostonian psychic (can also be spelled ‘psycho’), Vladimir Shpunt, could have foreseen this kind of run. Ten years. Seven titles. Four major sports. That might as well be a sports run longer than one of Old Red Auerbach’s cigars.

Residents of the Massachusetts capital have become very familiar with the Boston Pops. No, not the orchestra, but the collective sound that can be heard emanating from the player’s joints each time the Boston Celtics are warming up. Following the retirement of Shaquille O’Neal — who is of no relation to Tip O’Neill, nor is he Irish, surprisingly — the team’s collective age is now just south of Methuselah.

Of course, any old chowda head could tell you that the Celtics have won more titles than any other team in the NBA, but a dyed-in-the-wool Southie or Eastie could recite for you the team’s all-time roster, without a missing a beat, from Alaa Abdelnaby to A.J. Wynder — the latter pronounced in Bostonian lilt the same way they refer to the panes of glass that adorn a house. For crying out loud, the team is so engrained in Boston lore, even the players take on Irish personas. Witness Walter McCarty, Troy Murphy, another O’Neal by the name of Jermaine, and Patrick O’Bryant. However, their next batch of Skirts and Kidneys will likely be their first.

While many who have worn the C’s uniform have been given patron saint status by the city, with Hondo and Rondo and every Russell, Bird, Cousy, Havlicek, and McHale in between, the Messianic status has been reserved for the sometimes long-locked quarterback who is known in these parts as “Tom,” or “Tommy” for short. People in Los Angeles might be a little miffed at the apparent stolen practice of marrying supermodels, winning championships, and, oh yeah, having a football team. Apparently, though, Boston was gracious enough to send over Frank McCourt of L.A. Law fame. And forget about fashion trends. A badly eviscerated hooded sweatshirt has become Boston proper during football season. Though everyone around town regards Bill Belichick in the same vein as George Washington, pigskin fans in other locales view his curt press conferences and videotaping controversy as befitting a commander in mischief.

The city used to bank on a couple of things: the Celtics winning a championship, the Red Sox finding a way to miss out on the World Series, and the football team consistently losing while wearing uniforms red enough to evoke images of General Charles Cornwallis. Nowadays, there are adolescents walking around the Boston Commons who have lived through two World Series and exactly zero Billy Martin firings. The Red Sox have done so well in recent years that the Curse of the Bambino left town and decided to move into a motel in Cleveland, where the effects would be better appreciated. At this rate, a guy like Sam Malone runs the risk of being marginalized. Big Papi, ‘Tek, and self-proclaimed “Idiot” Johnny Damon may have elbowed Woody and Norm down a couple of stools after their curse-breaking exploits.

Even long-suffering Bruins fans have the ability to exult after winning the Stanley Cup in 2011 to complete Boston’s bombabstic brilliance. Still, despite their six Stanley Cup titles and legends like Bobby Orr and Ray Borque, the coldest thing that currently could be found on Boston’s totem pole is Robert Frost.

Fans up and down the Cape continue to exult over the triumphs of their sports teams in words only a New Englander can understand. If this whole winning thing continues, I may have to pick up my West Coast stakes, and head ova theah, pahk the cah at Hahvad Yahd, grab a grinda, and join the pahty. Then, I might found out the true meaning of being a true Boston native and, subsequently, what it feels like to be disowned.

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