City of Champions – Boston Scores Again

Last night the Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks to win the right to drink beer out of The Stanley Cup.  After the clock read zero, I tweeted my congratulations.  “You gotta feel good for those long suffering Boston sports fans.”  It had been a long 29 years of hand-wringing including a “kiss your sister” celebration of Ray Bourque’s Stanley Cup in 2001 after the long-time Bruin was traded to the Avalanche to win it.  In case you feel like attacking Boston’s sports credibility, just imagine for a second that the Heat had won the Finals this year and we had a party with Zydrunas Ilgauskas.  No matter, though.  Bourque is long forgotten now that the Bruins won it all.  Talk about a Cleveland contrast.

There is a generation of Boston sports fans who will have no idea what to do with themselves if Boston sports teams don’t win it all every couple of years.  Since the millennium, it is absolutely astonishing.  The Patriots won in 2001, 2003, 2004 and nearly missed a perfect season in 2007.  The Red Sox won it in 2004 and 2007.  The Celtics won it in 2008.  And now the Bruins have won it in 2011.  So that’s seven championships across four teams in basically a decade’s time.  And beyond that, it is a ton of contention even when they didn’t win it all.

And hell yes, I am jealous.  Everyone always says, “Just give me one and I’ll be good for a really long time!”  It isn’t true though.  The minute you win one, you start to get that feeling like it’s possible every year.  It changes the entire culture of the fan base.  I saw the fan base develop for the Pats when they started winning.  That team was a third class citizen to the Red Sox and Celtics before Belichick and Tom Brady came along.  We saw the same effect with the Cavs even though they couldn’t finish the job.  Imagine if they had.

Same with the Red Sox.  Their fans were desperate to just win one.  Before the win in 2004, many Red Sox fans would have been willing to mortgage the next 20 years of baseball for just one World Series crown.  All sports fans think that way, but once you get a sniff, you wonder why you should ever settle for just one.

Bostonians don’t have to imagine what it would be like anymore.  They now know what seems like a hundred times over.  And yes, they are greedy. Yes, they expect to win.  They keep finding Wonka bars, but it only increases the thirst for chocolate.  I could write it a million ways.  There are no such things as curses.  There is no such thing as luck.  Nobody “deserves” anything in sports any more or less than anyone else.  Other than hockey unless you count the Jackets or Monsters, it is possible that it could happen in Cleveland.  Sure the opportunities will be fewer and further between in baseball, but there are no relevant disadvantages in basketball and football in terms of finances.

So yeah, damn those Boston fans and all their good fortune!  Secretly though, it gives me hope.  I was there as it was developing in the late 90’s through late 2001.  I watched it mature from back here in Cleveland.  It could happen, and it could change our sports culture for the better forever.

  • stin4u

    is hockey still a sport?

  • Craig Lyndall

    If Cleveland had a championship team playing it, you would think so. This ain’t the MLS or MISL here. :-)

  • stin4u

    Actually I’d prefer an MLS team over an NHL team. I’m sure I am in the minority though.

  • jimkanicki

    i’ve been a notable bruins honk here and on twitter and i would like to explain myself.

    i moved to BOS in 87. i actually remember thinking at the time that it would be cool to live in a town whose sports teams didnt suck. however, literally the first day there and the first time i went to a sports bar in boston (cask/flagon) was the magic johnson hook shot where the lakers beat the celts. and until 2000 i thought that my cleveland stank was being carried over to BOS.

    obviously since 2000 there has been an embarrassment of riches. believe it or not, some of the teams were quite lovable. the first brady SB over the rams was a true ‘team.’ (remember how they were intro’d as a unit in the SB?) the 04 sox had fun characters and the drama of coming back from 3 down vs the yanks was remarkable. (i cant say the celts were ever lovable… have always thought paul pierce was unworthy of the superstar tag.)

    unfortunately, with the successes the fandom became more and more insufferable. im speaking mainly of the sox fans who morphed into yankees fans only worse. the teams themselves adopted mercenary athletes (pats: dillon, moss; celts: garnett, allen; sox: everyone.).

    but the bruins were different. in spite of a built-in fan base (most kids play hockey around here), the owner didn’t attempt to win and the only sportsradio station ignored (and mocked) hawkeytawk. so my point is that the bruins winning the cup is actually something one could get behind. and if you watched this series, youd also see that the canucks play hockey like the italian national team in world cup soccer.

    as for me, i went to watch a bruins playoff game in 89 and there i met my wife. in other words, without the bruins i wouldnt have my kids! so in that vein, i request dispensation from my cleveland brethren: dont hate me for pulling for the bruins!

  • Craig Lyndall

    We don’t hate the sinner, just the sin. :-)

  • AMC

    My father’s day moved to Cleveland after World War II and was a huge Browns fan, he wasn’t a big baseball guy, but growing up would take my dad to Indians games and it didn’t take long for my father to become a fan of all the Cleveland teams, something that was passed down to me.

    My grandfather was from Boston.

    I’m not going to lie, there are times when I wish he had stayed true to his Boston roots instead of adopting the Browns and passing on Cleveland rooting interests to my dad. It would have made my fandom a lot sweeter.

  • Garry Owen

    As jimkanicki said, I’d now much rather be around the subdued arrogance of the Yankees fan than the completely insufferable arrogance and ignorance of the Red Sox fan (not that I’ve ever met an ACTUAL Red Sox fan, mind you).

    I was at the Jake last year when the Yankees destroyed the Tribe. The most annoying thing about the Yankess fans there was simply the sheer number of them (vastly outnumbering us Wahoos at by the end of the game). But even in the thousands, they don’t compare with 2 Red Sox fans in the same building, in sheer nails-on-chalkboard annoyance factor.

    What will become of us when we win, and all of those “fans” re-convert?

  • mgbode

    @Garry – my mom and her side of the family is from New Hampshire and are Red Sox fans (real ones since they grew up there). let me tell you one thing; they were insufferable BEFORE they won the WS and are worse now :)

  • 5KMD

    “We still have fans that remember – barely – ’72,” said team president Cam Neely, a British Columbia native who played three seasons for the Canucks before going to the Bruins in 1986 and becoming a Boston legend. “And then from ’72 on, they’ve been waiting for this moment to happen.”

    That’s the definition of a drought in Boston.

  • 5KMD

    Also, can anyone else help me convince the people of pittsburgh ( I live her now) that Boston is the city of champions.

    For some reason they still claim it here even though they don’t even have a fourth team. It’s rediculous.

  • Boomhauertjs

    As long as the Dolans and Lerner own the teams, it’s not very likely here…

  • NJ

    If I don’t have a horse in the race, I cheer for original six teams. And the Bruins have had bad ownership so there’s no shame in being happy for them.

    Not to mention, I’ll take insufferable American sports fans over insufferable Canadian sports fans every day.

    Jim makes a great point – Boston fans/teams were actually a sympathetic bunch entering the new millenium. What happened?

  • Andrew

    a) This is a great article, Craig. Very well written.

    b) I agree with Jim’s point about the Bruins being different. He explained it so much better than I could, but the Bruins have always felt different to me from the other Boston teams that I hate so much. I have always respected Bruins fans and yes, I tend to appreciate Original 6 teams not named Chicago Blackhawks (I’m a Wings fan, what do you expect?). I wanted to see Vancouver win, though, because I wanted Kesler to win. Having seen the subsequent riots in Vancouver, however, has made me very glad that Boston won.

  • EZ

    ^^Agree with Andrew.

    After seeing what Vancouver did I don’t think the Canuck fans deserved a championship.

    (This coming from someone who was at Ohio State during the riot after a won Michigan game. That was also disturbing, though smaller in scale.)

  • B-bo

    I was absolutely pulling for Vancouver in this one, in the hopes of avoiding the birth of yet another Boston sports bandwagon full of insufferable “fans”–how long until the pink Bruins hats are ready for sale?. Respect to the die hard fans, but enough is enough for that town. And living in Tampa, which is essentially Boston/NYC South, means having to deal with some particularly obnoxious transplants. Plus, for me, if the Red Wings can’t win the Cup, then I’d rather it be in Canadian hands–especially when the alternative is some Sun Belt team that has no business even having an NHL franchise winning it all. Besides, what else do they have in terms of sports?

  • B-bo

    Also, while it is easy to look at the riots in Vancouver and shake heads and point fingers and bemoan the fall of civil society, I have little doubt that a championship win would lead to similar behavior in Cleveland, as some people just don’t know how to celebrate in a controlled fashion. A loss, even a tough one, we could handle properly.

  • mgbode
  • Bootha

    Craig, as a lifelong Cleveland fan who moved to Maine “new England” in 1990, I have not lost my love for cleveland sports an the buckeyes. I also have friends who moved here who are fans of NY, FL, Tenn, sports teams but it sickened me last night watching them and a hundred othe bandwagon jumpers celebrate like it was the best day of thei lives. None had watched the bruins loyally over the years and most like opposig teams from other cities. Am I being selfish or just jealous that I’ve lived in the annoying Boston fan base for 21 years and have to deal with thei complacency of winning the big one every couple years? They are really cocky and suck to watch games with. Turing 27 soon, am still to into the sports and not over the love of being a fan or am I just in a bad city for a Cleveland fan? Inferl like we are never going to win….

  • Garry Owen

    @ 8:

    Knew a southie soldier a few years ago that didn’t know anything about what happened on December 7, 1941. We noticed that he had glazed over while we were discussing it, so we asked him if he knew about Pearl Harbor. He said, “Of cowse I know about Pearl Hahbah. It’s in Bahston.” Technically, he was right.

    I don’t know what that has to do with anything, but the memory of it never fails to bring a smile. Jimmy “Two Times, Two Times” is the only real Boston fan I’ve ever known. I’m just not sure he knew it. Fair or not, he represents all of Boston to my small mind.

  • NJ

    There’s bandwagon fans in every city.

    The Bruins bandwagon fan refrain is a precursor to the Indians bandwagon fan song we’ll be hearing in the not-too-distant-future: I was always a diehard fan who really loved the Tribe, but I stopped watching or even following them because of the horrible, horrible ownership who ruined the team I loved so much.

    And actually, Boston bandwagoners borrowed that refrain from the Blackhawks bandwagoners.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    All these Boston wins are why I cant stand my Boston friends. I need new friends.

  • jimkanicki

    to b-bo’s point, i’d love for canada to get a cup.

    but if it’s a US team, i’m sure happier with chicago/boston getting it than that stretch of tampa, carolina, anaheim. that seemed amiss in terms of hockey karma.

  • Shamrock

    The best article in ages! 😉

  • JJ

    I have been living in Boston for ten years, and for those ten years, I’ve had to deal with their insufferable fans non-stop. Moving to Nashville in a few weeks and cannot wait. The problem in Boston is there are so many colleges and it makes it easy for these kids to jump on the bandwagon of a winning team. Not me – I have stayed true to my Cleveland roots from day one – would have been far too easy to jump on the Boston bandwagon. I have an 8wk old son and am so happy we are moving him out of town before he has a chance of being brainwashed by evil Boston teams!

    With that said, our day is coming soon enough. Cleveland HAS to win something, dammit!

  • B-bo

    @mgbode and so it begins…

  • mgbode

    @B-bo – I initially just saw your comment and Shamrock’s and just assumed that your comment was directed between that and my first comment above :)

  • bobby

    1- I dont know why you would want to root for canada over USA (yes, I know the players are from vairous nationalities, but Luongo and Thomas are canadian and american).

    2- Tim Thomas was the most fun goalie I have seen in a while. He reminded me of the old-school type goalie. The kind that will go out and challenge you and get physical with players. It was like watching Mike Ritcher from my childhood.