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.