19 Things I Learned From Dating a Boston Sports Fan
"Wisdom is learning what to overlook.”—William James
Remember when Ed Norton went to jail in American History X? Even though he suffered some disturbing blows at the hands of his out-for-blood cellmates, a kindly African American underwear-folder facilitated his education, which made Norton begin to see things from a whole new perspective.
This is a little like that.
So far I’ve learned:
1. World Series Tabulation Begins in the Year 2000
The Yankees suck because they haven’t won a World Series in eight years. Their record-breaking, storied franchise is null and void when you consider that in this century they are ringless. And that’s what counts.
I was thinking about this lesson and trying to make sense of it, when I remembered something my biology-major sister taught me. Somewhere between eight and 12 months of age, a child's cognition develops so that he understands that objects continue to exist even when he can't see them or experience them.
Boston fans blew right by this stage and skipped straight to the next one. Which interestingly enough, happens to be an inability to acknowledge others' viewpoints. I'm not making this up. Some scientiest named Jean Piaget did.
2. Tom Brady Played Hurt in Super Bowl XLII
Sure, it’s easy to beat the all-mighty Patriots when Tom Brady is injured. Big deal.
Why is someone always handicapped during pivotal moments for Boston teams? Curt Schilling played without a foot, Paul Pierce played without a knee…it must be nice to have that little justification to fall back on in case your team loses.
3. Jeter and A-Rod Suck
They are also gay, which is unforgivable.
Except when homosexuality is tied to Brady. It’s okay to be “gay for Brady.”
It’s not okay to make any insinuations about Brady being gay.
Actually, I've learned it’s just easier to not say anything about Tom Brady at all.
Some little known facts about our lionized Yankees: Jeter’s egregious inability to go to his left side when playing the infield, makes him the league’s worst shortstop. Not "good, but not great." The worst.
Also, A-Rod is worthless. Homeruns only count in the 9th inning.
4. Papelbon Can Fist-Pump. Joba Can't. Pedroia Can Slap Away Balls. A-Rod Can't. Manny doesn’t make errors.
The only thing more ridiculous than Manny Ramirez’s fielding is the fact he actually recently indicated he wants a Gold Glove. I have to assume he thinks a Gold Glove is the latest Wii accessory.
Joba’s fist-pumping enraged…someone? I’m not sure who decided this was unacceptable, but soon young Joba had to stifle his excitement after ending an inning. Papelbon is free to roll out Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Floats.
While A-Rod's slap-tactics defamed the sport, expedited global warming, supported organized crime, and made the world unsafe for democracy, Dustin Pedroia's arm flailing was part of his natural running motion.
5. Yankee Fans Are Classless and Obnoxious. Sox Fans are Wacky and Irreverent.
FALMOUTH, Mass.—A Cape Cod man faces charges for allegedly beating another man with a baseball bat because he thought he was a New York Yankees fan. He accused the man, whose children were in the car, of being a Yankees fan, then beat him and vandalized his car.
NASHUA, N.H.—A 43-year-old Nashua, N.H. woman faces murder charges after a man she's accused of running down during the weekend died. Witnesses say the incident was sparked by an argument between Red Sox and Yankees fans at a Nashua bar early Friday morning.
It's comparing apples and oranges. But really apples. I guess I can see the difference. Running someone down is psychotic and malicious. Beating someone up with a bat is all in good fun. Yankee fans have no sense of humor.
6. They Took the Hard Way When They Chose to Support the Red Sox. New Yorkers Took the Easy Way Out.
I’d go ahead and venture to say that choosing to be a Yankee fan while growing up in Boston would have handed you infinitely more hardships throughout your life than choosing to register as a member of the Red Sox Nation party.
7. 18-1 Is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of.
“I’d rather go 18-1 and not win a Super Bowl, than 14-6 and win a Super Bowl.” Right.
Patriot fans maintain that 18-1 chants don’t bother them at all because it’s such an impressive season. Yeah, I know exactly what they mean. Whenever someone gives me hell over the Yankees choking in 2004, I simply remind them of how remarkable it was to take a 3-0 lead in the ALCS in the first place.
8. Massachusetts Loves the Williams Sisters.
An ESPN poll done this past July asked the nation “Which is the better pair of current sports siblings?” While nearly 75% of the country chose the Mannings, Massachusetts went the way of the Williams sisters. Apparently, they are just a really big tennis-loving group of sports fans.
(Similarly, a poll this past weekend indicated that while the entire country thinks Favre has been a success with the Jets, Massachusetts and Connecticut disagree.)
9. Their misery cannot be compared to that of a Cubs fan. Their arrogance cannot be compared to that of a Yankees fan. Their fanaticism cannot be compared to that of an Eagles fan.
No fans will ever be quite like them. Ever. Cubs fans are bitter. Yankees buy their team. Eagles fans are assholes.
But Boston fans are unique. Which makes sense—according to Tolstoy, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
10. Larry Bird is Basketball Jesus. Johnny Damon was Red Sox Jesus. Tom Brady is God. “A-God” is Sacrilegious.
All this coming from a state with the second highest percentage of Catholics in the country.
11. They don’t believe in curses.
I’m not sure I’ve fully comprehended their stance on the Curse of the Bambino. Ask any Boston fan and they’ll swear they never bought into it, and it was just the product of hyper-extended media craze.
But then ask them 15 minutes later and they’ll regale you with tails of how the curse was broken when Manny hit a kid in the face with a line drive, who happened to be the current inhabitant of Babe Ruth’s house.
Then ask 15 minutes after that, and they’ll tell you, “Curses don’t exist. The Yankees are cursed. With A-Rod.”
12. They’re Incredulous Yankee Fans Continued to Wear Their Team’s Hats After 2004.
Which would mean that Red Sox fans shouldn’t have worn their team’s hats in the 86 years before 2004.
13. Tom Brady Is Better Than Montana, Unitas, and Simms. Seriously.
Broaching this subject means referring to the Golden Brady Rule discussed in Lesson #3 which consequently means I'm forced to chew off my own tongue.
14. Cheering For the Lakers Is Synonymous With Advocating Rape.
You can’t point out the off-field/court indiscretions of any Boston athlete. They act like whatever point you just brought up is on par with incest or genocide.
“Ok, that’s just wrong. You just went too far.”
15. They Do Not Have an Unhealthy Obsession With Hating the Yankees. Fine, If They Do, It's Only Because the Yankees Suck.
During a recent trip to Boston, I was reminded that I sucked. Everywhere and all the time.
Tourguides just went to town:
"Please don't lean out the boat windows. Unless you are a Yankee fan, feel free to fall out."
"Are there Yankee fans here? I'll talk slower to you guys."
"Fenway is painted Fenway green. Our Yankee fan Kris here probably wants to buy it and become a Red Sox fan."
Eventually it seemed like the New Englanders weren’t really interested in affecting me one way or the other, so much as they wanted to establish themselves firmly in opposition to New York. I got it. Point taken.
16. They Will Continue to Champion Curt Schilling and Bill Simmons, Despite Admitting They’re Fed Up With Both of Them.
It’s a little bit like Republicans running to Palin’s defense time and again, all the while thinking, “C’mon, I’m throwing myself in the line of fire for you and you can’t even name one Supreme Court case?”
17. There’s a Hockey Team? Are They Good?
I think there might even be a little animosity towards the Bruins for not joining the Boston Championship Club. Like the mousy freshman girl who decides she doesn’t want to join a sorority, so everyone pretends she doesn’t exist.
18. They Always Believed.
I can’t even listen to this without wanting to claw my ears off. Why is this worthy of commendation? Isn’t this part of the job description when you sign up for supporting a team?
Hey, tomorrow I think I’m going to go in and ask my boss for a raise…for coming into work every day.
And what exactly do they mean by “believe”? Is it…believed they were going to blow it at the last second to fulfill their masochistic dreams? Believed they were doomed to be heartbroken? Believed their frustrations outnumbered their gratifications?
Every team has fans that leave the game early, but not every fanbase refers to itself as “[Stadium] Faithfuls.” Not every team defines itself by its resiliency to adversity.
But this is irrelevant. Boston fans did the impossible. They rooted for their team. When no one else did. (Mainly because we were too busy rooting for our own teams.)
I wonder if they liked Dave Matthews before anyone else did, too.
19. They’d NEVER Date a New York Fan. Ever.
“I swear, I’m not that kind of person. I usually don’t do this kind of thing…”
Just this once.
* * *
It may appropriate to conclude this the same way American History X wrapped up: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”
Right. Easy for Lincoln to say.
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