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Are Boston Fans Spoiled?

Let’s be honest. We New England sports fans have been spoiled.

As the baseball season begins and the Red Sox launch their quest for their fifth world championship in 18 years, it might make sense to just take a deep breath and reflect on how extraordinary the past two decades have been.

Look at the tally. Six Super Bowl victories by the Patriots. Four World Series rings for the BoSox. Throw in a Bruins Stanley Cup (2011) and a Celtics championship (2008), and you would be hard-pressed to come up with any other city pulling off such a concentrated string of sporting success.

Our duck boats have been trotted out so frequently that they are undoubtedly in need an overhaul… much like the Patriots.

This run of Beantown good fortune was fun, but it also led to a certain cockiness previously only seen in Yankees fans (or, if you are a Big Ten person like me — a proud Badger — in Ohio State fans).

The Yankees Empire

For much of the 20th century, Yankees fans were pretty smug. An annual World Series appearance was almost guaranteed, and a Series loss — such as the one in 1960, when the underdog Pittsburgh Pirates bested them — was so infrequent that it came as a seismic shock.

Boston fans

When I was a kid, I got to see a number of Yankee/Red Sox series at Fenway. These were the days when the Bronx Bombers had players like Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Elston Howard, and Whitey Ford.

We had Ted Williams… and Ted Williams. 

Yankees fans used to sit nearby. You could tell them by their deep blue caps with the squiggly N.Y. And by the pleasure they exhibited as the Yankees invariably crushed our team … and our souls.

True, in those days, we did have the magnificent Celtics. And the Bruins briefly blazed brightly in the early ‘70s. 

But the Patriots were uniformly awful. One sportswriter invariably referred to them as the “Patsies.” And their only trip to the Super Bowl, in 1985, was a humiliating 46-10 loss to the Chicago Bears. Prior to that, in their only AFL title match, in 1963, they embarrassed themselves by losing 51-10 to the San Diego Chargers.

As Marlon Brando once put it, “The horror!”

Boston’s Golden Age

Strangely, many Boston sports fans seemed to enjoy wallowing in the ineptitude exhibited by these teams. They bought books like What’s The Matter with The Red Sox? by Al Hirshberg or listened to sports talk show broadcasts that sounded more like group analysis sessions.

Suffering became so much the norm that you next expected to see Boston fans shirtless and self-flagellating as they made their way down Commonwealth Ave. 

But then came Boston’s Golden Age. It lasted twenty years. 

And it is probably over.

Which is not to say I have given up hope for my beloved Red Sox.

On opening day each year, I run a Red Sox banner up the flagpole in front of our house. (Yes, we have a flagpole — the house was previously occupied by a general and a judge.) 

I am surrounded by Toronto fans, supporters of the Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, and Raptors. And on the football side of things, many are Buffalo Bills fans. Their teams seem to be collectively ascending.

To which I say: enjoy it while you can. And do not get too cocky.

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About The Author
Robert Waite
Robert Waite
Robert is Managing Director at Waite + Co., a communications firm with offices in Boston, Ottawa and Toronto. He also teaches at Seneca College. He has more than 35 years experience leading communications, marketing and government relations functions for some of North America’s largest firms, including Ford, IBM, CAE, CIBC and Canada Post. He served as Press Secretary to Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-MA) and Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) and in the Reagan Administration. He is a three-time winner of the New England Press Association’s Best Column Award. He can be reached at [email protected].
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