Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A little news from Boston:

Sports radio here started the celebration early. With the Red Sox up three games to none in the World Series, needing only one more victory to close the thing out, Teddy Sarandis on overnight duty at Sports Radio WEEI was already waxing eloquent -- well, as eloquent as someone who thinks "analogy" is a fancy word for "analysis" can ever get -- on the team's glorious achievement and its place in history.

A few years ago, Rick Pitino, erstwhile coach of the Celtics, had a press conference at which he complained bitterly about the negativity of the local sports fans. (WEEI still sometimes plays the clip before the evening presentation of the "Whiner Line", a fifteen-minute segment in which callers roast local teams' personnel, the sports press, the station's own on-air talent, the mayor, and anyone else who has anything to do with the Boston sports scene). Pitino himself was not an entirely positive presence. He's remembered here for sparking a revival of his own listless team by resigning and fleeing town in the dead of night. But the man had a point. There is a certain mean-spiritedness around here, even in victory.

As an example: we complain here all the time about arrogant, overbearing Yankee fans from New York. Well, there are Yankee fans around here, too, a few of whom are regular callers to the talk shows on WEEI. One of them, "Frank from Gloucester", is someone that New York fans might think of as the anti-Jerome: a bit of a crackpot, but a crackpot with a sunny disposition, always prepared, in the face of Yankee setbacks, to cheerily say they'll be over it soon and remind you they have in the past. Unless, that is, the setback is the worst playoff collapse in the history of Major League Baseball -- winning the first three games of a seven game series, only to have the Red Sox grind out crushing defeats in each of the last four. In the wake of that collapse, inflicted by the Red Sox, Frank called the Whiner Line and left a frankly eerie message, congratulating the Sox and their fans in a quavering voice and hoping he wouldn't be dead by spring. This was an opportunity for the callers and the on-air talent to show a little magnanimity in victory, and to demonstrate what good sportsmanship is all about. Let's just say they didn't take it.

Well, the Red Sox are famous for disappointing their fans, but that victory over the Yankees was so complete and so crushing that even an ordinary World Series loss couldn't take off the glow. The only thing that could possibly be a disappointment for Red Sox fans after that would be if their team somehow managed to duplicate the Yankee collapse in the World Series, on the only larger stage the sport has to offer. The World Series is a seven-game series, and as I write, they're up three games to none.


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