The 61 New Best Things About Boston
17. The Hatred of Sports Fans Around the Nation
A year or so after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, my wife and I visited her family in California. Though an entire baseball season had passed since the Sox became a national feel-good story—Sisyphus at last bringing his boulder to rest—the goodwill generated by that team’s historic accomplishment had yet to fade. When I asked my wife’s nephew who his favorite player was, I was stunned when he said Big Papi. David Ortiz, I reminded him, had played a prominent role in the thrashing of his beloved Angels in the playoffs that year. “I know,” he replied, “but I just like him. He always seems to come through.”
This past Christmas, with all New England basking in still another World Series victory, my wife and I returned to California. When I congratulated her nephew on the success of his favorite player during this latest championship run, he screwed up his face in disgust. “I don’t like Ortiz, and I hate the Red Sox,” he said. “Actually, I hate all the Boston teams.”
It is difficult to convey the degree of pleasure I derived from that exchange. Everyone hates us now, of course. The staggering achievements of the Sox and the Patriots, who between them have won five titles in the past six years, combined with the renewed glory of the Celtics, have had a curious effect on the rest of the country. Fans elsewhere seem incapable anymore of distinguishing one of our teams from the next—our professional baseball, football, and basketball franchises have morphed into a single, monolithic, dream-crushing, championship-swallowing monstrosity that simply must be stopped. “I hate the Red Sox,” a sports fan from New York told the Washington Post in a story about the Super Bowl. “I hate all sports teams from Boston. They can go to hell.”
Oh, to bottle for the toasting of future championships this kind of uncontrollable rage, this teeth-grinding disgust, to roll it into leaves for the stuffing of endless victory cigars! For we in Boston understand such irrational hatred. It comes with knowing you’re outclassed, and we choked on it for decades. The feeling of insecurity, of powerlessness, is such that you actually begin to believe things that are objectively not true. As when, say, you somehow find yourself in control of the Yankees after years as a breeder of horses, and, for whatever reason, decide to tell a national magazine something like this:
“Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of shit that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans.”
For the record, the top-drawing road team in baseball last year—as good a measure as there is of a club’s national appeal—was your World Champion Boston Red Sox.
After the 2004 title, with people across the country unable to resist the story of the lovable losers who finally became champions, the Red Sox briefly became America’s team. But a nation’s pity will not restore a city’s pride. Notes of congratulation from friends back then did nothing to heal the memory of a Red Sox game I’d attended the year before at Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. As I walked to my car after that game, wearing my B-emblazoned cap, a passing truck honked in solidarity. When I looked up and waved, though, it turned out to be a group of Yankees fans, jeering and hollering from their open windows, “Boston sucks!” What could I say? What reply, in the face of 86 years of futility, was there to this humiliation?
Five years later, in the middle of a run of success so unfathomable it has reduced the owner of the Yankees to incoherent ravings, we are all redeemed. —J.W.
18. The New Indie Rock Concerts at the MFA
The hottest rock venue in town, the one with the most in-demand and memorable shows? Try the 380-seat Remis Auditorium at the Museum of Fine Arts. Since 2002, the Remis has played host to bands like Mountain Goats, Vampire Weekend, Taken by Trees, and Xiu Xiu. During an unforgettable gig last year by indie darlings Spoon, one intoxicated young woman crawled atop the stage at the august institution and turned it into her own personal catwalk, strutting and shaking what she had to shake. Not the kind of performance art you’d expect from the museum, but it was undoubtedly a crowd-pleaser, all the same. —Paul Kix
We Love This Town Because…
19. If Rachael Ray has anything to say about it, America will run on Dunkin’, goddamn it.
20. Even though the Charlie Card machines always break down when you need to refill your pass on the first of the month, that’s not enough to dull the thrill you still get from the fact that you don’t have to take the card out of your wallet to pay your fare.
21. Harvard sex blogger Lena Chen of sexandtheivy.com won’t graduate for another year.
22. It’s almost warm enough for the mayor to start riding his bike again.