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Boston fans go from lovable to loathed

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Kevin Hench

An accomplished film and television writer, Kevin Hench's latest screenwriting credit is for The Hammer, which stars Adam Carolla. His podcast, Spider and the Henchman, is available every Friday on iTunes. MORE>>
   
 

What do you want us to do, apologize?

Celebrate in silence? Live as sports renunciates?

I know you’re sick of us. We’re sick of us.

But what’s a “Masshole” to do when his teams just can’t stop winning championships?

Old-timey Masshole Henry David Thoreau told us that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Maybe that was true in 1854, 49 years before the Boston Americans brought the Hub its first title. And maybe Boston sports fans would be bearable if it were still true. But once sporting life began in earnest in Beantown the mass of Massachusetts men made a commitment to living life in loud, obnoxious desperation. (Just ask my wife.)

And as off-putting as loud, obnoxious desperation can be, it’s still easier to like than loud, obnoxious jubilation. Which describes the general delirium that has engulfed The Town and the extended Boston Sports Nation and its diehard diaspora over the last decade.

Just when we thought we couldn’t be any more despised by the non-Boston sports fandom – read: less knowledgeable, less passionate, better spouses – the Bruins went and won the Cup.

Tim Thomas may be the most likable underdog sports story to come along in a while, but his Conn Smythe heroics just sent the Boston Sports Fans Are Unbearable Meter off the charts.

Though they were dealing with their own pain (and not well), Vancouver fans kind of summed up the non-Boston sports world’s reaction to yet another duck boat championship parade on the Charles River. Set This Car On Fire If You Hate Boston.

It’s hard to go from lovable losers to reviled, entitled, over-privileged villains in 10 years. But we did it! How’d it happen?

At the turn of the century Boston sports was in a deep, dark funk. The Celtics hadn’t won a title since 1986, an unprecedented drought for the NBA’s most storied franchise. The Red Sox’ title hiatus was at 82 years and counting. The Patriots were holding steady with zero championships. And the Bruins were so hopeless Boston hockey fans were actually happy when Ray Bourque was paroled so he could go get his name on the Cup with the Avalanche.

The city’s sports landscape was so desolate, we weren’t even a blip on the Unbearable Fan Meter. And then . . .

Patriots 20, Rams 17
Feb. 3, 2002

No once could have known the Tuck Rule that saved the Patriots’ season in the divisional round and allowed them to go on to win Super Bowl XXXVI would be the start of a historic run for Boston sports. And when the red-white-and-blue Patriots chose to be introduced as a team against the 14-point-favorite Rams five months after 9/11, well, nobody begrudged Boston its first championship in over 15 years.

Violence in Vancouver

See photos from the rioting after the Canucks' Stanley Cup Finals loss in 2011.

Unbearable Fan Meter Level: 1

Patriots 32, Panthers 29
Feb. 1, 2004

At this point it was still very hard to hate what seemed like a team of journeymen, and – by extension – very hard to hate the people who rooted for them. Troy Brown, Antowain Smith, Adam Vinatieri? We were still the good guys.

Unbearable Fan Meter Level: 2

Red Sox Sweep Cardinals
Oct. 27, 2004

Ah, the happy moment when the rest of the sports world stopped sympathizing with the Boston sports fan. The Red Sox didn’t just lift the Curse of the Bambino, they did so by pinning the greatest playoff collapse in sports history on the Yankees. We were like deep sea divers who had come up too fast, disoriented by so much success – eight straight playoff wins – in such a short period of time. Not all of us handled it well.

Unbearable Fan Meter Level: 6

Patriots 24, Eagles 21
Feb. 6, 2005

Another three-point Super Bowl victory for the Pats with their fans inevitably becoming as arrogant as their coach. For the suddenly spoiled fans of this once woebegone franchise, nothing less that a Super Bowl title was now seen as in any way a successful season. (The Pats now have the longest title drought of any major Boston sports team.)

Unbearable Fan Meter Level: 7

Red Sox Sweep Rockies
Oct. 28, 2007

David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez had done the unthinkable. In their brief time with this accursed franchise they had Red Sox fans expecting the clutch hit, expecting the comeback win, expecting to win the World Series. Is there any more unbearable fan than one who just assumes his team is going to win? (Yes, every step we took to becoming just like Yankee fans made us more unbearable.)

Unbearable Fan Meter Level: 8

Celtics Beat Lakers in 6
June 17, 2008

The Celtics had long been Boston’s saving grace. But this 17th championship, highlighted by overcoming a 24-point deficit in Game 4, was their first in 22 years. The sense that the Celtics had received a sweetheart deal from old friend Kevin McHale for Kevin Garnett caused a bitterness spike among the Boston haters. Boston fans just enjoyed the near-annual duck boats.

Unbearable Fan Meter Level: 9

Bruins Beat Canucks in 7
June 15, 2011

It was the final piece of the puzzle. The Stanley Cup. Now Massholes have won it all. Boston is the first city to have all four major sports teams win championships in a span of six years, four months. No fan base has ever been more spoiled in more ways by more teams.

Unbearable Fan Meter Level: 10 (and flashing)

Maybe now we can relax, tone it down a bit, share the wealth.

Nah. Not with the Red Sox playing out of their minds. Heck, the night the Bruins won the Cup, Josh Beckett was one-hitting the Rays.

The next night, Thursday, Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a high fly ball down the right-field line in the 8th inning of Boston’s 4-2 win over the Rays in St. Petersburg.

The ball drifted foul, landing harmlessly wide of the fair pole.

But it didn’t land just anywhere. It landed in the mitt of a fan. A Rays fan? Yeah, right. No, the ball was caught by a fan wearing a Red Sox hat and a Milan Lucic Bruins jersey (sweater, for you diehards).

Of course.

You can’t escape them.

Massholes. We’re everywhere. And we’re a very, very happy bunch.

Tagged: Bruins, Tim Thomas

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