Only '90s Kids Will Remember This
Boston was once likable as a sports city.
It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time where a lot of us were pulling for them.
Before Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, before Garnett/Allen/Pierce introduced us to the idea of a Big Three, before the Red Sox became as common a fixture as any in the World Series, they were actually sort of endearing, believe it or not.
It wasn’t just the teams, either — it was the fans.
If you’re younger than a certain age, you might take for granted our current sports internet — for better or for worse. Big media outlets like ESPN, Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports running content that’s not widely different from that of well-funded would-be outsiders like Deadspin, Bleacher Report, SBNation, or from a wide array of independent creators on Twitter, on podcasts (hello) and countless other angles.
Back then, online, it was pretty much just ESPN. (Or espn.go.com, as it was). There was one breath of fresh air, though — something that felt different and new. It was a strange side project ESPN funded called Page 2. They brought in big-name writers like Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Wiley, and they brought in an indie sports blogger from Boston named Bill Simmons.
Sure, Simmons has gone on to create a series of huge ventures, including Grantland, The Ringer, and ESPN’s much-loved 30 For 30 series of documentaries. He’s as big a name as there is in the world of sports media, whether he’s elevating the next class of up-and-coming sports personalities or pulling off cringe-worthy Boston homer stuff on Twitter.
In 2002, he was just a guy who sounded like a fan, before we had many of those to read. Sure, he wasn’t a fan of my teams, but unless you were a Yankee or Laker fan (or both -- you monster), who could really have much problem with this? The Celtics were a non-factor, the Red Sox got perky in the playoffs once they traded for peak Pedro Martinez but always managed to stall out before it mattered, the Bruins were garbage and the Patriots were a complete afterthought.
I just say all this to absolve myself of something that haunts me now in retrospect.
When the New England Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI over the seemingly-unbeatable St. Louis Rams (it was a different time!), I was legitimately delighted for them, not just because of the upset, but because my favorite sportswriter rooted for them, and he was going to have something good on it.
He did, too! A column titled “Now I Can Die In Peace”, something I will not go back and read now any more than I will go back and read my own college thesis or song lyrics I composed in 1999. It’s simply a thing that exists that we cannot revisit under present-day conditions.
Seventeen years have passed since then, and the Patriots have added five more rings to their collection. The Red Sox broke their 86-year curse in 2004, and added wins in 2007, 2013 and 2018 and became every bit as obnoxious as the Yankees they sought to overcome. The Celtics won a title in 2008 and became a perennial Eastern Conference power, and the Bruins even won a Stanley Cup of their own. No city in North America has come anywhere close to Boston’s level of success in the 21st century, and it’s not showing any signs of abating. There’s no reason to feel sorry for Bostonians, and it’s hard to really feel anything but outright contempt as a sports fan.
They do give hope, though. If a city could have a legitimate claim to being lovable losers and turn it into a truly grating level of success in just 17 years, why can’t we? What’s to say that this won’t happen next for Cleveland, or Tampa? Who knows if in 20 years we’ll be bitching about another Seattle team winning a championship?
It could happen anywhere, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.
So, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about this week’s episode. Comedian Mike Mulloy, host of On Deck Comedy and Faded Comedy in Los Angeles joins us to discuss his life as a Boston fan. Some things to discuss!
Ricky Davis, who was (according to Wikipedia, which is never wrong) a “fan favorite” in Boston prior to the Big Three days. Prior to joining the Celtics, he was best known for his Cavaliers days, where he once shot at the wrong basket in a failed attempt to get a rebound to finish off a triple-double, and stated that he thought Cleveland was drafting LeBron James to help him score.
Carl Everett, who did not believe in dinosaurs
Manny Ramirez, who is a national treasure and an utter delight
Kyrie Irving, who is a freaking weirdo and the opposite of an utter delight
Should Fenway Park be torn down? We say yes.
As always, we’re available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Omny.fm and elsewhere, and you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @CircleSevenPod. Thanks for listening and reading!
— Scott Hines (@actioncookbook)