Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Bell Curve

I was explaining to my Not Quite Yet Girlfriend last night the recent history of Boston sports during the waning minutes of the Celtics/Hawks game, mentioning that the game on the television fit the disturbing recent pattern of Boston fans getting bit in the ass by complacency. I mentioned how good our teams had been over the past eight years, prompting her to ask,"But weren't they really bad before that?" I lied and said yes, when the truth is they were on one hand (Sox) frustrating and on the other three just recently terrible. Worse than the performance of the teams themselves was the knowledge that every year was going to be the same as the year before it. And then Drew Bledsoe got hurt.

Now, I loved Bledsoe. But when Tommy Brady took over the Patriots, our sports experience took a sharp turn upward, where it stayed through the three Patriots titles and the Sox 2004 championship. That was the top of the bell curve, which was extremely steep. Even four years ago our teams were generally beloved by the media, the only arbiter that really matters; the Patriots were seen as the "model" franchise, and the Sox were the good guys versus the Yankees. The final out against Alan Embree in the 2004 ALCS was the tipping point, and you may not know it, but things have been downhill from there. The performances haven't always indicated it, but the new ethos of Boston sports took over and started to poison the results and our reputation in the country at large. In a nation that can't agree on anything except that Dennis Kucinich is crazy and Roger Clemens is an asshole, Boston fans are loathed by anyone. Why?

We expected to win. And with "only" one more title since 2004, we're not putting our money where our mouth is. The thing is, almost nobody could. Have we lost the passion? Yes, we have. Bravado about the Patriots' skills and declaring you hate Peyton Manning isn't the same as getting pumped up for your team's game. Last year, I texted an old friend before game 7 of the Cleveland series. No response. When we beat the Rockies, I got a couple phone calls. We expected to win. No big whoop. Then the Patriots season happened, and it was, at the bitter end, God's gift to everyone Out There who hated us and the first sign the sun was setting on our decade of triumphs.

Then Kevin Garnett came along, and we thought we had another hope. The problem is we were still cocky, when the 2007-08 Celtics are still a tenuous experiment. They could still win the title, but we have to remember the games are played on the court, not in the battlefield of "who can be a bigger asshole fan." If the Celtics lose to the Hawks — still unlikely, but plausible — we'll be back near the bottom of the bell curve, hopefully in a spot that encourages us to root for our team based not on a false sense of superiority, but because of our love of the region and the game. Same thing with the Sox. That's why we started this blog, to show that Sox love has little or nothing to do with the Sox winning. We've won. Let's get over it and root like real fans, and prepare for what might happen at the bottom of the bell curve in Atlanta this weekend.


Moacir said...

I remember when this blog was about baseball and things that mattered. Not math and losing your hair over the Celts.

Ryan said...

As far as all the asshole fan stuff and the fact that a lot of NE fans expect to win and don't even get excited anymore, I think you just need to ignore it. Being a fan of a team doesn't mean you have to like all the other fans of that team; it can just be about the relationship between you and your team. So, when your team wins, enjoy it and don't worry about what anyone else thinks.

Ben said...

"Tommy Brady"? That's infinity times worse that Little Dusty. Have you no shame?

Bryan said...

I'm with Ryan: I have absolutely no shame. Tommy Brady, Little Dusty, 'Cobes Ellsbury, I love 'em all and I don't care what you think or call them. Die.

rm said...

As someone who always said I'd rather see the Celtics get #17 than the Sox end the curse, I am not going to listen to your little bell curve thing. I've been at the bottom of that bell curve for 15 years now, and it's time to go up, Josh Smith and Joe Johnson be damned!