From the 1986 NBA Finals until the 2001 Super Bowl, no Boston team won a championship in any sport. The Boston Red Sox went eighty-six years – from 1918 until 2004 – without winning a World Series. The Boston Bruins haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1972. The New England Patriots didn’t win a Super Bowl until their forty-second year of existence.
Boston fans learned patience. The figured out fandom. They learned how to hope, they learned how to wait, and they stuck with their teams even – especially – when they were outclassed, outspent and outgunned. For a long time, Boston fans did things the right way.
Then their teams started winning, useless-girls-with-pink-hats took over Fenway, and their little “let me die in peace” schtick went from mildly irritating to played the fuck out.
And now they’re booing David Ortiz at Fenway Park.
We’ve already gone through this shit in New York with the Yankees, so we know the symptoms. From 1978 to 1996, the Yankees didn’t win a blessed thing. In 1996, a charmed team had a charmed year, Derek Jeter entered our collective consciousness, and Yankee hats – tacky multicolored ones, usually cocked annoyingly to the side, but Yankee hats nonetheless – appeared on people’s heads for the first time in nearly twenty years.
Then they won again in ’98. And ’99. And 2000. And everyone in New York thought they were going to win the damned thing every single year. You’d go to a game and listen to these motherfuckers, and you’d think the world owed them a win. And when someone on another team summoned the temerity to do something right – or worse, when someone on the Yankees had the audacity to fuck up – nobody understood. They didn’t understand because the people with that sense of entitlement – our version of the pink-hatters – weren’t the ones who’d suffered through eighteen years of Jesse Barfield, Steve Kemp, Ken Phelps and Stump Merrill.
Things are back to normal around here now. The Yankees haven’t won the World Series in eight years. The Red Sox – the fucking Red Sox – have won two championships over that same span. Yankee fans still boo. They still piss and moan when players fail – ask Alex Rodriguez – but Yankee failure isn’t classified as unthinkable the way it once was. All the pink-hats in New York, provided they stuck with baseball once the Yankees were done winning every year, have learned enough by now to know that wins aren’t a foregone conclusion. That other teams actually have guys who know how to play. That baseball doesn’t owe New York a living.
And now they’re booing David Ortiz at Fenway Park, which begs the following question:
Who the fuck are you people to boo this guy?
You went eighty-six years without winning jack shit. Now you’ve won two championships in four years – throw in the Celtics and Patriots and their titles for good measure – and you’re right back where Yankees fans were in 1999 with the expectations and the entitlement and the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately bullshit that makes everyone who watches sports want your teams to lose every game from now until eternity. It’s ugly, it’s unbecoming of a city with Boston’s sports tradition, and it smacks of front-running in the worst possible way.
In a few years, when Boston returns to normal, they'll understand.