The Red Sox are going to sweep the Dodgers. They have been simply incredible this October, particularly their three wins in Houston. Their pitching has been inconsistent, but their defense has been stunning, and their bats have been relentless. Who’s to say that the Red Sox won’t overtake the Cardinals for second most MLB titles?
A Deadspin article yesterday proclaimed that it “blows” that a Boston club is going to win another title. Excuse me?
Boston is a professional sports town. It has been a pro sports town since around 1912. It doesn’t care about the four NCAA hockey teams (yeah, the Beanpot is a thing, but not a big thing). It doesn’t care about Boston College football or basketball. It didn’t care about my U Mass and Marcus Camby making it to the Final Four in 1996. It’s pro sports all the way. Only Los Angeles comes close in terms of league championship diversity and frequency. And that’s pretty amazing, given how small Boston is compared to L.A.
What does “a pro sports town” mean? It means that each decade since the 1950s, at least one of its pro-sports teams has won a title (hmm, aside from the 90s, so my argument has a weak spot there, but moving on). The Celtics were unbelievably dominant in the late 1950s and through almost all of the 1960s. In 1967, the Red Sox awakened, ushering in a new era of fan support, revenue, and the quest to be the best team in baseball. They went from less than 4,000 tickets sold per game at Fenway to sellouts for over fifty years. What we’re seeing is the fulfillment of that 1967 dream. The Red Sox are about to add a ninth title to their trophy case - the same number that the Cardinals had at the end of 1982. The Red Sox now have the third most number of titles of any MLB team.
That 1967 Red Sox team didn’t just motivate the Sox. It motivated the other three pro sports clubs. And what we’ve seen since 2001 is a synchronization of their efforts. Boston has celebrated ten titles this century, soon to be eleven. That doesn’t blow. That’s what Boston is good at. Pro sports titles are its thing.
Some cities are great at being financial hubs. Some have a great music, restaurant, cocktail or coffee scene. Some are known as tech hubs. Boston is at least three things: a great higher learning town, a great medicine and biotech town, and the leading pro sports town in the US. Back in the 90s, when I had to describe Boston, I talked about 1967, 1972 and 1975, but I also had to stretch a bit and say that it produced a lot of FBI agents (it still does), and was the Mutual Fund capital of of the US (Fidelity). It had the best hospitals of course, but it couldn’t boast anything in pro sports besides Pedro Martinez being the best MLB pitcher since Sandy Koufax.
The New York-centric media didn’t groan when the Yankees won three consecutive titles (1998-2000). New York has two clubs that will never win another championship -the Jets and the Knicks. It has a National League team that should be making the playoffs more often given its revenues and my support (ha!). It has two NFL clubs that are really New Jersey clubs. One of them has four Super Bowl wins and the city doesn’t seem to care (although they are popular on Wall Street and outside the city). And New York has a decent Original Six hockey club. I would argue that New York is a two club town -the Yankees and the Rangers. Boston is all-in with its four leagues. And that’s what makes Boston the premier pro sports town in America.
Did anyone ever say, “We found another great rock band from Seattle. That blows.” Did a food critic ever write, “Well, Los Angeles has another amazing restaurant. That blows.” No. Boston is about to produce its 11th professional sports title this century. That’s what Boston does. People who complain about Boston winning follow teams that don’t win.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to sob about my Newcastle United, and how its disgusting owner is content to let them fall out of the top league for a third time in nine years. That blows.
Update, October 29 2018: The Red Sox nearly did it. They fell a couple of bad plays short of sweeping the Dodgers. Meanwhile, the crying and moaning from the New York-centric press continues.