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Beantown beatdown

Boston enjoys rare laughing dominance over NY

Posted: Tuesday December 11, 2007 2:28PM; Updated: Thursday January 3, 2008 2:26PM
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Must-see TV: Bill Belichick will surely be fixing to relieve Eric Mangini of his lunch money on Sunday.
Must-see TV: Bill Belichick will surely be fixing to relieve Eric Mangini of his lunch money on Sunday.
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Sunday's anticipated mugging of the Jets by the Patriots says everything about the current state of the storied New York -- Boston rivalry.

The Patriots are a gleaming 13-0 juggernaut, winners of three of the last six Super Bowls, a model organization. The Jets are a gangrenous 3-10 mess deserving of 24-point underdog status. The Red Sox are coming off their second World Series title since 2004 flush with a savvy front office, big bags of Benjamins, talented youth and great pitching. The Yankees, fresh from the eviction of Joe Torre, are spinning their whitewalls, adding the highly-flammable LaTroy Hawkins to a tinderbox bullpen and hoping their three kid pitchers blossom in the spring. Across town, the Mets -- those villains of the '86 Buckner Series -- are licking their wounds after an epic stretch-drive collapse. The Celtics own the NBA's best winning percentage. The Knicks are a dysfunctional horror show that suffered a 104-59 humiliation at the hands of their green-shirted rivals two weeks ago.

Creepies, even the Bruins, those skate-wearing afterthoughts, have more points (35) than the Stanley Cup-contender Rangers (34) and upstart Islanders (30), who the B's recently beat on the Island for the first time in six years.

Few intercity rivalries bubble with such intensity and history. The allegiance lines in New York (generally Yankees-Giants-Rangers-Knicks or Mets-Jets-Islanders-Knicks) make it easy to get at least a little riled up when a team from Boston is on the schedule. For Bostonians, the Yankees alone make it easy to wish plague, famine, pestilence and boils upon New York, so their city's current success feels like karmic payback for those 26 World Series rings and the injustices visited by people named Dent and Boone.

No city has ever won the Big Four Grand Slam (Super Bowl, World Series, NBA title, Stanley Cup) in one calendar year, but New York did grab three of the four in 1969-70 ... with Boston copping the '69 NBA crown and '70 Cup. New York has gone without a title of any kind since 2000. Boston looks poised to take the Series and Super Bowl for the second time since 2004-05. For this present state of affairs, I credit Beantown/New England's edge in upper management.

Rivalries burn hottest when both sides are strong, but Sunday's frolic in Foxboro is compelling not only because the Pats are seeking to keep the sauce of defeat off the starched white shirt of their perfect season or that Bill Belichick will relish throwing an ungodly, short-circuit-the-scoreboard beating on Eric Mangini, the quisling who left to take the Jets job (likely to his bitter regret) and turned him in for illicit intelligence-gathering activities. Belichick has a strong New York connection by virtue of his days as Giants defensive coordinator and Jets assistant coach before he famously bailed on their head job after one day. These kind of crossovers (see Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Johnny Damon, Bill Parcells, etc.) are logs on the emotional fire. As it is, the dour Belichick, who is only slightly less warm and fuzzy than Steely Dick Cheney, is easy to root against -- if you're not a Patriots partisan, of course.

New York may be sporting shiners at the moment, but I wouldn't put it past the Jets or Giants to beat the Patriots if only because the Jets and Giants can be such monumental pains in the ass to their own fans as well as everyone else. Just ask the 1998 Broncos of John Elway who were upended at 13-0 by the 5-8 Kent Graham Giants.

Those Broncos recovered to win the Super Bowl, so other than the occasional minor indignity, I expect the Patriots to roll on and the Beantown beatings to continue until certain New York teams improve.

Sidelines

In keeping with our theme, the Boston Bruins seem to have a young goaltender who appeared in the major motion picture Gangs of New York under a stage name. Coincidence? The rantings of a deranged sterno bum? You decide.

One and the same?
Tuukka Rask
Leonardo DiCaprio

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