SARTRE WROTE that "hell is other people," but if he had spent less time eating croissants in Paris caf�s and more time downing wings in sports bars, he probably would have written that "hell is other fans." All fans are insufferable to those who don't have an affinity for the same team; being forced to listen to, say, a Kansas City Royals buff regale you with the exploits of rookie shortstop Mike Aviles is no better than listening to a grandmother go on and on about her little darling's toilet training.
That said, there's one group of "other fans" that stands out in its tediousness. Think Matt and Ben. Think Sweet Caroline. Think Sartre pronounced without the r's.
Yes, we're talking about Boston fans.
Bostonians have long basked in their Boston-ness. (There's a well-worn joke that had Neil Armstrong been from Boston, the Globe would have run a headline that read HUB MAN WALKS ON MOON.) And now they have all kinds of things to be smug about: recent titles for the Celts, Sox and Pats; an NCAA hockey championship for Boston College; Oscars for The Departed; Emmys for Boston Legal; John Adams's newfound status as America's favorite dead president. When news that New Kids on the Block are reuniting brings joy to a large segment of the populace, it's a sign that Beantown can officially do no wrong. The ubiquity of happy Bostonians is almost enough to make a man swear off clam chowder and Cheers reruns and long for the days when those cuddly, understated Yankees fans were the ones who had it all.
Look, guys, no one is asking you to swallow your civic pride. But all this wicked pissah talk is starting to make the rest of us wicked pissed. Would it kill you to remember all those promises you made to the sports gods to never ask for another thing if the Red Sox could win one—just one—World Series? It seems that plenty of people who vowed in late 2004 that they could now die in peace have gone on living raucously, calling for Manny Ramirez's head after a slow April (he's Manny, for crying out loud; he gets a free pass) and furiously chanting "Seventeen!" at the Garden last week (sixteen's not enough?) while going nuts every time a certain hoodie-wearing, illicit-videotaping NFL coach appeared on the JumboTron.
Enough, already. To those who for so long yelled Nomah!, allow me to respond, with equal conviction: No m�s!
You'll say this rant is motivated by jealousy, and, of course, you'll be right. I'd love to know that every year brings with it the promise of a championship, or even a championship run, for at least one of my teams. But I'm not alone in feeling fed up. And there is an inescapable irony that the cradle of American democracy is now a symbol of sports hegemony, quashing the dreams of the have-nots—i.e., die-hard aficionados of the Cleveland Indians, the San Diego Chargers, Grey's Anatomy and Martin Van Buren. I'm not suggesting that Red Sox Nation should secede, or that Boston's teams be thrown out of their respective leagues. (Actually, that's not a bad idea. Note to self: Send out a feeler to John McCain. He's an Arizona Cardinals fan, and he's going to lose Massachusetts anyway, so maybe he'd commit to this.)
For now all I can do is ask this of Boston fans: The next time you consider throwing a bottle of Sam Adams Summer Ale at the TV because Hideki Okajima just allowed another inherited runner to score, instead appreciate how good you have it. And remember that there's something untoward about adding to one's bounty while others continue to go wanting. Heed these words: "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."
The speaker? Jack Kennedy—a Hub man if ever there was one.