Monthly Archives: June 2011

Fans in box seats who don’t fist-roll are self-centered jerks

Back before the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years, practically no one important wanted anything to do with the team. In fact, as recently the late 1980s, Jerry Remy’s Bar & Grill on Boylston St. looked nothing like it does today as it was nothing but a modest industrial mill employing roughly 50 day laborers.

After work, those same blue-collar millworkers got soused on cheap, locally brewed lager and sat behind home plate for a price equivalent to a few hours’ wages. They yelled and cheered for guys like Ellis Burks, Jody Reed and Mike Greenwell; they stood for two-strike counts; and they fist-rolled.

Oh, did they ever fist-roll.

That jarring motion of rolling forearms just inside the pitcher’s peripheral vision resulted in uncharacteristic loss of strike-zone command, disorientation and, in many cases, projectile vomiting due to nausea.

Think Alfredo Aceves’ five consecutive walks in Tuesday night’s loss to the Padres was a bizarre display of pitching yips? Well, Fenway fans rolled their fists so furiously during one game in 1990 that a confounded Chuck Finley threw an entire inning with his right arm even though he was predominantly left-handed. The Red Sox scored 11 runs on only two hits.

But that was back when Bostonians used to make things. Back before Everything Went Corporate.

The Red Sox won it all in 2004 and businesses cashed in. Shortly thereafter, perhaps only coincidentally but most likely not at all, fans’ gamesmanship officially died—grown men were suddenly deeply offended by mostly meaningless hand gestures; passive aggressive T-shirts professing various degrees of suckitude replaced half-joking (but mostly good-natured) death threats aimed at rat-bastard Yankees players and coaches; parents stopped buying their kids multiple bags of Cool Ranch Doritos and jars of peanut butter to snack on during doubleheaders.

In a few blinks of the eye, the Red Sox fan base has gone soft. The fire is officially gone. The old-tymey tenacity has been replaced by lukewarm ‘Let’s Go Red Sox’ chants.

It doesn’t have to be like this, of course. In a cruel twist of irony, the last glimmer of hope resides in the people that sit in the box seats behind home plate.

If Fenway’s well-to-do fans can routinely go to the trouble to pull out their cell phones to make sure their best friend from the third grade knows they have seats in the fifth row, there’s no reason why they can’t go the extra mile and churn their fists at a rapid rate of speed while the opposing team’s pitcher is on the mound trying to hone in on home plate.

As denizens of the field box level, these fans enjoy the convenience of never having to leave their seats to purchase beer and concessions. Aramark servers cater to their growingly sophisticated needs throughout the game, affording their full attention to the baseball game and leaving their forearms in perfect position for rolling their fists in an obnoxiously fast circular motion.

Sure, this fist-rolling tactic may sound childish and embarrassingly stupid. But anyone who claims they aren’t interested in the Red Sox winning a ballgame because Justin Verlander got a serious case of vertigo after staring at a bunch of spinning forearms in the box seats isn’t being honest to themselves. As fans of a team that has lost hundreds of at-bats over the last four-plus years from J.D. Drew as a direct result of vertigo, can’t we honestly say we have it coming to us? It’s about time opposing pitchers from around the league start to once again fear pitching in Fenway Park.

There’s no reason why the back of the pitcher’s mound shouldn’t look like some puke-laden L Street sidewalk the day after St. Patrick’s Day.

Of course, results may be mixed. For example, fist-rolling could prove counter-intuitive against pitchers such as Kansas City Royals ace Jeff Francis, who sucks enough in his own right. But generally speaking, it is not unreasonable to expect that nearly every visiting pitcher who takes to the mound will be visibly and hilariously affected.

The time has come to return Fenway Park to its glory days. After some lean, dark days following Boston’s two World Series wins in 2004 and 2007, the fans have finally returned—interested, engaged, “All In!!” at long last. The climb back to .500 after a 2-10 start was long and arduous. Now that the Sox have fulfilled their preseason billing, We Won’t Rest…nay, We Shan’t Rest…until the fist-rolling returns.

Our City of Bruins…Jerseys

Oh, look: Everyone’s sick of Boston fans, again.

Complaining and debating the worthiness of groups of sports fans comes with the territory any time a city is vying for a title—long before any trophies are handed out or banners are raised. Things only get worse once a championship is in the books.

Frankly, it feels flattering to be scrutinized so closely, to be loathed for being momentarily happy, to be repeatedly recognized as torch-bearers of our forefathers, originators of a new pronunciation for the word ‘fuck.’

But really, all this self-aggrandizing psychoanalysis of Boston sports fans is tiresome.

Perhaps the most amusing of all the recent anti-Boston viewpoints came last week in Jonah Keri’s article for GQ in which he informed Bruins fans that the majority of North America was rooting for the Canucks. Setting aside what “majority” means in this case (more than 2 percent, hopefully?), the rant itself was a complete waste of a talented writer’s time as it took generalization (a largely inaccurate one at that) to an embarrassing extreme just to arrive at a painfully obvious point:

No one in Canada wants you to win, of course. Not when a Canadian team might bring the Cup back home for the first time in 18 years.

But U.S. hockey fans aren’t behind you either. There’s none of that (slightly weird) national pride here. Flyers fans hate Boston. Rangers fans hate Boston. Casual hockey fans in Boise or Mobile are, at best, indifferent about Boston.

Ultimately, Keri should have known that absolutely zero Bruins fans read GQ. They’re too busy picking fistfights with the guy who just cut them in line at Dunkin’ Donuts and settling old grudges from their days in Kindahgahten.

Speaking of which, Mr. Destructo laid out a well-written, deeply analytical piece about Boston’s “Dynastic Sports Paupers”:

What has made the Boston sports fan so exceptional and objectionable is the willingness to cloak bullying in the mantle of suffering — as if the kid who pinned you to the floor in gym class and whaled on your face kept sputtering out words between tears and rained-down blows, saying, “I hit you… because I resent… your wholeness… Violence is something… I learned… from my dad.”

Grantland’s Chris Jones went the other way with the hatred by essentially condemning Bruins fans as incapable of enjoying a Stanley Cup as much as any fan base in the entire country of championship-starved Canada:

Winning might not feel possible this broken-glass morning; it might feel as though Tim Thomas will be smiling at us through our television screens forever. But it must happen, even if it’s not for another 86 years. Some year, however distant from now, the Cup will be ours again. And however happy Boston felt last night, however happy that city feels this morning, we’ll feel that a thousand times more, and we’ll feel it together.

Let’s go Toronto. Let’s go Montreal. Let’s go Ottawa, Edmonton, and Calgary.

Let’s go Vancouver.

Let’s go Winnipeg.

Now, that is a prototype display of unjustified superiority that has repeatedly been projected onto the Boston fan base over the last decade-plus. (The odd paradox of the article’s primary sentiment somehow being both provincial and anti-provincial at the same time is another matter.)

The problem with all these discourses is that their authors clearly either, a) associate on a friendly, informal basis with people who root for these teams, or, b) willfully consume media expressing all those feelings they seem to so rabidly resent (in other words, they read Bill Simmons columns). Otherwise, how in the world do they have such in-depth knowledge of Bostonians’ inner feelings?

For example, Kissing Suzy Kolber took the easiest of routes in mocking the lowest common denominator by quoting Dan Shaughnessy’s front page story in the Boston Globe as definitive evidence that Boston fans are douches. The problem is that even some of the most despicable locals got tired of Shaughnessy’s act years ago. In fact, these days the sole utility of Curly-Haired Boyfriend’s columns is the unfailing ability to raise the cackles of people looking for reasons to dislike fans of Boston’s professional sports teams.

This isn’t to imply that Simmons is even approaching Shaughnessy levels. But is it even necessary to point out that a 40-year-old man who still watches MTV reality television doesn’t exactly speak for any sort of status quo?

The beauty of the modern media age is choice. Nobody is obligated to subscribe to the @SullysFackinBeantownBeatdown Twitter feed if they don’t feel like it. Nobody is obligated to tune into the local news to watch a bunch of yahoos pontificating on which of the recent titles feels most significant to them, personally. That is a painfully stupid debate to digest even when one resides in the same city and cheers for the same teams.

So, really, by all means, change the channel. Avert your eyes. Navigate away from any and all gushing columns about what a great ride it was for some fan base other than your own. Stop watching obnoxiously low-quality YouTube videos made by fans who don’t cheer for the same teams you do.

The Bruins parade is on Saturday and things could get pretty ugly. Some of the fans in this town are so jaded and spoiled that they didn’t even bother destroying any property on Wednesday night. In fact, some of the same people will probably wind up sitting in Fenway Park tomorrow night still wearing their brand new Tim Thomas jerseys.

MLB to fine Matsuzaka for threatening to return in 2012

Commissioner Bud Selig runs a tight ship when it comes to ballplayers and silly proclamations.

It is, therefore, no surprise that his ears perked up when injured Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka told Boston media on Sunday morning that he is aiming to return to the team in 2012—after he is finished recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The offending remarks from the Japanese right-hander (“I’m sure I will come back to the Red Sox…”) were met with immediate alarm.

“We cannot allow active or former players to terrorize fans and jeopardize the popularity and integrity of our on-field product in any way,” said a spokesperson for the commissioner’s office. “We want to reassure our fans that, under various statutes in the sport’s rulebook (both written and unwritten), as well as relevant modifications to the Geneva Convention and our liberal interpretation of the New Testament, Daisuke Matsuzaka will not be permitted to pitch anywhere in North America ever again.”

Matsuzaka, who has indeed tortured Red Sox fans for years with his deliberate pace and varying degree of effectiveness, returned to Japan last week to finalize plans for reconstructive surgery.

Fans and media alike had presumed the end had mercilessly arrived until the pitcher returned to Boston and expressed optimism at a possible return.

“The very idea that fans could be subjected to not only minor league rehabilitation starts, but also late-season, drama-filled games at the major league level is really pretty upsetting,” Selig said in a statement Monday afternoon. “Four-plus seasons of his work have indeed been plenty. Enough is enough.”

The commissioner’s office expects to finish gathering information about the interview session and finalize Daisuke’s punishment later this week. The team-employed translator on hand at the time of the remarks will also be disciplined for his role.

A portion of the monetary fine that is collected will be donated to government agencies dedicated to ending Attention Deficit Disorder.

Boston fans were understandably distressed as the news spread throughout various news outlets.

“It’s obviously an idle threat, but you have to draw the line somewhere,” said Christopher Mayhew from Brewster. “I feel sorry that Daisuke is hurt and has to go under the knife, but I’m also ecstatic that he’ll be out of my life and that I won’t have to worry about buying tickets to a game he winds up starting.”

Nancy Thwylynski from Uxbridge agreed. “Just more pain for us New England sports fans, I guess. We really have to just continue to endure and pray for closure.”

Amazingly, even Matsuzaka’s agent Scott Boras is on board with what is expected to be a sizable fine for the remarks.

“They have to do something,” Boras said. “I am not prepared to compromise my integrity as an agent by having to put together a free agency proposal for this man. It would simply require too much manpower to attempt to construct a binder of metrics trumpeting him as a viable free agent. Even I know when to call off the dogs.”

Feeling Bruins Fans’ Pain: A Bostonian’s Guide to Proper Fan Righteousness

With the Bruins set to participate in the 2011 Stanton’s Cup Finale tonight, it seems like an appropriate time to extol the virtues of effectively admonishing idiotic bandwagon fans who are watching the team for the first time…as opposed to people like us, who began watching the B’s like two months earlier.

Geez, this kid gets AROUND...

As was the case with our mid-2000s Red Sox fan brethren, the resentment is justifiable and well-founded. Use these helpful tips to foil any party-crashers who are clearly at your local pub solely because they believe being shitfaced before the conclusion of the second quarter of a hockey match won’t be frowned upon like it is in the middle of January—a time when you and I can proudly say the team was already “firmly on our radar.”

-Memorize the roster from the relevant team’s previous flirtation with a championship…or buy a smartphone in which you can look up these facts on Wikipedia at a moment’s notice while pretending to urinate in the bathroom. When you are exiting the pisser, make sure it is not obvious you have been consulting your mobile device as your buddies will be highly suspicious of your sudden revelation that you were Reggie Lemelin’s biggest fan. If you sense your cover may be blown, quickly call attention to the fact that one of your pals never even bothered to check out the rack on that 40-year-old broad in the makeshift low-cut Andy Moog jersey.

-Go on the offensive. Like baseball, hockey is filled with a bunch of obscure, confusing rules that can quickly separate the hardcore fans from the latch-ons. A preemptive strike by which you challenge others’ understanding of key concepts such as “four checking” (an attack formation named after Bobby Orr) and “more men than is legally allowable on the ice at one time” (a rule the NHL just added two years ago) will help silence the true imposters before they can even think of questioning your commitment and understanding of the sport.

-Question others’ level of heartbreak following a crushing postseason collapse. Back before the Sox won it all, the gold standard for misery was either 1986 or 2003, depending on one’s age. Boston baseball fans who can’t work themselves up into a lather of tears over the discussion of those fateful collapses quickly prove themselves unworthy. For the Bruins, last year’s epic playoff failure against the Philadelphia Flyers provides a relevant litmus test for hardcore fans trying to weed out fair-weather fans. Make sure you never sway in your position that, although you were crushed, you always Believed with a capital Bruins logo “B” even after the team blew both a 3-0 series lead…and a 3-0 Game 7 lead. Remind people that you had your own “Believe” towels printed last summer well after everyone had already moved on to soccer.

-When necessary, bring into question the offending party’s sexual orientation in analyzing why they had not become fans sooner than last week. This tactic will wound the ego deeply and your position will be immediately bolstered by their unplanned defense of their manhood or womanhood. He (or she, as it were) will likely forget there is even a game going on altogether and you can be sure other patrons will take note of their misguided attention. Note that this technique can be transferred into any number of different situations in life in which you seek a quick resolution to an argument.

-Reference random games from the regular season. For example, if the Bruins fall behind despite outplaying the Canucks in the early going, have a list of games from the regular season in which the flow was frustratingly similar. This signals your clear devotion to the team from the very beginning of it all. No, the games referenced do not have to actually resemble the current game. But the newcomers won’t have the conviction to call you out on it. If they do, just point at the back of your jersey and tell them Ray Bourque wants you to “suck it.”

-Long outwardly for the good old days. Don’t be shy about vocalizing your displeasure at having to bump elbows with “fans” who don’t exhibit the proper level of hate for French Canadians. Adopt the stance that your deceased relatives would have never tolerated the level of sportsmanship that rules the sport of hockey these days and that all Canadian hockey players, other than the Canadian hockey players presently on the Bruins, are a bunch of fairies.

Our Stanford Cup Prediction: Bruins in 7…in a shootout.