Friday, December 28, 2007

Baked in Beantown


Post #35 Topic: Boston Glee Party

So I’m doing the unthinkable. I am returning to Boston for new years for a 3rd time in four years (last new years was spent in Israel). Several people have asked me why I insist on venturing back to Boston, a city that has left with me more black eyes then memories (in all fairness my own actions precluded said memories). The answer is somewhat complex, however, I will do my best to explain it within the confines of this here posting (although there aren’t actually any confines and I could potentially write forever… keep reading below to see if I actually do!!!!)

Boston is a fun city. I can’t stand Boston. Nor can I stand its people. I can’t stand its annoying accents, its terrible pizza and Chinese food, its antiquated public transportation system, its Harvard and M.I.T. pompousity, its “old-american” markets charging “new-american” prices, and most of all I can’t stand duck tours; seriously, Duck Tours f-in piss me off.

Strangely enough, its all of these nuances that keep my coming back year after year. There’s something enjoyable about getting popped in the face by a southie from Harvard in front of a bad Chinese restaurant when the duck tour patrons are driving by pointing at your bloody face. Only when all of these elements combine, does the synergy of misery propel my sentiment towards the city up from distaste to… MMMMMM tasty.

But no, the real reason is that a majority of my life’s strongest acquaintances live in Boston and New Years and other faux holidays give us a great excuse to relive our college days of debauchery. Here’s how our night will play out: At 7 PM we will order food, most likely greasy. Several toilet jokes later we will begin drinking, probably with some beer, but quickly morphing into rum and cokes. Soon thereafter I will wake up on a couch at 2 pm with falic symbols drawn all over my face; oh how I love Boston.

But this is a sports blog, not a DC’s personal life trials and tribulations blog, and you would be foolish to believe that I would sell my devout followers short of their expected dose of sports knowledge, especially given the enormous layoff preceding this entry.

So why then do I scribe about Boston? Well turns out that this year there is a little extra treat awaiting me upon my disembarking the luxurious Fung Wah Drug Runner bus. This year, the night of the Saturday upon which I arrive, the Patriots will seek to finish the regular season 16 and 0 and become only the second team since the merger of the AFC and the NFC to do so.

But DC, New Years isn’t until Monday, why not stay in NY and watch the game there? The answer is the basis for this very blog entry.

There is something exhilarating about watching an athletic accomplishment in the making on TV. There is something even more special about watching it in the city from where the team originates.

I’m no Patriots fan, in fact I’m hardly a dedicated football fan. I do however know enough about the sport and the Patriots to understand the significance of the degree of perfection they are prepared to reach. But not being a Patriots fan, it is likely that if I were to watch it here in NY, my personal interaction with the game would come to an end as soon as time expired. I would then retreat to my trusty computer and await the onslaught of e-mails from my Bostonian friends telling me how great it is to be in Boston. Well if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

By watching the game in Boston, I will better appreciate every different turn the game takes. If I were to watch the game here, the people with whom I would be surrounded would likely experience a feign in interest as the game progressed. By going to Boston, the exact opposite will occur. In Boston, every kick-off will carry the potential of a return, every pass the possibility of a pick, every run the ability to invoke a “bumbling, rumbling, stumbling” remark from Chris Berman come that eve’s sportscenter.

Have you ever been to an arena for a sporting event, only to find your team out of the game before the half-way mark? It truly sucks to be in those situations. You start watching your clock wondering if you’re going to be out early enough to squeeze in some “other plans” for after the game, you feel cheated for having spent 8 dollars on a beer, you get annoyed at the guy sitting next to you that’s sleeping, and the other that’s insanely obese and physically spilling on you.

Consider a change of scenario. Now your team is winning and playing some of their best _____ of the season. Suddenly time is going too quickly and you’re worried that the game is almost over. You start guzzling more 8 dollar beers so that you can take considerable part in the post-game celebration and mocking of the losing team’s fans. The guy next to you is not sleeping, but rather standing and screaming in support of your team (or if you’re really lucky, for his losing team), and the fat guy went from annoying you to injecting you with that extra sense of joy that only people who really enjoy their food seem able to exude. The truth about sports is that an event is only enjoyable as those fans with whom you are watching it!!!!!!!! (See Bible)

Watching a game with involved, interested and captivated fans is the one true necessity to a “great sporting experience”. A real sports fan can distinguish between good fans and bad fans within minutes upon entering the stadium.

Case in point, take the reactions of three different groups of people watching the Orangemen win the National Championship in 2002.

1. The people who didn’t go to cuse that were watching the game outside of cuse: These are the people that call you after the game to say, “cuse won!”, as if you hadn’t noticed. They’re happy that they won but quickly change the topic to the next break or vacation or girl or what have you. It is clear that these people missed out on a large part of the winning experience.

2. The people who didn’t go to cuse but were at cuse watching the game: These people have no allegiance to the team. Prior to the tipoff they don’t even know who the star players are, the specific ups and downs of the regular season or the chances that the team winds up victorious. However, during the game they get sucked in. The energy of a room full of people supporting their team en route to a championship is contagious, and soon, whether they choose to or not, these “temporary fans” become immersed in the amazement that is unfolding on the high-definition screen in the center of the over-crowded room.

3. The people who went to cuse and were watching the game at cuse: These are the people that make the game fun. They’re constantly cheering, hooting, high-fiving, eating, drinking, and cheering some more. They have “fives” on a seat but seem never to remain seated for more than a minute at a time. These people are the refs, the coaches, the players, the fans, the commentators and the analysts all in one. Its these people that make the viewing experience memorable. It is on these people’s faces that a newcomer fan can truly appreciate just how much is truly on the line.

My return to Boston will seek to combine two of these prototypes, 2 and 3. The two will be me. Where I otherwise would have allowed the game to pass without much emotion, I will now be smack dab in the middle of a jungle of fans waiting in anticipation of what can not be considered less than a remarkable achievement.

The three(s) will be my friends. These guys are true Patriots fan, and therefore like the day cuse won their title, they will be writhing with every tackle. On a side note, I love watching people on couches call time-outs for their teams. Yelling time out is not enough, rather these crazy-fans must actually make the T symbol with their hands… This is both hilarious and symbolic; symbolic of just how involved a home-city fan can become in their teams successes and failures.

Applying my Syracuse formula, the excitement coursing through the room will infect me. I will start to understand exactly how crucial every minute of the game is to the end goal. It will become nearly impossible for me not to become nervous, playing out a million different scenarios in my head, disagreeing with calls and yelling at Randy Moss for not seeming to be trying only to be silenced by some acrobatic leap that humans normally don’t make.

With every Patriots score I will smell the chances of remaining undefeated. With every Giants stop I will insist that “they’re not going to do it, they’re not going to win”. Given the alternative, watching the game on my couch with a few friends who couldn’t care less about the outcome of the game, I think that my positioning (in Boston) will be conducive to an ultimate sporting experience.

With such a journey necessarily comes the spoils. How do we as sports fans define our dedication to our favorite sports or our home teams, or our allegiance to the world of athletic competition? I would guess that all fans have their own unique way of chronicling their evolution as fans. For me, the most picturesque way to define your life as a fan of sport is through specific memories of specific milestones one is fortunate enough to attend.

Amongst my collection of unforgettable sporting experiences: Wayne Gretzky’s last game, and the game where he broke the scoring record with ASSISTS ONLY, watching Cuse win the championship while school was in session, witnessing Messier’s first return to MSG, watching the Rangers win the Stanley Cup outside of the garden but with my own team of fanatics, and perhaps even watching Boston win their first world series in ages in a house full of Bostonians, watching Patrick Ewing’s last game as a Knick in the Garden, and (depressed) watching the Yankees beat the Mets in the Subway Series. This list is young and naive, in need of some variety and some more drama. The list needs some football or basketball, some new cities and some great athletes. Often times these experiences are unplanned, but happen as a matter of coincidence or, “being in the right place at the right time”. Fortunately, with this new years celebration comes an opportunity to expand my portfolio of great sporting performances experienced amongst the fans most touched by the “special” happening. That is of course, unless the Giants manage to defeat the Patriots, which I assure you will be equally as “special” as the Patriots winning their 16th regular season game. Watching a team undertake a historic accomplishment can not hold a candle to the emotional impact of a historical collapse. So I’ve left a spot in my album of great sports moments with an incomplete headline reading… “The Patriot (Win/Lose, sealing the fate of their season-long attempt at perfection). While I won’t admit which result I would prefer… Man do I hate Boston.

Other Notes:

Man vs. Wild sucks. This guy is a real sally. How come when the show is on we never see the deadly crocodiles or sharks or snakes?

The Stampeders are often ignored despite having paid homage to a delicious snack: Like a country mornin', all snuggled in dew. Ah she's got a way to make a man feel shiny and new. And she sing in the evenin', oh familiar tunes. And she feeds me love and tenderness and macaroons

Monopoly is really a sweet game. Seriously, if you haven’t played it in a while do yourself a favor and pick up the dice. Oh, and be the shoe.

Chronicles of Narnia sucked.

How come everyone thinks they’re an interior decorator? If you want the painting to be on the wall then put the painting on the wall… Don’t tell me how it goes well with the other elements of the room. It’s a freakin painting.

You know what really makes a party? Fluffy whip. But not when you put it on stuff.

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