Defending your Fan Base! A Boston Sports-Fan’s request to all Sports Fans.

As a sports fan, you live and die by your team. We all know and accept this. Your team is the best one, no one else should care about anything but your team, and every other team should just get out of the way of your team winning the championship. Your team deserves the best free agents and trades, and you can’t IMAGINE why a player would sign with that other team, just for a couple extra bucks (okay, maybe if you’re a realistic sports fan, that part you can always understand).

BUT – here’s something I’ve been forced to come to terms with since moving away from the city in which my fandom is centralized around: Your Fan Base has a national perception. And most likely it’s not great. This brings me to my question – can you defend your fan base as strongly as you defend your team? I’m leaving this open to all fan bases, as I know a ton that are members of the more prominent/loud/obnoxious/angry/passionate fan bases.

I’ll offer my two-cents about Boston fans. I know we are widely considered to be among the most obnoxious and passionate fan bases in the country. I’m not going to say “best” or “worst,” because that’s just a matter of opinion (and if you pay attention to Deadspin now, as they tear apart each NFL team before the season starts, every NFL fan base sucks and doesn’t deserve anything). Boston fans can be loud, Boston fans can be over-the-top, Boston fans can be extreme – we’re either going all the way this year or we’ll never win another game again. We’re superstitious and negative, but we’ll stand by the Patriots through “SpyGate,” defend David Ortiz and his PED allegations, cheer for Brad Marchand whenever he does anything that makes you as an opposing fan hate him. Kevin Garnett was a smack-talking bully on the court, but he was OUR smack-talking bully. (And now Brooklyn’s smack-talking bully). We’ll argue that Nomar was better than Jeter, and Pedroia is better than Cano. Williams was better than DiMaggio. Bobby Orr better than Gretsky. Bird better than Magic. Not sure how many of those arguments we win in other states.

You can call us obnoxious, you can call us homers, you can call us never-satisfied, you can call us championship-hungry, you can call us shitty fans. Most of you do anyways.  But at least we care about ALL of our teams. Boston is one of a few cities that can call themselves a Baseball town, a Hockey town, A Basketball town and a Football town without any detractors. Most cities can only claim ONE of those sports, maybe two. I live in Los Angeles currently – they’re definitely a Basketball town. No doubt about that. The LA Kings won the 2012 Stanley Cup. Not sure I’d call LA a Hockey Town. I just went to the 3-game series between the Red Sox and Dodgers. The Dodgers are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now – still not sure I’d call LA a baseball town. LA doesn’t even have a football team, so that’s out of the question.

Growing up, I just missed out on the Celtics’ era of greatness, too young to really follow the Bruins mid 80s-mid 90s unsuccessful playoff runs. The Patriots weren’t good during that stretch until they somehow made it into Superbowl XXXI in 1996, only to get crushed by Brett Favre’s Packers. I only remember being interested in the Red Sox as a child. Maybe because we’d go to Fenway once a season. Maybe because big-name players like Mo Vaughn, Roger Clemens and Jose Canseco were on the team. And Nomah! I followed the Celtics when Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker came onto the scene, then quickly lost interest in the NBA (something that seems to happen with me in waves). But as a Boston fan I always had a connection to those teams, even if they weren’t relevant or I didn’t pay attention to the league at the time. I’ve conjectured recently that depending on what era in a team’s history you grew up in, whether they are relevant for greatness or relevant for never-winning, that’s the team you’re most connected to. I grew up between the Red Sox’s 1986 World Series loss (missed it by a month, thanks Mom and Dad!) and the 2004 “Curse-Breaking” Champs. What happened in Red Sox land during that 18-year stretch? Oh just 5 playoff appearances/exits and 4 Yankees World Series wins. That puts me in familiar territory to any generation of Red Sox fan in the prior 86 years.

I grew up in the last 18 years of Red Sox franchise woes. We had the talent, we just never could put it together. But that’s the sentiment that overwhelmingly took over my young self as I grew into a Boston sports fan. That’s hard to shake. I’m not apologizing for every instance of a Boston fan complaining about a 3-game losing streak when we’re still in 1st place, or worrying about losing 1 game in the Stanley Cup playoffs because a couple years ago we lost 4 straight to lose the series after being up 3-0. But Boston fans are always VERY aware of our teams’ past history. Or recent history. No one would bring themselves to predict the 2013 Red Sox would be this good this far into the season, after the debacle that was 2012. It’s about managing expectations. Sometimes, we know we have a good shot – like the last 10 years of Patriots teams. We know when we don’t have a shot – like the upcoming Celtics season. Worrying and complaining is all part of what makes us Boston sports fans, and to a certain extent, sports fans in general. While the teams we root for may be different, we’re all sports fans at our foundation. We just want to see our teams do well and win championships. It’s something we have very little control over, but because it has such a community-bonding capacity, we let sports take over our lives and emotions. Our anxiety and stress levels shoot through the roof during playoff runs. We check standings every day as part of our morning routines. Sports are a water-cooler topic of conversation, before or after you’re done talking about the last episode of Breaking Bad. Nothing beats going to a live sporting-event; where else can you see 30,000-70,000 people from one community experiencing  the same thing? Non-sports fans like going to games for the environment. Maybe they’ll learn a thing or two from their super-fan boyfriend/girlfriend/family member/friend. Our biggest sports stars are legitimate celebrities.  We have a growing number of 24/7 sports television networks. It’s real-life drama, complete with scandals, redemption stories, “good guys” and “bad guys.” Being a fan is simply picking sides – something that you can’t really do in any other form of entertainment.

So that brings me to my request, fellow sports fans. Please comment, on here, on Facebook, on Twitter, wherever, with your thoughts on being a sports fan, and defending your particular fan base. Help me realize how similar we all are, we’re just rooting for different color jerseys.

**UPDATE – I was waiting for Deadspin to post their “Why Your Team Sucks” for the Patriots this season, and forgot they had real Pats fans write in and complain about themselves. So in the spirit of “Defending” your fan base (really the opposite), here’s some raw thoughts from real Deadspin readers/Patriots fans about why they hate other Patriot fans, and by virtue other Boston Fans.

Thoughts on Boston, Terror, and the Bigger Picture

An entry by my girlfriend, Anneliese Waddington, expressing her view on this week’s events:Image

This week has left me uneasy. I have felt worry, and I have felt anger. These feelings surface each time we experience a national tragedy at the hands of someone who intended to take innocent lives, and leave behind emotional and physical scars. Our nation as a whole has many scars. A flash of fear, of anxiety, when you board an airplane, or when you sit in a classroom, or when you settle into a seat at the movie theater, or when you pray in your place of worship. And now, when you gather as a community. That’s what hits hard about Monday’s bombings. This was not a routine flight, a routine day at school, a routine trip to the movies. This instills a fear of gathering together as a community in celebration. A day where we celebrate accomplishment, push ourselves to achieve something great, or simply cheer on thousands of people we will never meet, but who for that one day become our friends, our family. That is where my anger comes from. That the underlying intention was to destroy the safety of a community, to shatter at the most basic level, togetherness. In the aftermath, I have seen and witnessed an overwhelming sense of community, of the good people. And this gives me some peace. Our nation’s tragedies have shown us that there is more good than bad, and that no one is ever alone in their darkest moments. I am grateful to be a part of a country where we have this certainty. But then I think about nations where Monday’s horror is a daily occurrence. Where the victims become a number, not a face. Not a name to be remembered by 300,000,000 people, not a life to be celebrated. Simply a casualty. And as I see the enormous outpouring of support for those victims of Boston, of Newtown, of Aurora, I can’t help but think of humanity as a community. What makes the people of Boston any different from the people of Iraq, of Sudan, of Venezuela? A headline from the Huffington Post on Monday, April 15th, reads “Iraq Attacks Kill Dozens, Wound Over 100 In Several Cities.” And the headline goes by unnoticed by most, as we have become indifferent to headlines like these, because we see them daily, and we have adapted the ability to detach from it.  And when I think about it, that is a problem. I have no answer. I don’t know where the responsibility lies, where being part of a nation ends and being part of humanity begins. Millions of Americans spring to action when it’s one of our own, on our own soil. But I think it’s important, in times like these, to step back and take a look around. We are all human. We are all someone’s son, someone’s daughter, someone’s friend. For me, the Boston tragedy hits close to home, because I have been there, and been in those shoes. It could’ve been me. But the feelings surrounding it are no different than how I felt when I heard about the Aurora shootings, September 11th, the Newtown shootings. Because what I felt was for a fellow human being. For someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, friend.

To see so many people come together, to hear the stories of heroism, help to restore my faith in humanity after a tragedy. But I find myself wondering about the potential in this, why it’s brought out only when we are faced with a tragedy that touches something personal in us. Think of what we, as a nation, as humans, could accomplish if we applied this multitude of support for all of our fellow humans facing terror at the hands of others. It is easy to block it out, to ignore it, to distance yourself from what is happening beyond our borders. But is it right? Or does the burden simply become too great? I choose to have faith in the potential that someday the good can be spread equally. That our sense of community is defined by coming together not just as Bostonians, not just as Americans, but as humans. Humans who take pride in humanity. #WeAreAllHuman

We Are All Boston Patriots

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Like many other displaced Bostonians, the past 4 years Marathon Monday/Patriot’s Day has been a day I missed my hometown the most. Memories starting from when I was a little kid, driving to Wellesley or Newton to catch a glimpse of the city-wide event, cheer runners on as they trek toward their 26.2 mile goal, waiting in the heart of the city, to my college years, gathering on Beacon Street, cheering on the runners, some of whom may be friends or fellow college students, but in a much more mature, outdoor party-like atmosphere. I remember going to the 11 AM Red Sox game, peeking toward Kenmore Square as the game drew to a close, seeing the runners on their last few miles toward the end. Then going into Kenmore to cheer them on and give high fives to the tens of thousands of brave, strong-willed and no doubt tired people with numbers on their bibs.

That’s what Patriot’s Day in Boston is supposed to be about. That’s what it always has been about. And in the wake of yesterday’s horrible tragedies at that same finish line that for over 4 hours after the start of the race this year, and every previous year of the Boston Marathon, meant the final goal of those runners from all across the globe, I have been having a lot of trouble collecting my thoughts. Since moving to Los Angeles, Marathon Monday is a day every year as it approaches, I wish my schedule allowed for a quick extended weekend trip home, just to enjoy in the culture and festivities of the day with my fellow Bostonians, as if I never left. This year, despite the tragedy, I feel no different. I wish I could be there in Boston this week to support those affected by this tragedy by donating blood at the hospital, going to candlelight vigils and walking from BC to the Finish Line. I wish I could go to tomorrow night’s Bruins game and show the country and the world our unified Resilience, as President Obama so rightly characterized our city. I find myself struggling to focus at work, feeling so disconnected to the city I still consider my home. Hours staring at news coverage yesterday, and hours reading stories of the aftermath, hearing our sports radio hosts drop all coverage of sports and discuss how close this city is. Hearing personal accounts, including that of The Sports Hub/Toucher and Rich’s Rich Shertenlieb, who’s voice trembled on the radio as he explained how he doesn’t know what to do with the anger he feels after having to rush his family, including two young boys and a wife undergoing chemotherapy, out of his apartment building right where the second bomb exploded.

In a city where all you hear about is Sports, especially living in a city that holds one of it’s teams biggest basketball rivals, it’s hard to explain to people who aren’t from Boston, WHY Boston is such an incredible place. You hear people chide and berate the city and it’s sports fans for being ourselves – loud, obnoxious and passionate. And that’s all people know about Bostonians. But a tragic event like yesterday’s explosions really shows how tight-knit a community Boston is. Strange for such a large metropolitan area to seem so small and close, but living in the Boston area throughout all my pre-college life, and living in the city for 3+ years during college, I really felt the sense of community. I saw it most prominently after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 – a community of people coming together for a joyous occasion, a shared elation sparked from 86 years of disappointment and agony. You could see it in every subsequent Championship Parade during our decade of winning. A city where you may not always smile or high five the stranger you walk by, suddenly is all smiles and high-fives when a unifying event brings us together. Yesterday’s attacks wasn’t about sports, but it was centered around one of the Nation’s and certainly the city’s biggest sporting events. Sports brings people together – to cheer for a common team, or to cheer on runners going after a common goal like crossing the finish line after 26.2 grueling miles on city streets. And in a city where sports bears such a strong importance, it is no surprise to me how strong and resilient our citizens can be in the face of adversity.

Patriot’s Day is supposed to celebrate everything that Boston is about, and by extension, America is about (for those uninitiated, Patriot’s Day is celebrating those who fought in the first battle of the Revolutionary War, in Lexington and Concord.) We wouldn’t call ourselves Americans if that first battle never happened. And that’s what’s so hard to grasp about this attack – they didn’t just attack the Boston Marathon, they didn’t just attack The City of Boston. They attacked the IDEA of celebration Freedom and Patriotism. It makes me sad to realize that going forward, of course we will continue to host the Marathon every year, on Patriot’s Day. But now, there will be this tragedy looming over everyone’s associations of this day, a day that is supposed to be the best day the city has to offer. Sure, future Marathon’s will still have a sense of celebration and accomplishment, but the institution of Patriot’s Day will now forever be scarred. And I hate that such a happy and joyous event has to be associated with such sadness.

Boston, you’re my home.

*I would like to send out my condolences and thoughts to the 3 families who lost their loved ones in this tragedy; The Cambell Family, The Richard Family, and the Lu family in China.

Anniversary Season: Day Seven – Las Vegas/Hoover Dam, Nevada

Our seventh and final day on the trip took us on a quick detour through Nevada. Nothing could top the Canyon from yesterday, but the man-made sites of Hoover Dam and Las Vegas almost wowed me in a completely different way. Two vastly different spectacles of human construction and architecture, the Hoover Dam and Las Vegas are worlds apart, yet only about 45 minutes apart.

Coming from Arizona, we drove over the Hoover Dam, which happens to be the line between Mountain Time and Pacific Time. The traffic across the bridge is a bit heavy, as there’s a security check point and the cars have to move almost slow enough to turn back time, if the time zone switch didn’t take care of that already.

Once we got to the dam, we appeased the historians in us and took advantage of the $15 visitor center fee to learn some interesting things about the dam’s origins and construction. I won’t bore you with those details, let’s just say it’s amazing how impressive a structure it is considering the era it was made, and considering how much it positively affected a struggling economy. (see: the Great Depression)

Attempting to do it justice with regard to it’s massiveness, here’s a good picture from the visitor center. It’s too big to get a wide shot of, but this is the widest I could get.

Hoover Dam, Nevada

Hoover Dam

You can see some pedestrians walking across the bridge on the top giving some aspect of a scale.

After witnessing this man-made masterpiece, we drove down to Vegas to witness some other artificial spectacles in the middle of the desert. What other place could you see a Castle, a Pyramid, the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower within the same half mile of each other that’s not a video game?

We didn’t spend much time in Vegas, just a few hours of touristy sightseeing. We’re not big gamblers us Glasses. I had never been there, and I just wanted to see what it was all about. It was different but as outrageous as I was expecting, and eventually I’ll come back for more traditional Vegas outing.

After doing the crash course on the Vegas Strip scenery, we made the 4 1/2 hour drive to Los Angeles, our final destination on the road trip, and my future city of residence.

In Barstow, we caught back up with the old Route 66, and I almost bought out the store’s worth of memorabilia, but decided against it, tired from a week of driving, and wanting to finally get settled into my new life.

So that’s the end of the trip. We sat at the bar in the hotel on Friday night, amazed that we came so far, survived an iced storm, didn’t fall off either the Grand Canyon or the Hoover dam, and left lost Vegas only having lost the money we spent on a meal and the pointless “check out the back of this hotel” tram rides. This is definitely the kind of trip one never forgets, and luckily I have the pictures and now the hilariously insightful blog posts to help remind me.

Look for a longer reflection sometime late Sunday night, I’ll pour my soul out on what the road trip meant to me, and how I feel about the past year of my life. It will be heavy stuff, get your tissues ready.

I leave you with one final bonus picture, an “after” picture of what a week’s worth of driving cross-country will do to a brand new Honda Civic.

Dirty Car

Wash Me

Relax, it did get washed.

Previous Days:

Day Six – Grand Canyon, Arizona

Day Five – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Day Four – Lubbock, Texas

Day Three – Little Rock, Arkansas

Day Two – Memphis, Tennessee

Road Trip Begins

Anniversary Season: Day Six – Grand Canyon, Arizona

Day Six was a great day for sightseeing. As I hinted at yesterday, we went to one of, if not the most spectacular natural occurrences the nation has to offer. I was completely amazed, took about a thousand pictures, and was overwhelmed by the vastness and beauty of it. More on this later.

I should really say “Big Holes in the Ground, Arizona” as my title, because before seeing the Grand Canyon today, we stopped off at the Meteor Crater, a few miles off of I-40. The crater was created well before humans were around, and while it isn’t big enough to be the one that killed off the dinosaurs, it was quite large – almost a mile across and 550 feet deep. Obviously, there’s a visitor center with a museum and gift shop, but being able to walk up to the rim and look down into it was pretty great. In addition, at the highest point of the visitor’s walkway, you can get a great panoramic view of the entire area around the crater, which really isn’t much as it’s in the middle of the Arizona desert, but was peaceful and beautiful nonetheless. Here’s a bonus video of the panorama around the crater:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Panorama, Meteor Crater“, posted with vodpod

Onto the Canyon. As I said, I was floored by the natural beauty of this place. I really didn’t know what to expect except that it was large canyon. It was bigger than I expected, it was more beautiful than I expected, and it was even more peaceful than I expected.

There were so many pictures to choose from, (and I have even more from when my family came back in July), but here’s a good example of what amazed me about the whole scene –

Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon

This picture is a good example of the vastness of the scenery, as it includes a tree in the foreground for perspective. One good thing to note is how much the canyon itself looks like a painting – the rims at points are several miles apart, and like in this picture, depending on where you look it’s too big to even resemble a conventional canyon.

I really still can’t fully explain my feelings toward the Canyon. That’s why I took so many pictures, every visual was worth keeping to me, and while a picture doesn’t do it justice, it’s a great reminder of the initial amazement I felt upon first glimpses at these formations.

Tomorrow was our final day on the trip, where we sneak up to Las Vegas for a few hours before going down to our final destination of the City of Angels.

Previous Days

Day Five – Sante Fe, New Mexico

Day Four – Lubbock, Texas

Day Three – Little Rock, Arkansas

Day Two – Memphis, Tennessee

Road Trip Begins

Anniversary Season: Day Five – Sante Fe, New Mexico

Day Five saw much better weather, which allowed us to clear our way out of the large state of Texas. We eventually caught back up with 1-40 in a town called Santa Rosa, which happened to be our first run in with the famed Route 66, which ran from Chicago to Los Angeles, and was long considered “The Mother Road” for cross-country travelers. Since 1984 the route itself is no longer a nationally commissioned highway, and many parts of the original roadway no longer exist.

But fortunately for many fledgling Route 66 historians, like myself throughout the remainder of this trip, many of the businesses and tourist traps that lined the route are still in existence today.

Route 66 Diner, Santa Rosa, New Mexico

The Route 66 Diner in Santa Rosa, New Mexico

1-40 follows most of the old route through the South/Mid West, from Arizona to Oklahoma, and many parts of 1-40 have business loops that go through the town centers, instead of around them as many of the interstate highways do. A good portion of those “Business-40” loops were once Route 66, so we took some detours to view old diners and shops like this one above.

After Santa Rosa, we drove up to Sante Fe, which is the oldest city in America, dating back to the Pueblo Nation in the 11th and 12th centuries. There were some cool, old-looking buildings there, including the nation’s oldest Church, and oldest house.

While the drive up was a bit boring – a hilly road off of I-40, the ride down was fantastic. It was around sunset, and as we drove down the mountain where Sante Fe perches, and through Albequerque to get back on the interstate, we were facing a great sunset. Here’s a bonus picture, free of charge –

Sunset over I-40

Sunset over I-40

Our final destination on Day Five was another city on the old Route 66 – Gallup, New Mexico. We went for some real Mexican food, and then did a little exploring through the city’s main street, which was once part of the route.

Tomorrow we follow the old path of Route 66 into Arizona, and I finally get to see one of the country’s biggest and most amazing natural phenomenon. If you can’t tell what I’m hinting at, just come back and find out. Even if you know what I’m talking about, come back and read about it.

Previous Days

Day Four – Lubbock, Texas

Day Three – Little Rock, Arkansas

Day Two – Memphis, Tennessee

Road Trip Begins

Anniversary Season: Road Trip Day Four – Lubbock, Texas

Day Four of the Cross-Country road trip gave us a little bit of a scare. Yesterday after Little Rock, we attempted to go through Texas on I-20 instead of staying on I-40 and driving through Oklahoma and what was supposed to be a huge ice storm in the midwest. Unfortunately for us, the storm went down to Texas, and we barely made much progress past Dallas today. The roads were pretty horrible, the car would slip if we went over 40 mph. We made an executive decision to go as steady as we could and as far as we could until it didn’t make sense to drive anymore.

That decision took us through Abilene, a quiet town that almost seemed like a ghost town from a movie, but turned out to be the birthplace of Jessica Simpson. We stayed there for lunch and to wait out the storm, then headed back on the ice pack toward Lubbock.

Once we reached our destination, it was a bit earlier than any of our previous final destinations, but due to the in-climate weather, we decided to stay. We went to dinner, then caught “The Wrestler” at a local movie theater.

Lubbock is a college town – home of Texas Tech, (Not Texas A&M…I guess confusing those two is like confusing BU and BC) so despite it being slightly empty due to the ice, it resembled some of college towns I’ve been to over the years. Upon further research and observation, we found out that Lubbock is the birthplace of music legend Buddy Holly. In fact, the Buddy Holly Center is located here.

Buddy Holly Center - Lubbock, Texas

The Buddy Holly Center

Unfortunately, it was close when we left, but man if we ever find ourselves back in Lubbock, this is destination Numero Uno to visit for sure.

Tomorrow, Day Five, we attempt to travel out of Texas. Do we make it? Come back to find out!

Previous Days

Day Three – Little Rock

Day Two – Memphis

Road Trip Begins