Boston has always had a hard time making itself seem like a rational sports town to people who don’t live in, well, Boston. Too loud, too sure of itself, too sanctimonious, all too eagerly obnoxious about too many things. Boston was just tough to love, for all the love it seemed to shower upon itself.
Hey, perception doesn’t have to be reality. It just has to seem like it.
And suddenly, all that is gone. Boston seems all too human, all too vulnerable, all too in need of the comfort of the rest of the nation. One of its most prized sporting traditions has been shredded, one of the things it held closest to itself and loved beyond all outworlder understanding has been soiled, and its strength has been tested in the most horrid way imaginable.
[GALLERY: Explosions rock Boston Marathon]
Which frankly stinks. It shouldn’t have taken such a horrific event to bring us closer to Boston and Boston closer to us. But it worked that way with New York 12 years ago, and it worked that way with Atlanta in 1996. We’re good at casual disdain in America, but when crisis strikes, it strikes us all, and stylistic differences dissipate in an instant. We are Boston now, and Boston is us. Especially when we see all the people who ran toward the explosions to help the people who couldn’t run away from them. That’s some serious Bobby Orr-Bill Russell-Tom Brady-David Ortiz cool right there.
Of course, it would be better if the bombs hadn’t exploded on Boylston Street, and we could continue to stereotype Boston to our hearts’ content. But they did, and we are now brought together by a common sentiment:
Yes, we are Boston, and Boston is us. It feels a lot better saying that than it would have two days ago. And it will feel good for a long time to come.
Oh, and Vin Scully must work forever, if only for days like Jackie Robinson’s birthday. He can retire when we’re damned good and ready to let him retire.
By the way, that retching sound you heard in the wake of the lawsuit that helmet maker Riddell lost in the wake of a high school football player’s football-related brain damage was indeed Roger Goodell’s. You could tell because it had that Yorkshire boilermaker-cum-lawyer sound to it, and included phrases like “No comment, do you hear me? Anyone asks, it’s no comment!”
So it’s looking a bit more like Warriors-Nuggets after all, and that means two things: Thin air, and no river to walk along. As opposed to a place that hasn’t made the Warriors smile since Clinton was President, and where the breathing difficulty is caused by Tim Duncan and a roster that looks a lot less like the Austin Toros in a week making them hyperventilate.
Either way, the breathing will be unpleasant. The basketball, on the other hand . . .
And finally, John Branch of The New York Times covers sports in the Bay Area for the paper. He also just won a Pulitzer Prize for his role in the paper’s multimedia coverage of a fatal avalanche. I’m completely fine with hating his living guts for doing this, unless he wants to buy me a beer and beg my forgiveness.