COMMENTARY | No city has enjoyed as broad of a success over the last 11 years like Boston.
Since early 2002, it has brought home three Super Bowls, two World Series, an NBA championship and the Stanley Cup. It's seen a near-perfect NFL season, a historic comeback and a multiple record-setting goaltender.
But which team can conclusively call this city theirs? The answer, almost indisputably, is the Red Sox.
Fair or not, the Red Sox have simply been around the longest. They predate the "Original Six" Bruins by 23 years and the second most-popular Patriots by 59. Though length of existence doesn't necessarily guarantee popularity, it doesn't hurt that the Red Sox won five of their titles before any other show came to town. Fans for life were made, and that fandom was passed down through the years. A whole new generation of Sox fans was born before the Bruins won their first Stanley Cup in 1929, the city's first championship outside of baseball.
Save for a couple weeks in April and September, the MLB's regular season exists unimpeded by any other major sport. Summer means baseball, and Sox fans can generally have a great time at Fenway without the fear of missing another big matchup. And even when other important sporting events are going on, like Monday's Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals between the Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, the teams are supportive of one another, updating the scoreboard with each goal.
While Bobby Orr may be the best defensemen to ever play the game, and an argument can certainly be made for Tom Brady as the best quarterback, the Red Sox's all-time roster is reminiscent of one for all of MLB. Babe Ruth is a household name, even for those who are not sports fans. Ted Williams is arguably the greatest hitter to ever play the game. Even modern-day greats like Roger Clemens have passed through Boston. Everybody likes a team with great players.
Then there are simply beloved players, like Tim Wakefield. Very good at times, but never great, Wakefield was nevertheless a massive fan-favorite in Boston and even around the league. Between playing into his mid-40s, his knuckleball that was at times unhittable, and being known as one of the most charitable players in all of MLB, "Wake" drew fans of all teams to cheer for him while he was on the mound.
And the legends don't just extend to the players. Fenway Park itself is perhaps the most iconic venue in all of sports. Its unique "Green Monster" separates Fenway from other parks and other cookie-cutter arenas. It's become a landmark and has remained largely untouched.
Through Thick and Thin
Though recent seasons have not been kind to the team--2012 saw the team post its lowest win total since 1965--the fans haven't gone anywhere. If their recently ended 820-game sellout streak is any indication, Red Sox fans will support their team no matter how bad they are.
Then, of course, there was the drought -- 86 years of failure is a long time for apathy to build, especially with moments like Bill Buckner in 1986. Yet the fans persisted.
Shane Victorino is just the latest in a long line of MLB players who have come to Boston for the atmosphere and support by the fans. It wasn't even about the money; he said he left some on the table to sign there.
That Week in October
Before the Red Sox broke their "curse," they were the consummate underachiever. They typically had one of the most talented teams in the league, but could never put it all together.
And then, for my money, the greatest comeback in all of sports happened. Much of the New York Yankees dynasty from the late-'90s remained, and a nation got behind the "underdogs." As Dave Roberts stole second, a city collectively held its breath. With so much riding on one 90-foot sprint, nothing else in Boston mattered.
The parade that followed a couple weeks later completely dwarfed that of the Patriots' celebration by almost three times. If there was ever any doubt as to which team this city belonged to, it was erased that day.
Andrew Luistro has followed the Red Sox for over 20 years.
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