Sunday, June 01, 2008

Boston = Titletown USA

As the Celtics prepare to take on the Lakers in the NBA Finals, there can be no doubt as to what is the greatest sports city in America now.

This sight from the Red Sox ring ceremony, featuring the Boston trophies from all four major sports, sums it all up

Every summer ESPN, the worldwide leader in aggravating product placement and overbearing, lowest common denominator programming, runs a series of special promos designed to fill the time when baseball is the only active major sport.

A few years ago it was the inane "50 States in 50 Days", then it was the sophomoric "Who's Next?", followed by the equally moronic "Who's Now?"; many presumed this summer's installment would be "Who the F- Cares?"

Instead this year the geniuses at the WWL have come up with a different country-unifying gimmick called "Titletown USA", in which the nation votes on what city or town it thinks is the best in all the land. Twenty municipalities will make the final list, and potential winners include sports hotbeds like Shelby, North Carolina, Boise, Idaho and Ottawa, Ohio.

Well don't bother voting people because after the Boston Celtics defeated the Detroit Pistons in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals Friday night, I am hereby declaring the contest officially over.

With the 89-81 victory the Cs made it back to the finals for the first time since 1987 when Larry, Kevin and the Chief, the original Big Three, ruled the parquet at the original Gahden and played in their fourth championship of the decade.

And when you combine this stellar rebound season of the Cs with the 3 championships the Pats have earned this decade plus the two World Series titles the Sox have won in the past four years, there is no doubt that the city of Boston, located in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the heart of New England, is indeed the Hub of the Sports Universe.

When Boston and LA tip off the 2008 Finals this Thursday night it will evoke a flood of memories in native New Englanders over the age of 25 like myself, who grew up in an era when all the Boston sports teams were at or near the top of the heap.

Along with the four title appearances and three championships the Celts won in the 80s the Sox went to the World Series in 1986 and made the playoffs in 1988 and 1990, the Bruins made the playoffs every year and went to the Stanley Cup Finals twice (88 & 90 also), and the Pats, although they had some rough seasons, still made the playoffs three times in the decade and played in one memorable (i.e. forgettable) Super Bowl in 1986.

In other words for Bostonian sports fans it was the "me" decade, when all of our franchises ruled the Earth, a happy, carefree time we all took for granted because we didn't know any better.

Until the 90s came.

In that decade we all began to realize that sporting success could be as fleeting as an American idol winner's career as none of the major teams made any waves in the postseason:

-In 1996 the Bs began a stretch of missing the playoffs in 6 of the next 10 seasons

-the Pats made the playoffs just three times and got spanked in another Super Bowl before ending the decade with a 1-15 debacle season

-the Sox sucked so bad that even though they made the playoffs three times they lost to the Cleveland Indians every time, a fact that pissed them off so bad they had to go and get Manny Ramirez just to exact some sort of revenge on the Tribe

-and the Celts began their downward spiral when the lost the Big Three to age and injury (Larry in '92, Kevin in '93 and Chief in '94), and the death of superstar-in- the-making Reggie Lewis to a fatal heart condition in 1993 sent the franchise into a tailspin that had continued up till this very season.

But now it's a new millennium, and so far the Boston boys are back and better than ever. Well, except for the Bs, but their time will come.

Two titles for the Sox obliterated an 86-year-old curse, three rings for Tom Brady cemented him as a legend and Hall of Famer despite his weaselly coach, and now Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and the rest of the gang Green are letting us hop into our IROC Z and party like it's 1987.

So get out your Member's Only jacket, crank up your Whitesnake cassette , pop a copy of Fatal Attraction in the VCR and enjoy the ride.

Because Boston is officially Titletown again, whether the rest of the nation likes it or not.

Sorry, Shelby.