Before I even start this topic, let me just say I know how obnoxious this will come off. I get it, Boston fans have been spoiled for the past two decades. Every one of our major sports franchises have won a championship so I shouldn’t be complaining. And I’m not complaining about the number of wins – I know exactly how blessed I’ve been over the past 20 years. In fact, in the history of sports I can’t think of a city that has seen such success over a 20-year period as Bean Town. But I have to say – the unprecedented success has a pretty big downside; every loss feels like a complete blindside – we never see it coming, and it’s so much worse.
For additional context, let’s start by breaking down exactly how great of a 20-year period it has been. Over the last two decades, the Patriots have won 6 Super Bowls, the Red Sox have won 4 World Series Titles (breaking an 86-year-old curse in the process), and both the Bruins and Celtics have gotten to hoist their respective championship trophies one time each. Beyond the title victories themselves, each of these teams have also made multiple appearances in the championship games or conference championships – so even when they didn’t win it all, they still got close enough to taste it. It’s been rare that Boston has seen a losing season and I’m hoping that’s a trend that continues deep into the 21st century.
But as I mentioned about, all that winning has a price, and it’s a tough pill to swallow. Boston fans now almost anticipate a visit to the championship game. We don’t simply expect to win, but in our core we know our teams are going to make a run at adding another banner even when all the evidence points otherwise. Last year the Patriots lost Tom Brady and half our defense took the year off due to CoVid- but if you were to ask any Pats fan, we still assumed we would be playing well into January and were likely heading back to the Super Bowl. We are filled to the brim with confidence because the wins have become almost an expectation, which makes the losses that much tougher – we truly believe our teams will win.
When the NBA was in the bubble, I definitely believed the Celtics were going to win the NBA title, and then had to sit by and watch the Heat shatter that dream. I felt the same way about the Bruins as did millions of others – they were the favorite at the start of the playoffs – but the Lightning sent us home in disbelief. Us hard-core Boston Believers expect to see our team win every game and take it very personally when they end up with the L. I don’t believe that other fan bases have that same confidence, and the friends I have who are fans of less victorious franchises support this theory. Part of me wonders if low or no expectations makes the losses easier to bear. Can you honestly tell me that Jets, Orlando Magic, Sabres, or Indians fans really believe they are going to win the championship each year? The truth is, most of these fan bases don’t even believe they are going to win some of their regular season games, much less post-season games if they happen to make it that far. Don’t get me wrong, they hope their teams are going to win, even pray – but they don’t believe it the same way a Boston fan does. They have seen their team blow a lead or just never show up too many times to truly have that “never going to lose” mentality.
Once again, I don’t expect people to feel sorry for me or the city of Boston. I just want people to appreciate the challenges that come along with so much winning. Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed said it best when he said “Heavy is the head that wears the crown” (yeah I know it’s originally a Shakespeare quote) and I couldn’t agree more. With all that said, I wouldn’t trade the 12 titles for anything and look forward to adding another couple banners this year (as I always do).