Boston certainly won’t tuck its tail between its legs as a collective fan base. Boston is in the minds of many, the preeminent “sports city” in America. It’s a gritty place, or blue-collar enough to at least give off an air of playful toughness. If it wasn’t in doubt before, Boston’s strength (or at least the strength of it’s sports fans) will certainly be tested after a sudden and demoralizing defeat in game six of this year’s Stanley Cup final, and the ongoing investigation into the alleged murder of Odin Lloyd by one Aaron Hernandez, former Patriot’s tight end. A rough spell would be an understatement. The past week’s events have been a one-two punch to the heart of a city still recovering from one of the most frightening attacks on U.S. soil in some time. Boston certainly won’t tuck its tail between its legs as a collective fan base. So where does a bruised city turn in light of the recent barrage?
Talk about a bright side for a city that’s just begun to nurse this past week’s wounds.With the ‘Curse of the Bambino’ shaken, the Red Sox are currently 3.5 games ahead in the AL East, arguably the most stacked division in Major League Baseball (I mean seriously, literally every team is at, or over .500 at the time of my writing this). Clay Buchholz currently leads the entire Major League pitching corps with a sickeningly low 1.78 era, Dustin Pedroia is back to his old ways as “The Destroyah,” batting .319 with 5 home runs and 49 RBIs, and Rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias is on a downswing with a ridiculous .417 batting average. On a five-game win streak, the ‘Sah-ks’ will look to sweep the cellar-dwelling Blue Jays with just a few series remaining before the All-Star break. Whew. Talk about a bright side for a city that’s just begun to nurse this past week’s wounds.
Another source of possible respite for the overwhelmed Boston fan might be found from an unlikely face in a familiar place, Gillette Stadium’s other tenants: The New England Revolution. I said before that Boston was a “sports city.” Gritty, etc. Remember? Okay. Admittedly, Boston is not a soccer city. The 3,000 fan drop in average attendance at Revolution games from last season to the present reflects that clearly. Yet somehow, in spite of the empty seats the team is welcomed by when they walk out into the monolithic home of the New England Patriots, the Revolution have churned out surprisingly good results this year. They sit just three points (one win) back of a playoff spot in the ten-team eastern conference, with a game in hand over most of the teams they play. The team is 5-2-1 in their past seven games, and approaching the weakest part of their schedule.
Fans of US soccer have the chance to witness something truly remarkable.Fans of US soccer have the chance to witness something truly remarkable: the birth of a sports league that has no intention of dashing it’s chances at success. The minimum salary has been raised significantly from past seasons, and with it, the tenacity of younger players eager to make an impact for their clubs. The MLS is, in the words of U.S. Nation Team selection Benny Feilhaber, “more physical than the Bundesliga,” the German “premier” league from which the two finalists of this year’s UEFA Champions League were birthed, where Mr. Feilhaber played two seasons with Hamburger SV from ’05 to ’07. Unique to MLS is the onus being partially on the fans to make a difference in the team’s output. With more support from the community, the Revolution would be able to do what teams like Seattle and Portland have done: buy more talent and sustain success. If you need more incentive to join the build, the Revs organization knows how to throw a party: tons of low ticket price packages, fireworks after most games, and one of the more entertaining supporters’ sections in MLS, “The Midnight Riders.”
Sport provides many with a tonic that just can’t be reached by other means, whether played or watched…Heartbreak and shock aren’t things normally associated with sport fandom, at least not in the brutal succession Boston fans have had to endure. The city has leaned heavily on its sports teams in the past, and with the recent success of the Red Sox and Revolution, it will almost certainly continue to do so. Sport provides many with a tonic that just can’t be reached by other means, whether played or watched, especially after events that can be difficult to swallow. Sometimes we, the supporters of the city’s finest athletes, need a spoonful of sugar to help. Thankfully, two great teams are within reach for all of us here in the Boston Area, hoping that we’ll allow them to carry our burdens, if not just for the night.