A major topic on our radio show for the past couple of years (you’d think I could resist the shameless advertisement) has been our dissatisfaction with the scores of bandwagon Red Sox fans that descend upon Fenway Park on summer nights. “Red Sox Nation” has become a monster, and the team churns out heaps of merchandise and signs the biggest free agents to feed the ravenous “pink hats.” Luckily, the Sox win, and win regularly, keeping any possibility of a fan revolt at bay.
In a related story, the Celtics nabbed Shuttlesworth and Garnett in the offseason and started beating the crap out of the opposition en route to “flavor of the week” status here in Boston, even in the midst of another Red Sox World Series victory, an incredible Patriots season, BC making a run to the ACC Championship Game - hell - even another successful campaign for the Revs. In many respects, it’s great. The Garden is packed; the atmosphere around Causeway Street has shown marked improvement, and friends no longer introduce me to others as “the last miserable Celtics fan I know.”
On the other hand, the bandwagon carries just as many pitfalls. Winning breeds outlandish expectations, and after this 11-2 start, people are going off the deep end about this team, grumbling when they’re not on top of the Power Rankings of every major sporting publication and buying cigars and champagne for next summer.
But I’m not going to chastise Joe Fan here. It’s okay if you want to pee yourself about the Celtics. You deserve to have a good time, like a drunk BC chick at Fenway singing Neil Diamond and doing the wave. Go ahead.
All the while, we’ve got the overmatched Boston sports media, who just figured out we have a professional hoops team in this city, goading the public into a frenzy.
“But Fox,” Cindy Lou Yahoo says, “you fell for it, too. You predicted the Celtics would make the Finals against the Suns this year.”
What the heck else was I supposed to do? For the first time in my adult life, both my head and my heart agreed that the Celtics could more than potentially win their conference. So I went with it. The East, even now with this Orlando team, is still anybody’s game. But I stand by the fact that Phoenix, San Antonio, Dallas, and Utah have better rosters, for one, than Boston and the benefit of having playoff experience as a unit to boot. The Celtics haven’t done anything yet. A 60 win team? Show me. A squad that can create “matchup problems” in the playoffs? I certainly don’t know how the C's can handle Deron Williams feeding Carlos Boozer from the high post. We haven’t seen the teams play. We haven’t even seen the Celts go against the supposed cream of the Eastern Conference, the Pistons, yet (I’ll be there December 19th).
The Celtics have beaten Toronto (8-7), Denver (9-6), and the Lakers (8-6). All the other teams they’ve defeated have been under .500. And the Celtics have been doing it in their own backyard, posting a 7-0 mark at home. If you look past Christmas, they actually face a pretty unfavorable schedule, peppered with worthy adversaries amidst tough road stretches, topped off by hellish Western swings in February and March before the kittens they’ve already neutered come back to the yard in April.
So no, I haven’t fallen for it hook, line, and sinker. Sometimes we need a dose of reality in this town. Some people decide to do it by criticizing Doc Rivers - me, I’m serving a non-alcoholic blend of Celtics Cuckoo Juice until at least after the New Year.