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The week that was doesn't define Boston

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  July 1, 2013 10:59 AM

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Last week sucked.

It was indeed one of the worst weeks in Boston sports history. The Bruins gagged in epic fashion. Aaron Hernandez was arrested and charged with murder. The Celtics cleaned house by dealing Doc Rivers to the Clippers and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets. The delusional brass at NESN further detached itself with any connection it thinks it has with its audience by unceremoniously letting Naoko Funayama go.

Ugh.

It has been a trying year, considering what transpired on Boylston Street on April 15, but if 2013 is, as some have opined, the nadir of the Hub’s storied athletic annals, then I’ll take seconds and dessert.

The Patriots played in the AFC title game. The Bruins gave us hockey until Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Celtics withstood the loss of Rajon Rondo to make the playoffs.

And oh, yeah, the 50-34, first-place Red Sox have the best record in the American League.

Terrible. Cleveland weeps for us.

Yet Boston’s recent slate of unfortunate circumstances comes with glee for those across the country who are tired of our God-given right for championships entitlement. It even inspired local writer John Liam Policastro to oddly compare Boston’s sports struggles with the fact that there aren’t enough yuks in the clubs anymore. I suppose the theory behind Vice Magazine’s “The Good News About Boston's Horrible Week in Sports” is that because Boston teams have been so successful over the past decade that people feigned interest in other nightlife opportunities, passing over the comedy clubs and indie rock venues for the Cask N’ Flagon, where they could watch the game in HD. Or, something.

“As Boston makes the painful realization that its teams might suck again, perhaps they will also realize how many cool and exciting things used to happen in the city when there was hardly ever a post-season to get worked up about,” Policastro writes. “While it is sad to see people feel like "winners" based on other people's accomplishments, there is nothing sadder than watching losers pin their hopes onto other losers. Nobody wants to be Providence.”

Oh.

First of all, plenty of humdrum, generic cities (hello, anywhere in Connecticut!) would love to be Providence. Second of all, perhaps Mr. Policastro missed this?

“To me the descent into sports mediocrity bodes well for the city,” Policastro writes. “We might be taken back to a golden time when Boston was cool and no one really cared about sports.”

Sorry. It’s because Boston cares so deeply about sports that we get moments like Rene Rancourt leading the Garden crowd into the most inspired national anthem this town has ever witnessed. Good luck finding a similar case of raw emotion and pride at Nick’s Comedy Stop.

Sports are our public forum, the places we come together to celebrate, mourn, and … well, just be downright belligerent with our fellow fans. It’s not the Red Sox’ fault that the Rathskeller closed. It’s not Tom Brady’s liability that the Paradise hasn’t yet produced the next Lemonheads. You can blame Peter Chiarelli for Tomas Kaberle, but you can’t fault him for Dane Cook.

How is each supposed to be considered exclusive anyway? I mean, it’s not like the powers that be tore down Symphony Hall when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl because cultural attitudes immediately shifted. If you enjoy sitting at the bar watching a baseball game, you can’t be admitted into the Middle East and vice versa? Quick, everybody into your corners. Way to stereotype.

Policastro doesn’t include the Revolution in his arguments “because nobody else does,” but isn’t he kind of arguing his own point there? Shouldn’t a lesser-followed team be exactly what he’s looking for, the counter-culture prescription for the coolness factor that he so richly aches for? In the end, he comes off as a writer using the crutch of a bad week to mourn the loss of the Eliot Lounge. Maybe that was Stan Belinda’s fault.

To date, the One Fund, created for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, has raised an unprecedented $60 million. That’s a spirit of Boston that is reflected in the sports arenas, comedy clubs, nightclubs, taverns, restaurants, schools, offices, traffic lights, and T stops. That’s what defines Boston, not a week in which little went right. In a year in which success and tragedy have mixed, we have the rationale that a loss or a trade isn't on par with true sorrow, nor do we think sports are our end-all.

But they do indeed bond and heal us like nothing else.

Last week is over, but its circumstances will resonate for months and years to come. The Hernandez, Bruins, and Doc-KG-Pierce story lines aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. On the bright side, John Lackey pitches Tuesday. This is a good thing.

It’s been that kind of year. We’ll take it though.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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