By Christopher Gabriel, Blog Harbor
75. Does the number mean anything to you? Surely it does to some people. For example, it’s important to LEGO. This past August 10th, they celebrated their 75th anniversary. Esquire magazine will be celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. And the 2007-08 sports calendar has the Southeastern Conference celebrating, yep you guessed it, their 75th anniversary. If you dig deeply enough, you’ll find a whole host of things where the number 75 is significant.
It is also a benchmark number shared by the cities of Boston and New York.
When you combine the number of professional sports championships between the two cities, you get an astounding 75. And if you count the Giants NFL championships prior to the Super Bowl and those of the New York Nets back in the ABA, tack on six more. In two weeks, the number goes to 76 after either the New England Patriots or the New York Giants win the Super Bowl.
Consider their 75 banners for a moment. When you add up the championships from Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit, Baltimore, Atlanta and Dallas — if you’re scoring at home, that’s more than 30 teams — it still falls short of your Boston/New York combo platter. And if you remove Los Angeles, go ahead and insert about 15 other cities; the total number of titles still sits below 75. But this isn’t about numbers or stats. Rather, it’s about Boston and New York and the upcoming Super Bowl. More to the point, which city is the lesser of two evils that will receive your rooting interest?
I lived in New York for many years and have spent more time in Boston than I can remember. I love both cities; if you’ve never been to either of them, what are you waiting for? Go. Culturally, there aren’t many cities that offer more than New York or Boston. I give New York the nod there, with so many museums, Broadway, Lincoln Center . . . the list is endless. For sheer beauty, it’s Boston in a runaway. The Charles River, Cambridge, Boston Common, Back Bay . . . Boston has an almost Charles Dickens-like feel to it. But sooner or later, when you’re talking about these two cities, the discussion invariably goes to sports.
For those of us who aren’t natives of either city, the whole Boston-New York thing has become just this side of nauseating. At times, does it seem the only two teams in Major League Baseball are the Red Sox and the Yankees? And if there’s a third that anyone ever talks about, it’s the Mets. There was a time when every Celtics-Knicks game found its way onto national television even though there were years a Harvard-Columbia game might have been more interesting. And for those fans who actually follow hockey, yours truly being one of them, the Bruins-Rangers rivalry goes back to the NHL’s original six. Many of their games in old Boston Garden and Madison Square Garden were legendary, if only for the fights both on and off the ice.
When you consider the choices you now have on cable, can the Boston-New York Channel (BNY) be far off?
And now with Super Bowl XLII on the horizon, your Boston-New York Hyperbole Threshold is about to be tested like never before.
There just doesn’t seem to be any getting away from Boston-New York. Many in the national media will insist the whole nature of the rivalry, irrespective of the sport, captures the imagination of America. If there’s ever been a more ridiculous, shortsighted notion, that America lives for Boston-New York, I’ve not heard it. The USA defeating the Soviet Union in Lake Placid captured the imagination of America; I wouldn’t be so quick to attach the same phrase to Boston-New York.
Then again, maybe I’m mistaken. Maybe I’m completely out of touch. Why, I bet the good folks in Bozeman, Montana, and Joplin, Missouri live and die for Boston-New York sports match-ups. I’m told places like Eureka, Nevada, Almena, Kansas and Chickasaw, Alabama flat-out shut down when Boston plays New York in anything.
Quite honestly, I can’t imagine how life outside of Boston and New York ever manages to sustain itself unless we are feted with a sporting event involving teams from those two cities . . . playing against each other, of course.
Now don’t misunderstand — I’m not saying the Patriots-Giants game won’t be worth watching. Absolutely it will. And the storylines are plentiful: The Patriots (my one-year adopted team to once-and-for-all put an end to hearing from Mercury Morris and the 1972 Dolphins) are going for 19-0 history, can the Giants continue their magical run as an underdog, wild card team and win the Super Bowl, Eli Manning trying to go back-to-back with brother Peyton, Tom Brady inching closer to the “greatest quarterback of all time” domain . . . it doesn’t get much better than this. And yet, there’s still that damn Boston-New York thing.
So who do you root for? Well, let’s consider all the variables from the other sports, before we get to the Pats and Giants, that weigh into your Super Bowl selection:
Most baseball fans always hated New York because the Yankees have won enough championships to retire the trophy. And the Mets . . . well, Gary Carter once played for them. Enough said. But now with the Red Sox becoming a dominant franchise, you’re torn, aren’t you? There’s no clear option here to tip the scales.
It was easy to hate the Celtics of Bird, Parrish and McHale. They were arrogant and they won championships. Thankfully, they retired and so did the franchise’s winning ways . . . until this year. Now they’re great again so you give the nod to New York, right? Well, hold on a minute junior . . . two words for you: Isiah Thomas. He alone is reason enough to still be sitting on the fence.
Surely hockey will tip the scales. The Bruins and the Rangers . . . honestly, does anybody care?
Lest you think I’ve forgotten about the Islanders, Devils and Nets, I haven’t. But in the annals of the whole Boston-New York thing, they’re simply not relevant. And the days of Bill Parcells and the Patriots-Jets . . . outside of either team’s fans and ESPN’s Chris Berman, nobody really gave a damn.
So as you total up your Boston-New York scorecard desperate to figure out who to root for in Super Bowl XLII, consider the following: On February 3, 1938, Abbott and Costello broke into radio becoming regulars on The Kate Smith Hour. Bud Abbott was from Asbury Park, NJ. Lou Costello was from Paterson, NJ. Asbury Park and Paterson are longstanding Giants towns . . . there can be no argument that Abbott and Costello were Giants fans. On February 3, 1690, Massachusetts authorized the first official paper currency to be used in the Western Hemisphere. Hundreds of years later, paper currency is used at concession and souvenir stands at every NFL stadium to buy hot dogs and popcorn for your kids, beers for yourself and giant #1 foam fingers to annoy the crap out of the people sitting behind you.
Abbott and Costello have entertained us for years. They would be a fine reason to root for the Giants. However . . . to actually watch Abbott and Costello either on cable, satellite or DVD’s, you need to have money to pay for said cable, satellite or DVD’s. Paper money, whenever possible, is the most practical way to make a purchase. All things considered . . .
Go with the Patriots.
tom brady photo, courtesy al bello/getty images; eli manning photo, courtesy jonathan ferrey/getty images
For Blog Harbor and more cool stuff visit CGabriel.com
About the Author: Christopher Gabriel is the host of the cleverly named Christopher Gabriel Program on AM 970 WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota. You can hear him weekdays from 9 to Noon. As a writer and humorist, his work has been been published online by the Chicago Sun-Times, Reuters and publications within the Sun-Times News Group.