Saturday, July 07, 2012

Free, Agency

"You have so much more space in which to ha ha ha ha."

-- James Murphy, LCD Soundsystem, "Yr City's a Sucker"

"Bye, bye, baby it's been a sweet love
Though this feeling I can't change
But please don't take it so badly
'Cause Lord knows I'm to blame
But, if I stayed here with you girl
Things just couldn't be the same
'Cause I'm as free as a bird now
And this bird you can not change

-- Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Freebird"

I love Boston.

It's a great city, perhaps the best city in the U.S. Boston isn't a franchise city, and what I mean by that is that Boston has a genuine identity beyond the usual "Look what we have!" that defines a lot of big American cities -- New York and Los Angeles, specifically (Chicago can walk the walk, though).

New England, which I love dearly, has a small-town mentality (and, yeah, the xenophobia associated with small towns, too, but it's part of the charm if you can put your righteous indignation card in your back pocket); and Boston, the nation's tenth-biggest city, is the mayor, talking big, puffing out its chest, and taking care of its little brothers (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont...and Connecticut and Rhode Island on occasion).

To outsiders such as myself, this particular urban characteristic is both endearing and downright irritating when it comes to sports -- sorry, spahts. Too many Bostonians feel their teams deserve, nay, are destined, to win everything, and that's been compounded by the fact that, since the Patriots beat the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, Boston has been on a terrific spahts run: 2 World Series titles, 3 Super Bowl championships, and a Stanley Cup. But when Boston teams don't win, out come the woe mongers. Call the waahmbulance.

To quote Clint Eastwood, deserve's got nothing to do with it.

The simple truth is that sports fans deserve nothing, and any city, however great, has no entitlement to win. Winning is a drug, though, for players and fans. For cities with teams that haven't won much, it's not that big of a deal, because they aren't hooked yet, but for cities that have tasted the glory at the top of the summit? Withdrawal is hard.

I love Toronto.

It's a great city, perhaps the best city in Canada. Toronto, however, is totally a franchise city, and what I mean by that is that Toronto's identity is defined more by "Look what we pretend we have" more than what it actually does have. And when it comes to spoorts, Toronto has been starving. The city's sports fans, though, keep paying for a steak dinner that never comes.

To natives such as myself, this particular devotion is both noble and total fucking bullshit. There's something to be said for loyalty; but if my wife -- Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, in this analogy -- wouldn't even give me a kiss on my birthday -- "birthday" representing years of drafts, trade opportunities, and free-agency non-signings -- I'd divorce her. Because everyone wants to be loved. It's like oxygen. Not enough and you're gonna die.

Welcome to the Miami Heat, Ray Allen.

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