By David Schoenfield
Page 2

EDITOR'S NOTE: Page 2, along with ESPN2's "Cold Pizza," is counting down the 15 Most Tortured Sports Cities in America. This week, Bill Simmons shares his thoughts on how "tortured" a sports town Boston really is. We also present our own unique list of 10 tortured moments in Boston sports.

The Buckner game. The Boone game. The Bucky Bleepin' Dent game. Blowing Game 7 of the World Series in 1946, 1967, 1975 and 1986.

Enough already. So the Red Sox have suffered a few tough defeats. We've heard so often about those losses we could film a documentary on the tormented plight of Red Sox fans (oh, wait, somebody just did do that). On the other hand, the Patriots have won two Super Bowls in three years, the Celtics won three NBA championships in the '80s and the Bruins have the second-best record in the NHL over the past 25 years.

15. Tampa Bay
14. Kansas City
13. Cincinnati
12. Phoenix
11. Washington, D.C.
10. Houston
9. San Diego
8. Atlanta
7. Seattle
6. Minneapolis
5. Boston

Want to find out what the No. 4 city is? Tune into ESPN2's "Cold Pizza" Tuesday morning in two weeks. Then head back to Page 2 to read all about it.

So, really, we have to kindly disagree with our "Cold Pizza" friends that Boston is a tortured sports city. But that doesn't mean we can't come up with our weekly list of 10 torturous Boston sports moments anyway. Well, besides all those Red Sox losses, that is:

10. Manny Ramirez plays left field with a water bottle in his back pocket
So talented, so frustrating. Ramirez can torture Red Sox fans with his enormous production followed by bouts of idiocy, such as the time last season when he played left with a water bottle sticking out of his uniform pocket. Or the time he was seen in the hotel bar with Enrique Wilson after he had missed a game with the flu. Or the time he flipped the ball into the stands with only two outs. Or the time he forgot how many outs there were while running the bases. Or the time ...

9. Patriots give the axe to "Pat Patriot"
It was a sad day when the Patriots replaced their classic helmet logo -- a minuteman snapping a football -- for the 1993 season with some newfangled artsy ... crap. You can still walk the streets of Boston and hear people saying, "Sure, the Super Bowls are nice, but I really miss Pat Patriot."

Derek Lowe
Derek Lowe -- probably not a very popular person in Oakland.

8. Tree Rollins bites Danny Ainge
Bostonians still wake up in cold sweats over the "Tree bites man" affair. During the 1983 playoffs, a loose-ball scramble resulted in a pile of players, under which the Atlanta center took out a chunk of one of Ainge's fingers. Luckily, Ainge recovered, only to bite Celtics fans back when he was later hired as the team's GM.

7. Speaking of fingers ...
When Derek Lowe thwarted an Oakland rally in last year's playoffs, turned to the Oakland dugout and celebrated with an obscene gesture, it only continued a time-honored Boston tradition. After all, Ted Williams once thanked the Boston faithful for booing him after a poor fielding play by flipping them the bird. In part, that booing led to Williams never tipping his cap to the fans during his playing days, a move which undoubtedly helped create the modern-day ... umm -- tortured? whiny? demented? pathetic? -- Red Sox fan.

6. Larry Bird's perm mullet
Look, Bird was fluidity on the court, a poet's combination of shooting touch and hoops instinct. But in other ways he was not pretty to look at. In fact, most basketball historians rate Magic Johnson slightly ahead of Bird for one reason: Magic never wore a perm mullet like Bird did in the mid-'80s. Some statistical analysts have even suggested the Celtics lost the '85 Finals to the Lakers due to Bird's perm mullet affecting the shooting touch of Robert Parish and Dennis Johnson. Torturous, indeed!

5. 1997
The Bruins go a dreadful 26-47-9 and miss the playoffs for the first time since 1967. The Celtics embarrass the city by going 15-67. The Red Sox go 78-84 and watch the exiled Roger Clemens win the Cy Young Award for the Blue Jays. The point is this: OK, there is no point. Except Clemens may wear a Yankee cap on his Hall of Fame plaque and boy does that bug the saliva out of Red Sox fans.

4. The Irving Fryar knife incident
The Patriots reached their first AFC Championship game in 1986, but star receiver Irving Fryar was suddenly unavailable after his wife allegedly stabbed him in the hand with a kitchen knife. Allegedly. And it surely had nothing to do with Fryar's alleged infidelity. Anyway, the Patriots won that game but got thoroughly destroyed and embarrassed by the Bears in the Super Bowl.

Larry Bird
Larry Bird had quite a 'do in the old days.

3. Butch Hobson
In 1978, the Red Sox finished tied for first place with the Yankees. Bucky Dent won that tiebreaker game with a home run off Mike Torrez. But the real torture that year was Hobson playing third base like a one-armed raccoon and manager Don Zimmer's willingness to keep playing him. Hobson committed 43 errors and had a fielding percentage of .899. The Red Sox later rewarded Hobson for costing them the '78 pennant by naming him manager in 1992; he then skippered the Sox to three consecutive losing seasons.

2. Rats!
Imagine attending a sporting event at the old Boston Garden, reaching down under your seat for a handful of popcorn and ... getting bit by a rat. The old Garden was infested by them (and no, we don't mean players on the Flyers, Canadiens or Rangers). True story: a game in the 1988 Stanley Cup Finals between the Bruins and Oilers was delayed when rats chewed through electrical wires and plunged the Garden into darkness. Those sausages Celtics and Bruins fans were eating ... yep, you don't really know, do you?

1. Sauna in the Garden
OK, the rats are bad enough. But nothing was more torturous than the June day in the '84 NBA Finals between the Celtics and Lakers when a 98-degree day boosted the temperature inside the Garden to a toasty, sweaty, gooey 88 degrees. And let's just say the seats in the Garden weren't exactly as wide as in new arenas. Kareem had oxygen on the Laker bench; problem is, the fans didn't. Many passed out. It may have been a great game, but who remembers when you're miserable and unable to see cleary due to heat stroke.

And just image what it did to Larry's perm.

David Schoenfield is not a Boston native but roots for the Red Sox over the Yankees any day of the week.