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June 12, 2002
The Boston strangler
ESPN The Magazine

That's it. That's finally it. I will listen to the laments of Boston sports fans no longer.

It is this simple: I don't care. I don't care about your history, or your suffering, or about how the Patriots restored your faith in humanity. I'm not from Boston. I'm from Chicago. Why would I care? I mean, how self-possessed can you people get?

This behavior is utterly peculiar to you and your city. Seriously, now: Milwaukee denizens don't still carry on about how their fragile psyches were irreversibly damaged by Gorman Thomas' 29-game hitless streak, or about how their spirits soared when Teddy Higuera came off the 15-day DL, as if these were matters of national concern. Just you guys. Get over yourself.

Babe Ruth
I got your curse right here!
And what gives you the right to play this victim role anyway? Look, I understand it is romantic, even quaint, to bask in how the cruel and arbitrary forces of the world strike you down, as if you were some tragic Shakespearean figure. But check yourself. Your curses do not compare to those of Houston fans or Detroit fans, and especially not to those of fans from the northside of Chicago. You are not Hamlet. You are Valerie Bertinelli. Your victim act is schlocky, and totally unconvincing. You fancy yourself tormented. You are merely insecure.

I'm also puzzled by your claims of collective consciousness. It is never enough for you to say, "I hate Roger Clemens," or "I believe in the Sox this year," or "I like TastyTreat ice cream." It is always, "We hate Roger Clemens," or "We believe in the Red Sox this year" or "We like TastyTreat ice cream."

Who is this nebulous "we?" And how does this "we" reach these consensus opinions, anyway? Does the "we" plug into a central mainframe, a la The Matrix? Does the "we" consult a Bible or Koran or Torah? Perhaps the "we" attend town hall meetings where the "we" pass resolutions: "All those in favor of scorning Antoine Walker say we."

And what of dissent? Is it punishable by excommunication? 30 lashes? Merely frowned upon? What would Aldous Huxley think about all this?

Self-possessed, self-absorbed, self-delusional: Yup, that about covers it. Now how about a little self-restraint?

Scott Burton is a senior reporter at ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at

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