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Gateway to a title

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff June 20, 2008 08:38 AM

Itís all sort of fitting that the Cardinals are in town beginning tonight at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox will also honor the NBA champion Boston Celtics prior to first pitch.

Itís the Greatest Era in Boston Sports History. The least we can do is pay tribute to St. Louis, which has for sure played such a large role in making this town the most feared, loved, and despised athletic Mecca in the nation.

Tonightís game will mark the Cardinalsí first appearance at Fenway since Game 2 of the 2004 World Series, when Curt Schilling showed off Round 2 of the Bloody Sock legend, en route to a 6-2 victory. Three days later, the Sox were World Champs for the first time in 86 years, a night when ushers at ye olí Busch Stadium were kind enough to allow a stream of unpaid Sox fans into the park come the ninth inning to witness history.

It might not be quite the same, but in winning their first trophy in 22 years, these Celtics kicked off the playoffs by sneaking past the Atlanta Hawks, formerly of St. Louis. Yes, itís sort of like considering the Atlanta Braves still a Boston-based team, but with such a rich NBA playoff history between the two, the shoe still fits.

If it were up to us (and where are ye, Charles Steinberg?) tonightís pregame ceremony would involve the Patriots and some old-time Bruins too, if only to celebrate this townís whipping post history over St. Louis.

Two of the six titles this decade came courtesy of our friends in the Midwest, the Sox in í04 and the Patriots over the Rams, which kicked off New Englandís recent streak of athletic dominance. The last time the St. Louis Blues were in the Stanley Cup Finals, they lost to a certain hockey team led by Bobby Orr, one that currently has a lot of work to do to catch up with its championship brethren.

Apropos of nothing, here are the current title droughts for Boston sports teams:

Celtics: 0 years.

Red Sox: 0 years.

Patriots: 3 years.

Bruins: 36 years.

We can only pray, hope, and yearn for a 2009 Stanley Cup Finals between the Bruins and Blues. Any doubt who would win that one?

It wasnít always the case throughout history, of course, this prevalence over St. Louis. Back when the Hawks called the Gateway City home, they took the 1957-58 NBA title by beating the Celtics in 6 games, Bostonís only season without a title over a 10-year stretch. The Cardinals downed the Sox in the World Series in 1946 and again in í67.

Since The Impossible Dream came to a halt, however, Boston has been in the heads of the aw, shucks fanatics from Missouri.

St. Louis tried to steal New Englandís football team, and then was forced to sit back and watch the Patriots beat the team they stole from Los Angeles. Two years later, the Red Sox reaffirmed the lesson by denying the Cardinals the World Series trophy for which they would need to wait two more years.

To be fair, theyíve had a pretty good run themselves out there; one of each a World Series and Lombardi Trophy over the past 10 years. But two isnít six, and the pair of swing games in New Englandís favor came courtesy of St. Louie.

The St. Louis Dispatchís Bernie Miklasz, for one, has had enough:

Enough with the preening and gloating and this nonstop Boston "Me" Party.

I'm a big guy, so it pains me to say this, but I'm tired of seeing those chunky, pink-faced white guys wearing Celtics throwbacks, straight out of that stupid House of Pain video ("Jump Around") shouting "We're No. 1" at TV cameras with distorted faces.

Hey, Sully ó I didn't see you kick the field goal. That was Vinatieri. So quit rolling around in the end zone. Yo, Murph yeah, you in the Bird jersey, bum-rushing the floor at the Garden on Tuesday night when the Celtics destroyed the Lakers to win the NBA championship. Yeah, you. That's right. You aren't even Eddie Bird (Larry's brother), so get off the basketball court and let the Celtics players celebrate.

They should rename Boston's "Big Dig" and call it "Dig Me."

Miklasz goes on to remind us more of how generous his town has been to Boston: Ben Kerner trading the No. 2 pick, which turned out to be Bill Russell to the Celtics in 1956, which Miklasz calls, ďone of the all-time dunderhead transactions in the history of sport.Ē Revolution stars Taylor Twellman, Steve Ralston and Pat Noonan are St. Louis natives.

Boston-area teams are a combined 6-3 over St. Louis in title series throughout history (Red Sox, 1-2; Patriots, 1-0; Celtics, 3-1; Bruins, 1-0), but since 1970 itís a clean 3-0, two this decade. Call it the Curse of James Busch Orthwein.

Thereís some debate as to which Celtic throws out the first pitch tonight. The easy money is on Paul Pierce, but a Big Three on the mound probably isnít out of the question. Hereís a better idea. Howís this for a first-pitch foursome:

Orr, Russell, Tom Brady, and Manny Ramirez.

Just a little way of saying, Thanks, St. Louis.

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6 comments so far...
  1. I'd like to thank Minnesota too. The Twins release Ortiz the Red Sox pick him up and go on to win 2 World Series. The Timberwolves trade Garnett and the Celtics win the whole thing. But maybe that last thanks goes directly to Kevin McHale.

    I know everyone hates Boston sport fans now but if the tables were turned and some other city won as many titles as we have in the past 6 years wouldn't they be just as obnoxious about it? Personally I am not among the obnoxious fans, I remember the gap between the Celtics 1986 win and the Patriots Super Bowl win. I am grateful to witness it all and know it won't always be this way.

    Posted by Debbie June 20, 08 11:07 AM
  1. Boston was stinking up the joint for PLENTY of years while other cities reveled in their wins and dominance. Its cyclical. 20 years from now, we could be sitting here hating fans in St Louis, or Minnesota or wherever because their teams are winning and ours are not.

    Fair enough.

    But lets stop categorizing every single fan out here as the pasty-white faced, chubby folks with Irish sur names. How juvenile.

    I watched the Celts last season, have watched since Pierce was drafted. I even watched the Bruins a bit these past few years. I watched the Pats lose in 1997, and the Sox lose painfully year after year.

    Don't go crying baby shoes because we're now winning. Grit your teeth and look the other way, because I guarantee you that you won't want to be vilified for being happy once your teams DO start to win.

    Posted by krystyn June 20, 08 11:35 AM
  1. Maybe I missed it, but how could you not mention that the Celtics first ever title came against the St. Louis Hawks (1957)? Also, the Bruins victory over the St. Louis Blues ended a Stanley Cup drought that lasted almost 30 years!

    Posted by Chris June 20, 08 01:10 PM
  1. I am not pink, male or Irish.

    I cop to the chunky though.

    Can I still be a fan?

    I'd rather be hated than a loser . Bring them on.

    Posted by Amy June 20, 08 03:23 PM
  1. Chris: you missed it--

    "It wasnít always the case throughout history, of course, this prevalence over St. Louis. Back when the Hawks called the Gateway City home, they took the 1957-58 NBA title by beating the Celtics in 6 games, Bostonís only season without a title over a 10-year stretch. The Cardinals downed the Sox in the World Series in 1946 and again in í67."

    --Your Frieiends at Hooked-on-Phonics

    Posted by 1-800-ABCD-123 June 21, 08 11:02 AM
  1. Hooked-on-Phonics,
    That quote says the Hawks took the '58 title from the Celtics -- not that the Celtics first title in '57 came at the expense of the Hawks -- and that it was the only season without a Championship over a 10-year stretch. I guess Hooked-on-Phonics doesn't get into reading comprehension?

    Posted by Chris June 23, 08 01:13 PM
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