If Rick Pitino got one thing right during his disastrous tenure as head coach of the Boston Celtics, it was this statement: The negativity in this town sucks.
Rarely has that statement be more true than it is now. As we'll discuss, it is much more prevalent in the broadcast media than it is in the print media, though we've got the likes of Dan Shaughnessy painting worst-case scenarios with all our local teams in columns, and making allusions to the phrase "loserville."
The "Loserville" term was coined by Gerry Callahan in a column in the Boston Herald, on Oct. 18, 2000. In it, Callahan wrote:
Boston has become the skid row of professional sports, a sad, squalid place where playoff pipe dreams go to die. Here we sit in Loserville, USA, wallowing in regret and misery, wishing someday we might find out what it's like to be Oakland or Seattle or even St. Louis. The only playoff team in our midst is the New England Revolution, although no one in this television market actually saw their final postseason game, a 6-0 humiliation in Chicago, judging by the ratings.
After summing up the sad state of Boston sports, he went on to talk about the recent hire of Bill Belichick, and how it made "No difference." "New York continues to dominate the Patsies as if they were the new guy on the cellblock."
There's no doubt, things were bad back then. That period just prior to the Patriots' Super Bowl championship the next season was perhaps the low point in Boston sports. But still, I don't recall things being this negative among the media and fans.
Go ahead. Turn on your radio or television. Turn to WEEI or 98.5TheSportsHub, or CSNNE, or NESN, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter, you're going to hear the same stuff. (Mostly because it is the same group of people moving from radio in the daytime to television at night.) You're going to hear hosts and callers dwelling on real negatives, creating new ones, and laughing off positive thoughts with "homer" and "footy pajama" taunts.
Things hit a new low as the Bruins went down 0-2 to the hated Montreal Canadiens in their Stanley Cup Playoffs series, dropping both games at home. And the Red Sox struggled to their worst start since the Roosevelt administration. Unless you view listening to the angry rantings of fellow fans as a cathartic experience, it's unlistenable. The hosts do their part on radio by stoking the flames, and on the television programs, they are doing the angry ranting.
Even as things got a little better with the Bruins taking Game 3, and the Red Sox winning three in a row over the weekend, the negativity did not let up. I heard callers saying Terry Francona should be fired; I heard callers saying that the Bruins scored three "lucky" goals in the game that they did win.
Meanwhile, the Celtics crept out to a 2-0 lead in their first round series against the New York Knicks. Can't complain there, right? Wrong.
The media was leading the charge on this one, complaining that the wins were too close, and still harping on the midseason trade of Kendrick Perkins and how it crippled the Celtics' chances of actually contending for a championship. Predictions of doom and gloom are everywhere.
If I weren't being compensated for listening and watching these programs and commenting on them, there's no way I, as a level-headed fan, could possibly listen to them all. Maybe that's my problem. I'm not reactionary enough. I apparently need to scream and rant and rave to get my frustration out of my system.
Let's get real though, things are pretty good around here. These people are complaining about Bruins and Celtics playoff performances. Would they rather be rooting for the Edmonton Oilers or Minnesota Timberwolves? Sure, the Red Sox are off to an awful start, but would you prefer to be a New York Mets fan at the moment?
I suppose the positive of this is that people are interested in the local sports teams. CSNNE's Celtics playoff Game 1 was up 56% from last year -- a 7.2 household ratings vs. 4.6. They had fourth highest Post Game Live ever at 4.1. The Bruins Game 3 on NESN pulled an impressive 10.7 household rating in the Boston DMA -- the highest non game 7 in NESN playoff history.