The Universal Notebook: Don’t love that dirty water

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(Since this column is being published after Election Day I have no idea whether we will be celebrating or mourning, so I have elected the diversion of sports.)

If you live in Maine it’s hard to be much of a Boston sports fan these days. Many of the Boston stars you’re used to rooting for play for other teams now.

Personally, I became a Los Angeles Dodgers fan when the Boston Red Sox traded right fielder Mookie Betts to L.A. so they wouldn’t have to pay him what he’s worth when he became a free agent. As the lowly Sox slunk off into autumnal oblivion, Mookie led the Dodgers to their first World Series title in 32 years. Take that, Red Sox GM Chaim Bloom. 

Loyalty begets loyalty. I’m not a big fan of teams that fail to keep faith with their star players or of star players who jump the fence for more money. I know, I know, it’s just business, but if that’s the case why root for local teams at all? 

The Standells’ 1966 hit, “I love that dirty water (I love Boston),” became the official Red Sox victory song in 1997, but the Standells were from L.A., and the song actually mocked Boston as a dangerous, polluted city, after the band’s manager had been mugged there. And these days, I don’t really love Boston all that much either.

Because he was in his 40s and past his prime, the Patriots let QB Tom Brady go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where his old buddy Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement to be reunited with the GOAT. Now Brady’s Bucs are atop their conference and the Pats are under .500, having lost three games in a row for the first time since 2002. 

On Oct. 25, Brady’s former backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, came back to Foxboro for the first time as the QB of the San Francisco 49ers and buried his old team 33-6. Meanwhile, Brady’s replacement, Cam Newton, had to be benched for stinking out loud and backup QB Jarrett Stidham came in and promptly threw another interception. 

My love affair with sports began during the innocent years of the 1950s and early 1960s, so I fell in love with the Boston Patriots, not the New England Patriots. Their stars back then were Italian stallions: QB Babe Parilli, linebacker Nick Buoniconti and wide receiver/kicker Gino Cappelletti.

The Boston Celtics in those days were an NBA dynasty led by hoop greats Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Tommy Heinsohn, Casey Jones, Sam Jones, Satch Sanders, Bill Sharman, and shortly thereafter, John Havlicek. Then came the Larry Byrd years. Frankly, I couldn’t tell you who’s been wearing the Celtics green since Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett retired.

The Red Sox of my youth were mostly also-rans and cellar-dwellers who broke your heart year after year. Still, the Red Sox of Ted Williams, Jackie Jensen, Jimmy Piersall, and Frank Malzone are my all-time favorites, even more so than the Yaz Sox of the Impossible Dream year of 1967. Back then, it didn’t matter whether they won or lost, they were our guys. And the Red Sox never traded away Teddy Ballgame just because they lost, or worse because they didn’t want to pay him what he was worth.

Let’s hope COVID-19 and Trump-45 are both gone by Opening Day 2021.

Edgar Allen Beem has been writing The Universal Notebook weekly since 2003, first for The Forecaster and now for the Phoenix, where he also writes the monthly Art Seen feature.