“Can you imagine if this were for the Red Sox?”
Unavoidably, one of the recurring deep questions bandied about in the snuggly confines of Boston’s City Hall Plaza Tuesday morning was what the reception would be like — and if the city would be equipped to survive — should the beloved but beleaguered BoSox ever complete their elusive (is that a strong enough word?) quest for a title.
Tuesday, for the second time in three years, 1.5 million people flooded the streets of the Hub of the Universe to pay homage to the consummate t-e-a-m which just happened to have in its possession the Lombardi Trophy. Last time, I showed up too late to see the stage. Not to be denied, I arrived at Government Center via the Green Line around 9:15, in plenty of time to set up shop for the 1:30 rally.
For those unfamiliar with the nuances of the T, I’ll just say this: my rail of choice, the B line, traverses Commonwealth Avenue from Boston College to Boston University, making approximately 85 stops at intervals of 1.7 feet. This separation of 1.7 feet was, incidentally, exactly 1.7 feet more than the separation between me and 17 other people in the zoo of City Hall Plaza.
Someone could have conducted a truly wonderful mob rule sociological study in the glorified mosh pit in the long waiting hours Tuesday morning. At first, the roar of the crowd was reserved for shameless mugging for the cameras. Gradually, flashing became the order of the day, and as women (that’s being generous — most looked like teens, some barely out of middle school) were hoisted onto shoulders in order to bare all, the crowds erupted.
Logically, that’s when the throwing started. Full bottles of soda, crumpled newspapers, anything and everything was lofted from the periphery into the inner circle, which was, after much deviousness, where I was stationed. I seem to remember 11:02 bringing an unrelenting aerial barrage into the Boston sky unprecedented since the deluge the namesake of our heroic NFL champions unleashed upon the British two and quarter centuries ago. From then on, any time a girl got raised onto someone’s shoulders, the roar was not of approval but of fury from those around her who feared the bombardment that would surely follow the presentation of such an easy, elevated target. Really, the wrath was phenomenal.
By that time, I couldn’t move. Imagine trying to fit 20 people into a phone booth. All right, now try fitting 50. This was 118 people. In a booth. I recognized a large group of current students from my high school about six feet from me. Six feet — wasn’t going to happen. Think about Toad’s. If you lose a friend there, you’re about as likely to find them again as O.J. is to find the real killer. This was infinitely worse. Not only could you not find anyone if you got separated, but even if you could, there was absolutely no way you were going to be able to reach them.
The greatest redeeming quality of the day was the unbelievably mild temperatures as compared to the previous parade. The above-freezing readings were not nearly as cold as the mocking phone call I received from a certain newspaper sports editor in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game after Tom Brady threw an interception at the Carolina goal line while the Patriots were driving to improve on their 21-16 lead.
Here’s an analogous facsimile of the conversation: “Hey, did you just see your mom get hit by that car!?!?! Oh man … that was hilarious!” This is why I don’t watch sports with other people when I actually care about the game. If I had my choice, I’d institute a sports intelligence minimum as a prerequisite for making any comment during any sporting event, which this dear editor wouldn’t meet.
And then there was the actual rally. It might as well have been fan appreciation day in Boston since each player stuck with the theme of heaping praise on the Foxboro faithful. Keeping with tradition, Ty Law called out Brady, team owner Bob Kraft and Messiah-candidate Bill Belichick to dance (Kraft, hands down, had the slickest moves).
Two years ago, Law was the dance maestro as well, but he had a partner in crime in Lawyer Milloy. Now, Milloy is wallowing away in Buffalo with another expatriate, Drew Bledsoe, after he refused to restructure his contract. Drew ruffled some feathers on his way out of New England by not appearing at the parade two years ago. I was desperately hoping for the two of them to run out of City Hall Plaza from behind with steel chairs, lay out Belichick and Brady (the primary reasons Milloy and Bledsoe respectively are out of town) and then flex for the crowd. You know … why not?
But back to the looming question, which is about the Sox. I laid my over/under on the first “Yankees suck” cheer at 10 and I was late by half an hour. Thankfully, however, this time none of the Patriots’ players (ahem, Larry Izzo) felt it necessary to diminish their own achievement by inciting the crowd with enlightening baseball cheers. Likewise, sporadic cheers of the same nature were often shouted down by the frustrated masses. In a city defined by baseball, it seemed only fair that, for once, its football team had the day to itself.