I had something of a Seinfeldian streak of vomit-free years going that was ruined in October 2004.

The cause? Well, there was a great little fish store near my apartment in Westbury, and, during this period, I had developed a taste for clams, usually broiling them, but always dousing them in lemon juice or tabasco sauce. Good stuff. But it only takes one bad clam...

During that same month, the Yankees had jumped out to a three-game lead in the ALCS. With eight innings of Game 4 in the books, the good guys were a Mo save from the World Series. But it only takes one bad inning...

The blown save was followed by a Red Sox win in Game 5.

I honestly don't know if it was nerves or the clams, but I hurled before Game 6. More than once, I believe. An off-site meeting was on the docket for the next day. I remember getting sick in the office before leaving for the meeting, but I toughed it out and went, though I didn't mask my condition well: I was told that I looked greener than Kermit the Frog (or maybe it was greener than the Grinch. Or was it Gazoo?--anyway, someone green).

I did recover, but the Yankees didn't, and I didn't go near clams for several years after that.

So, what is it with our sports allegiances that can make us sick when things go wrong? And, what fuels the rivalries? The proximity of teams obviously enables them, as do playoff encounters, especially when these meetings occur several times within a few years.

For the most part, though, the rivalries reside with the fans, and not the players. Money drives players, and they switch to the uniforms of their rivals pretty easily. Further, I've been surprised at the camaraderie often evident from the players on "rival" teams. I'm not talking about sportsmanship like a handshake after a game. I'm referring to the commercials the players on these teams have done together, the pre-game embraces between the likes of the rather likable Big Papi and Yankees like A-Rod and Mo, and, most unsettling, a tender, hand on the shoulder, moment between Varitek and Jeter between pitches in the last series between these two teams (the announcers didn't comment on it, but it was a bizarre sight, albeit one that I think many missed). Sure, each team has players that the other team may not like, but any real contempt is between those players and the fans of the opponent. Red Sox players and Yankees players don't dislike each other nearly as much as Red Sox players and Yankees fans, and vice versa. Clearly, this dislike transcends across the four sports, for me anyway.

As the basketball and hockey seasons were nearing championships, it struck me how my dislike for teams in other sports influenced who I wanted to win and lose the two finals, and I became slightly disinterested when I realized that all four couldn't lose. A bit bitter? Perhaps. Still, as a Giants fan, how could I possibly root for a team from Dallas? Well, it was easy to root against Miami this year. The Canucks? Well, until the last Winter Olympic Games, I'd never have a problem with a Canadian team winning the cup. More than a bit bitter? Well, no not really: A grudge against any team or country can be washed away when the team faces one from Boston. Truth be told, I don't have any grudge against the Bruins either, other than their city (and I add that I have nothing against Boston other than their teams). With the recent multiple championships of the Red Sox and Patriots, and the frequent championships of the Celtics, the notion of a Stanley Cup going to the Bruins just wasn't palatable. Remarkably--enviably--Boston teams have won championships in all four major sports in the last six years. This gives them great claim to the "Title Town" billing.

Thinking about this for more than a couple of seconds reminds me of that October evening seven years ago, and I won't be eating clams for the next few weeks.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. Oh Tom, let it go. The best teams deserve their Championships regardless where they are from. Lately, Boston has lucked out big time and good for them. Take for instance Tim Thomas, did you know that he is only the second American born to win the MVP Stanley Cup title? There is a dude with a lot of talent who deserves some respect even if he is the Bruins' goalie. After all, what would we do if we did not have the sports to entertain us?

  2. Using the phrase "vomit-free" in the first paragraph of a post is a bold move indeed...

  3. And I should point out that I (sort of) did it once myself:


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