Friday, July 31, 2009

As Boston Freaks out (and New York Gloats), a Nation Yawns

So, David Ortiz (and Manny Ramirez, but that's no surprise anymore) tested positive for steroids in 2003...evidently. Forget about the furor over tainted titles and rancid role models. Almost everybody in sports cheats somehow at some point, to say the least. What I find funny about this non-fiasco is that, aside from the fact that this is the best day Dan Shaugnessy has had in six years, nobody outside of Boston and New York really cares about this story. But you wouldn't know that living in Boston right now.

Oh, sure, Papi's on the front page of That makes sense. What on earth else is ESPN going to write about in late July, anyway? And I get the fact that local newspapers in cities not named Boston and New York cover what's happening in their cities and don't spend a lot of ink or pixels on East Coast news. Fine. That makes sense. But you'd think judging from the freak out going on in Boston that this story had captivated the nation. Uh, no.

In fact, it’s funny to see how little people in other cities care about Papi's plight. The home page of, the Web site of the Dallas Morning News--and I mean the main home page, not the front sports page--tonight has a special section on Cowboys training camp 2009, plus a “Sports” section in which three of the six articles are about the Cowboys…and then a completely separate “Cowboys” section. Again, that’s all on the paper's main home page. (Of course, I'm writing this just after midnight on July 31, so all of the stuff on the site might have changed by the time you read this post. But it probably won't have changed much.)

The front page of the DMN sports section has a link to a story about South Grand Prairie High’s first football coach dying…but nothing about Ortiz. The only link to a story about Papi is buried in the middle of the “Texas Rangers/MLB” page of the sports section of the site. (I won't link to that page because the DMN is now telling me that I'll have to register or sign in if I want to go any further. You'll just have to trust me.)

The KC Star in Kansas City is even better—the home page (again, the home page for the whole site) has a picture of Mike Vrabel and Matt Cassel arriving at Chiefs training camp. (Weird, huh, Pats fans?) There’s also a wrap-up of a Royals loss, a bunch more stuff on the Chiefs…and (I love this—this is absolutely great) a profile of one of the guys battling for the starting QB position at K-State this year. (Thank you, Middle America, for loving college football that much.) There is a link to an Ortiz story on the Star's sports page, but it gets pretty low billing.

I took a spin around a few other sites and found basically the same thing--the nation yawns at steroids-in-baseball stories now. But what really makes me laugh is that Boston sports fans think that people in other parts of the country care about what happens in Boston sports. They think that, since 2004 (or even since 2001), the sports eyes of the nation have been on New England and haven't blinked. Yeah, not really.

It's true that nearly a decade of unprecedented sports success has thrust Boston into the spotlight at times since 2001. And it's true that some of the more fantastic stories to come out of Boston--anything involving Bill Belichick, for instance--have grabbed the nation's attention and held it for a while. But, mostly, Boston sports fans have an inflated sense of their influence over fans in the rest of the country. They (we?) seem to think that the rest of the country is watching them all the time, judging them, envying them, waiting for bad things to happen to them. The fellowship of the miserable lives on, despite a lot of winning of late.

Well, Boston fans, there's no need to worry. Nobody's going to judge you based on the news about Papi because nobody outside of Boston and New York (and maybe LA, with Manny involved) cares about it...or really about baseball, for that matter, but that's another post altogether. No, Boston, you're (we're) not constantly in the spotlight, and yes, Boston, everybody else's baseball players were juicing, too. So, calm down, take a stroll on a beautiful New England summer evening, grab a Smuttynose or maybe a Shipyard...and get over yourselves. Please.

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