(For what I'm reacting to, this is Cubby Tee's non-apology for pulling their Blackhawks "Chicago Stronger" shirt.)
I am a Boston fan and I make no bones about it. Like Chicago, Philly and New York, we Boston fans live and die by our teams. I like that you are like our own "Sully's Tees" who were fans that made fan shirts that are snarky but our true fan sentiments.
I also admire the grist of your fans is similar to ours. It takes a set of huge, clanking brass ones for the lead singer of the Tossers - a fine Chicago Irish Punk band - to stand on the stage of the Middle East, look at my Bruins jersey and, with his Chicago softened Irish brogue announce, "Here's to the best team in the NHL, the Chicago Blackhawks and you Bruins fans can fuck off!"
That night my son turned to me and said, "I hope we have a Bruins/Hawks battle for the cup."
It is the wish the two of us have held onto for dear life over the past two months. To me, there's little better in hockey than original 6 battles like the one we're in now.
Yep, Bostonians pretty much respect a fan that passionate (unless they're a Yankees fan, with the exception of 2001, then they can suck it). Since that night, I've pretty much had Flatfoot 56's "Winter in Chicago" stuck in my head. Actually, I've had the line "it's winter in Chicago and the Hawks are on tonight, so it's alright" while the rest of the song is sort mumble mumble mumble Lakeshore Drive mumble mumble....
(BTW if you haven't checked out either of these fine Chicago Irish punk bands, then shame on you! Flatfoot's pipers are some of the best I've heard after years of listening to all kinds of Celtic music and I will always love the Tossers for playing "I'll Tell Me Ma" for "Miscreant's mom in the back of the room....")
Enough about Chicago, let me see if I can explain to you about "Boston Strong"and my gut reactions to both the "Toronto Stronger" and "Chicago Stronger" messages.
In that dark, dark week where a peaceful event celebrating the triumph of the human spirit was horribly marred, a dark gash was ripped through the very core of Boston. To "run Boston" is more than to run a marathon, it's a high standard that runners dream about. For runners like me, we dream about "running Boston" the way that 7 year old kid stepping up to the plate in Little League dreams of stepping up to the plate in the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the World Series to win it all for their team.
Yeah, the Grande Dame of marathons, the Boston Marathon, is really that special.
So those bomb blasts that destroyed and changed the lives of the average people who had that moment in life to feel like that elite athlete was something that just can't be fully described. For the first time since 2001, I finally understood how my friends in NY felt on that horrible fall day and they understood what it was like to be a bystander from a distance.
It doesn't matter where "Boston Strong" came from as a saying, it has become Boston's motto. Even the FCC understood David Ortiz's utterance of "This is our fucking city!" and chose not to fine MLB or networks who did not censor that moment.
Right now we have our hopes pinned on the Bruins. They are the rainbow in the sky at the end of the storm right now. It's that odd foreshadowing the President spoke of at the Mass of Healing in Boston after the bombings when he alluded, to the chagrin of Chicago fans, that there would be duck boat parades in Boston. The World Series is too far away and the Celtics choked the way most of us knew they would. When the best the Pats have to offer is Tebow, well, is it any wonder why this city is pinning their hopes for sports redemption on the B's?
Most of us who are real B's fans will tell you that, up until 2 years ago, they were the red-headed bastard step child of Boston sports. A few years back when they flew the team flags of Boston over the state house, the B's flag was not there (but the fucking Revolution had their flag flown). That night the B's went back into action after the bombing and Renee Rancourt took to the ice to sing the anthem, something amazingly special happened - Boston sent one loud and clear message to the world: we're hurt but we're still here. The Bruins truly became Boston's team after years of neglect.
We need them, we need this win and we need this promise that life will be normal again.
So why the objection to the Toronto or Chicago Stronger? Well, I don't know if I made it clear enough of how this isn't a sports slogan even though it is used in a sports context right now. Boston needs that victory to help us move on as we keep healing. Remember when you're still young and invincible and you have that one kid you know that's your age die? How, while you're still reeling, someone makes that one crack that makes you want to punch them in the face. You know what I mean, that crack about how the good Lord doesn't give us more than we can handle or Divine will or something that makes you want to say, "What G0d do you pray to that does this because I'm 'strong enough to handle' it?"
That's what those shirts mean to us. We're still hurting here and it's too soon. Yes we wave a "Boston Strong" flag, usually by a hero or victim of the bombing before the game. Yes it's our arena chant for now. But give it some time. Maybe after we drink champagne from Lord Stanley's cup and have a duck boat parade or two we can just call you assholes and be done with it.
Until then, give it a rest rather than try to call no harm, no foul. Realize you just kicked someone when they were down and, "Sorry man, I had no idea," then offer your hand to pull us up, give us a bro hug and offer to buy us a beer while we move on.
Oh yeah, and may the best team (the Bruins) win.