Thursday, April 23, 2009

How bout them Bruins

I am in the vestibule to the post office reviewing the mail that has arrived in my post office box. A man whisks past me positively beaming. The woman at the counter greets him with similar enthusiasm.

"How 'bout those Bruins?" she says to him.
"How 'bout those Bruins," he shakes his head and responds not as a question, but as if to say, "Can you beat that?"

Last night the Boston Bruins swept the Montreal Canadiens in their best of seven hockey playoff series. Superficial acquaintances and strangers have bonded in Boston over this news. They are enjoying the day partly because the Canadiens and the Bruins are rivals, and partly because it is a relief to have cleared the initial hurdle in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. My dear friend Barry Poppel who is referred to in the epilogue to March Madness: Bonding and Betting with the Boys is similarly, but not completely, relieved. His Rangers are up 3-1 in their series with the Washington Capitals. They need one more victory and their fans are sufficiently knowledgeable to be aware that the series is not over before the rotund lady is crooning. But still, 3-1, is better than 1-3 and how 'bout them Rangers.

Throughout Boston, New York, and other cities the hockey and playoff fever is co-mingling with the beginnings of baseball season. Last night I heard a distressed sports talk show host worrying about--of all things--whether the prospects of a rainout would throw the Red Sox pitching rotation into disarray. The season is only fifteen games old. On ESPN a fellow who seems to hibernate from May until March, has been omnipresent predicting who will be selected in this year's NFL football draft. The draft will be held on Saturday in New York and this event is a reflection if there ever was one of fan culture. People stand in line for hours to attend the draft. The draft is televised annually and it consists of nothing more than teams identifying the players from the college ranks that they have chosen to hire to play for their respective teams. Imagine a national network televising Xerox, Toyota, Dow-Chemical, and thirty other executives sitting around and picking the best college graduates for their companies--and there being a crazed audience waiting to hear the selections identified.

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