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For anyone hoping to garnish some good will in a sports nation that has all but fallen in love with hating us, you can forget it. Between Marc Savard “biting” Dan Carcillo during a post-whistle scuffle in Game 2 of the Bruins-Flyers series, and Danny Ainge tossing a towel in the air to distract Cleveland Cavalier JJ Hickson during a free throw on Monday night (the NBA thought Ainge’s actions were dirty enough to slap him with a $25,000 fine), sports fans living outside of New England have two more reasons to despise any team that wears the word “Boston” on their uniform.
The Boston-haters (which is pretty much everyone who doesn’t get NESN and CSNNE on their basic cable packages) already had a long list of grievances against us. We’re arrogant. We’re entitled. We buy our championships. We have an insufferable inferiority complex. And the latest page in their dossier of malevolence—we’re dirty cheaters.
For those who may have been ignoring stories that don’t have a goddamn thing to do with the actual games being played, I’ll quickly summarize these two egregious actions by our local sports’ celebrities.
First, Dan Carcillo, a Flyers right-winger who moonlights as an extra on MSNBC’s To Catch A Predator, accused Savard of biting his finger while the two engaged in some extracurricular horseplay following what (even Savard admitted) was a late slash at the glove of Philly goalie Brian Boucher.
Did Savard bite Carcillo? I don’t know. Maybe he did. Savard did get suspended for a game back in ’03 for biting Darcy Tucker, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Then again, Carcillo is a goon and the type of guy who’d watch Cool Runnings with you, then cheer when the Jamaicans crash at the end, just to piss you off.
Then we have Danny Ainge, the Celtics GM who felt like tossing a towel about 12 feet into the air. Done in the privacy of one’s own home, this behavior, while kind of queer, isn’t too big of a deal. But when someone does it for the distinct purpose of distracting an opposing player during a playoff game free throw, they come across as kind of a tool.
Is what Ainge did weak? Yeah, probably. Even he later admitted it was wrong, that he regretted it and said what he did was “unprofessional.” However, Hickson did make the free throw anyway, and even if he didn’t, the Cavs still got spanked by almost 20 points on their home floor. So I hardly think that such antics (though a little sophomoric for an executive of the Association’s most storied franchise) are quite that serious.
Did these two incidents make us look as if the water around here isn’t the only thing that’s dirty?
Well, they surely weren’t some of our finest moments.
Yet here’s the big question—do I (or should you) really care?
Nope. We shouldn’t care one bit.
Not because of some old clichés like “The ends justify the means” or “Nice guys finish last” or “If you’re not caught it’s not cheating” or “Whatever, we got championships and you don’t.”
Not because every team in every major sport has some incident of poor sportsmanship or cheating in their past.
Not because these two events had absolutely no bearing on the final outcome of the games in which they happened.
No, I don’t care (nor should you) because these two incidents are tantamount to a quarrel between a couple of 2nd graders during recess.
“He threw a towel in the air!”
“He tried to bite me!”
Seriously? That’s what makes us dirty cheaters? Look, on a cheating/dirty play scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being stealing money from the bank in Monopoly and with 10 being taping your opponents signals or having the two star players in your World Series Championship teams exposed as PED users, these two incidents rank at about a -1, right below Big Baby hitting the game winning shot then bumping into a fat kid on the sidelines in Orlando during last year’s playoffs.
We’ve all seen and experienced a 10 on the cheating scale. We went through Spygate. We had to face the reality that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, two guys who brought us long awaited World Series rings, and probably did so under dubious means.
Those I cared about. Those were crushing to me. I had to be subjected to taunts from non-Boston fans about how we cheated. How we played dirty. And I couldn’t say anything in return, because they were right. It kind of tainted some of the most wonderful memories I’ve ever had, or ever will have—my future wedding and children’s birth included.
When you’ve had to come to grips with such soul crushing incidents of foul play, it’s hard to get all bent out of shape about something as trivial like “Towel Toss 2010” or “Bitegate.” That would be like asking a lion tamer if he worries about getting scratched by an ornery house cat.
So when Philly or Cleveland or any other fan that loves to loathe us points at the transgressions of this past week and says, “Cheaters. You ‘Bahstahn’ boys are nothing but a bunch of dirty, foul playing, rule bending cheaters!” Look them in the eye, or though the message board, or webcam, or Skype call or text message and firmly say, “Cheating? Son, I’m from New England. I’ve seen cheating. And that my friend is no cheating.”