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Boston or Bust

The tradition of New England fandom in Matt Kiernan’s family hasn't skipped generations. His grandfather was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. His mother was born in the Bronx, however, she attended Pawtucket Red Sox games with her father. It snowballed from there and the support for the Celtics, Patriots, and Bruins followed.

Kiernan curbs his intensity at sporting events while self-describing as a crazy fan. As a Westchester, New York native, there’s naturally some tension with others. “I just like messing with some fans,” said Kiernan. “I was at the Islanders-Bruins game. The Bruins lost 4-1 and Islander fans were chirping. ‘You guys enjoy your Stanley Cup while the Bruins go play for the real one.’” It's the same mentality when engaging with confident Yankee fans. “Enjoy the basement and barely making the playoffs.” Every New York team is deemed intolerable except for the Mets.

Celebrating has become common in New England and it’s hard to narrow down the best highlights of recent memory. Julian Edelman’s improbable catch in Super Bowl LI seemingly defied physics. Kiernan was just an 8-year-old when Dave Roberts stole second and sparked baseball’s most unlikely comeback in the 2004 ALCS. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and returned in the months following the Boston Marathon Bombing. Kevin Garnett has surely earned Kiernan’s affection. “I love KG,” said Kiernan. “He’s a psycho, but he’s probably the best thing to happen to the Celtics that year.” The Big Three consisting of Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals. Boston completely turned the tide after finishing with the Eastern Conference’s worst record the season before.

According to Kiernan, New England fans still have a feeling of the “Little Guy” or “Little Brother Complex.” The sentiment seems contradictory since New England franchises have racked up championships for two decades. The Patriots missed the playoffs in 2020 and reloaded with rookie quarterback Mac Jones in 2021. Celtics fans were devastated in 2016 at the sight of Gordon Hayward’s injury months after he signed a $128 million contract. Kyrie Irving led the team to the Conference Finals during the same season and they succumbed to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7.

Baseball continues to be Kiernan’s go-to sport yet his unapologetic enthusiasm for the Red Sox brought ridicule at a young age. Because of those experiences, he’s sympathetic to those who lack loyalty to one team or bandwagon on a year-by-year basis. “I was tired of getting picked on in middle school,” Kiernan said. “Do I just go with a New York Team?” But trying to be a New York Giants fan was too uncomfortable. Kiernan was warned of the consequences of wearing Boston gear. A middle school guidance counselor advised his mother to buy him new clothes because it was “antagonizing” the students. To be overly kind to the students, Kiernan dared to don an Ortiz or Pedroia jersey in the following weeks that the Sox were eliminated from the postseason.

To this day, it’s Boston or bust. Red Sox athletic wear and 34-28 themed shirts are a part of morning routines. A grown man will occasionally condemn the outfit and Kiernan keeps it moving, as a true New Englander should.

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