December 21, 2014

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Who has more ‘pop’ credibility? Bean-town

When the Red Sox capped their historic comeback over the New York Yankees on the path to their 2004 World Series, I had the best seat in the house. No, it wasn’t just behind home plate or along the third base line. It was surrounded by drunken strangers stuck inside a dark, dank room so loud and crowded I missed most of the crucial plays of the game.

And it was great.

I high-fived more strangers that night than in the rest of my life combined. Each inning, I proposed a cheer to the Red Sox with a new stranger and went home smelling of beer, sweat and pure Red Sox pride.

This is a scene familiar to any true Bostonian. If there’s one thing Bostonians like more than watching the Red Sox, it’s drinking beer while watching the Red Sox. From nursing a dark stout in one of the 13 billion Irish pubs to tilting back a bottle of Sam Adams at Fenway, beers — and bars — hold a special place in the heart of Boston.

None of these saloons, taverns or pubs, though, can hold a pint glass to a certain Boston bar that never existed.

For 11 hilarious seasons (and 26 Emmy Awards) many Bostonians reserved a weekly stool at “Cheers.” For half an hour, they could cast aside all of the stresses — and Red Sox losses — of the previous week and throw back a brew with Woody, Cliff and Norm.

“Cheers” is easily the most famous show ever set in Boston and for good reason. The show embodies much of Boston’s heart and soul and had a way of capturing Boston pride, and the city’s strong link between suds and sports. The bar’s manager, Sam Malone (played by Ted Danson) was a retired Red Sox pitcher who never really left his glory days behind him. Together with the rest of the rag-tag bunch of peanut-munching regulars, he showed Boston’s true colors to millions of viewers throughout the country.

Although “Cheers” ended in 1993, its legacy lingers. Hours before the lights turn on inside Fenway tonight, until long after the Red Sox celebrate their inevitable victory over the Indians, thousands of Bostonians will find their own favorite bar and recreate a scene from one of the best shows in TV history — just as I did almost exactly three years ago.

And when the Red Sox rock Cleveland tonight, every citizen of Red Sox Nation will hold his or her beer stein high and offer a toast to the mighty men of Fenway and the magical culture that surrounds them. Oh, how I wish I could be among them.

But, alas, I must participate from afar. So, here’s to you Boston.

Cheers.

Contact Michael Baker at 329-7155 or mbaker@chroniclet.com.