Designated Hitter: It truly is a Red Sox Nation

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We have four professional, major league sports teams in New England. The question is, if you could only keep one, which one would you keep?

The question first appeared on my Twitter timeline from John Steigerwald, a Pittsburgh sports broadcaster and writer. Since the Pittsburgh baseball team has been hideous, he was asking fans out there if they'd get rid of the Steelers or the Penguins.

I thought it was an interesting question to pose up here. Fans in Berkshire County basically root for the Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox and Patriots. But if you had to pick one and get rid of the others, which one would it be?

So, I posed the question on my Facebook page and on my Twitter timeline to gauge responses from fans.

Some of you didn't quite get the gist of the question. The Hartford Whalers and Williams College football don't qualify in this discussion. I did, however, get some thoughtful and surprising entries.

The majority of those who responded to me, in a somewhat surprising decision, said they'd keep the Red Sox and get rid of the other three. It wasn't really close.

Keeping the Red Sox actually garnered more support than the support for the other three teams had combined. What was most surprising is that despite all of those Lombardi Trophies and the "In Bill We Trust," mottos, more people who reached out to me would keep the Celtics or the Bruins ahead of the Patriots.

But keeping the Red Sox doesn't surprise me, because I have long felt that baseball is in the DNA of New Englanders from Burlington, Vt., to Kingston, R.I., and everywhere in between.

Former Williams College football All-American, ex-Patriot and former World League player Scott Farley of Williamstown wrote this.

"The Boston Red Sox. The number of games played, the ability to still se a game as an entire family without going for broke, the gift that our field of dreams in Fenway Park offers, all should go unchallenged. What's better than sitting at the beach, working in the garden or sitting on the porch, knowing that our beloved baseball team, near and dear, is within earshot on radio or TV. As with love, this important friend we've all come to know is difficult to finely tune with verbage, as the feeling speaks so much more than words can offer."

Farley and another Mount Greylock graduate, Trevor Wilson, are on the same page when it comes to the Red Sox.

"The Red Sox because Fenway's Green Monster is legendary and the park is an historical landmark," Wilson wrote. "For generations, kids made their way up the stairs to their seats and we all remember seeing the field for the very first time. It's as magical as Disney, the sounds and smells make you fall in love with the sport."

Kyle Belanger, a long-time colleague in the sportwriting business, a Taconic High School graduate and a Springfield College journalism professor, cited the Celtics.

"Surprisingly, it's not the team for which I cheer most passionately for (that would be the Patriots). For me, the answer is the Celtics," he wrote me. "For me, the Celtics represent the best of New England: A franchise steeped in the history of inclusion with a fan base that never gets as negative as the other three major teams."

Jacob Fink, a cross country runner and tennis standout at Mount Greylock, cites the Patriots.

"No one can ignite a city (or a region?) like TB12."

Ron Wojcik is the girls' basketball coach at Hoosac Valley, a teacher at Taconic and a sports fan of the highest order. He agrees with young Mr. Fink.

"The epitome of great talent, coaching, commitment and most importantly, mental toughness," he wrote.

David Heuschkel, a former Red Sox writer for the Hartford Courant and now an editor for a weekly in Connecticut, summed up what everyone who wanted to keep the Bruins had to say.

"What I really love about the Bruins and hockey in general is it remains an old school sport," he wrote to me. "Coaches today hold players to the same standard as coaches from back in the day. From the high scoring forward to the backup goalie, all players are held accountable. If you don't skate hard on every shift and give it your all, you will be benched or scratched the next game. I love the saying: Hockey is a sport where hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."

It was a most interesting discussion, and led to interesting reading.

Thanks John Steigerwald, and thanks to you all.

Reach sports columnist Howard Herman at 413-496-6253, hherman@berkshireeagle.com, or @howardherman

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