Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Waking up with a sporting hangover; where is Boston sports going?

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You know the feeling where you wake up, and for the first few seconds everything is cool, everything is shiny, and then, pow, right to the kisser, you remember the night before?

As a Boston sports fan, you have to wonder, is this something of a cross roads we are at? This isn’t another one of those anguished, soul searching pieces, asking ‘why us?!’ that have been flooding the Internet since Boston stopped winning trophies. It’s a genuine question. Is this a big cross road for Boston sports collectively as we exit the first decade of the new millennium?

Are 2001-2008 going to go down as the glory years? In years to come will Boston sports fans look back on that era as the best sporting years of their lives? Can the Boston teams produce any kind of winning streak in the next few years?

Yes, yes and maybe one of them, basically.

First off, you have to say, ’01 to ’08 was pretty special. The Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics enjoyed a stretch of success that may never be matched by a City ever again.

  • The New England Patriots ’01, ’03 and ‘04
  • The Boston Red Sox ’04 and ’07 titles
  • Boston Celtics ’07-’08 title

Can that ever be recreated? The potentially depressing answer is, not in the short term anyway.

In terms of the Patriots, the parity that exists in the NFL will always be a major hurdle for any team trying to pull of a prolonged run of success. When I first started watching the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers were considered almost unbeatable in certain stages. Look how far they fell in the 90’s and early 00’s, before finally finding some success recently, and slowly growing a decent side again. When I was a young ‘un, almost everyone hated the 49ers. They were simply too good. You rooted for whoever they were playing and hoped for an upset. Sound like anyone we currently know in today’s NFL? It’s so cyclical it’s scary. The Patriots have had an admirable run, however perhaps now it’s coming close to the stage where they have to rebuild, re-tool. Their gut wrenching losses to the Colts (twice), the Giants and last night to the Saints might be the final nails in the coffin.

The only saving grace is the Patriots are run in an extremely professional manager from owner Bob Kraft down, so perhaps this will lessen the rebuilding period, and perhaps they won’t spend years in the NFL wilderness like the 49ers did.

The fact of the matter is, with teams like the Saints, Viking and Colts very much on the upswing, it is very hard to see the Patriots winning the Superbowl in the next few years. And that coming from Mr. Glass Half Full 2009.

The Celtics?

The Celtics are a gritty bunch of veterans who might find it in themselves to make one last title run this year or maybe even next season, however, long term, this team will eventually hit a brick wall. Garnett and Allen are on their last legs, or in Garnett’s case, last knees. Pierce has just a few years of his prime left. Age is one issue. The other is that there are several teams loaded with talent who will clog up the latter stages of the NBA playoffs for years to come. The Celtics are not one of those teams. Imagine the state this squad will be in say just two years from now? Not a pretty picture.

For The Red Sox, the future is infinitely brighter than the other big two Boston teams.

100 mph worth of reasons to be hopeful
Picture credit belongs to katken.

There’s no doubt the World Series is probably the toughest title to win of the big three, however Boston is tooled to make several runs at the title over the next few seasons. They have the financial backing, but most importantly they have an indcredible array of young talent assembled that no other team can match. The closest possibly being Tampa, however they will lose some of their pieces to free agency, whilst Boston can figure out a way to keep them. The Yankees, fresh off their ‘bought’ World Series, can only dream of having this group of twenty something studs; Daniel Bard, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonathon Papelbon, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Michael Bowden, Jon lester, Jed Lowrie, Manny Delcarmen and Clay Buchholz.

That pool of MLB ready talent is already producing results at the highest level. Give those players another season or two and Boston could be on the brink of a 3-5 year stretch of dominance the likes of which MLB teams only dream of. The future is so bright, Theo Epstein has to wear shades.

So that’s it in a nutshell really, hard to see the Celtics or Patriots winning anything in the next few years. However, it is very plausible to see the Red Sox ripping off a streak of World Series titles, with a stable of young studs and the financial backing to add the parts around those players to bring the shiny trophies home.


1 comment:

Josh G said...

Very nice article, and very true and to the point. I'm sure those days aren't going to be over forever, but we will need an influx of better players with the Sox and Pats if we plan on winning more championships. It kills me to say it, but right now, they're both playoff caliber teams, not championship teams.

Glad you liked the picture of Bard, but the credit belongs to katken.

Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

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