Friday, January 30, 2015
It's been a nice century to be a Boston fan. I call it The Age of Being Wicked Awesome. Since 2001 we've seen the local teams win 8 championships (once every 22.5 months). They've appeared in the finals 13 times, and the semi-finals 20 times. Our 4 teams have qualified for the postseason 39 times, an average of 2.8 per year. And we as fans have been fortunate enough to enjoy our teams participating in 86 different rounds of playoff competition (6.1 per year).
It's really amazing. Especially for a fan like me, who was born in 1984, and came of age as a Boston fan in the lean 1990s. That decade saw Sox fans go nuts over winning the AL East in 1995, as if that were an amazing achievement. I remember watching the celebration on TV and asking my parents if the Red Sox had won the World Series. And if not, why was everyone so happy and why was Mo Vaughn riding a horse?
Three Cleveland Indians wins later and the 1995 season was over.
Boston also had a rally for the 1999 Sox because they won a playoff series. And even more embarrassing was June of 2001 when the City rallied to celebrate Ray Bourque winning a Stanley Cup in Colorado. The 1990s was the only decade in the 20th century that did not see a Boston team winning a championship.
Then Tom Brady and Bill Belichick came. Then new owners for the Red Sox came. Then an NHL salary cap came. Then Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen came. And the glory years began. The most glorious of glories came in 2004. The Patriots won the Super Bowl on February 1st of that year. Then the Red Sox broke the Curse and won the World Series on October 27. The Patriots won 21 games in a row, then won another Super Bowl in February of 2005.
Fourteen years. Three Super Bowls, three World Series, a Stanley Cup, and an NBA title. How many championship DVDs do you have in your collection? How many hats and t-shirts? How many hours have we been able to get together and watch great teams play playoff football/baseball/hockey/basketball?
Brady, Belichick, Pedro, Schilling, Papi, Garnett, Pierce, Allen, Rivers. David Roberts' steal, Adam Vinatieri's kicks, Tim Thomas' saves.
"All glory is fleeting." That's not a Debbie Downer warning. It's a reminder to have fun when fun things happen. It's a reminder to enjoy life when you can, because we don't know when there will be times like these again.
The Celtics are trying desperately to build a contending roster, so far with little to show for it. The Bruins have salary cap issues. The Red Sox are rebuilding. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are getting old. These joyous times might soon be coming to an end.
I'm not saying teams here won't win championships again, but this unprecedented ringfest seems like it might soon be simmering down. So hopefully the Patriots will win on Sunday, and put an exclamation point on this era. It seems fitting, as it was the Patriots in 2001 who initiated this Age of Being Wicked Awesome.
Photo Credit: Hans Gissinger for ESPN The Magazine
I have no issue with the League helping to clarify to the defense who is eligible and who is ineligible. I've heard Bill Belichick himself explain to media that it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to clearly hear what refs announce over stadium PA systems when you're on field level with 70,000 people screaming. So if the NFL wants to help the defense do their job, then so be it. Makes perfect sense.
What's odd is that there was no adjustment made for the conference championship games. And that the adjustment comes as the Patriots and the NFL find themselves in an adversarial position.
I'm not suggesting an anti-Patriots conspiracy in the aftermath of DeflateGate. But I do think DeflateGate might be a partial motivator of this change. The NFL wants this game on Sunday to be perceived to be as honest and clean as possible. While Belichick's ineligible trickery was within the rules, it worked because it was deceptive. In the wake of DeflateGate, the NFL might feel pressured (pun intended) to try to make the game appear to be as least deceptive as possible.
It's just so odd that this change wasn't made for the AFC and NFC title games. And that the League didn't wait until next season to implement it.
I'm trying to avoid jumping to conclusions, as everyone in sports media has been doing the last 2 weeks about Deflate Gate. I just wish/hope a reporter who has more access to decision-makers and league officials, can find it in themselves to ask the questions: Why now? Why not in the conference title games? If not in those games, why not next season?
I'm also very curious to know exactly when the NFL informed the Patriots and Seahawks about this new way of doing things. Was it before the teams started practicing for the Super Bowl? Or after? The answer to that question could either completely squash my interest in the subject, or intensify it. If the NFL told the teams early last week, then I'd accept that as fair and reasonable. But if it waited until the teams were in Arizona, and had already finished game-planning for the other, I'd question the timing.
There are few things in the Universe more annoying than a Patriots fan who is also a conspiracy theorist. The team here has won 3 rings, got caught cheating, and has still been close to winning a few more times, so whining and complaining should be kept to a minimum at all times. If the Pats lose on Sunday, I won't cry like the fans of so many other teams (See: Raiders). But the fact that the NFL decided to change how the officials announce eligible and ineligible receivers on the eve of the Super Bowl, and NOT for the AFC and NFC title games, strikes me as very odd.
Unlike some professional sports media in some recent stories, this amateur blogger won't jump to conclusions. Right now, I just have questions.
Photo Credit: Steven Senne/AP Photo
The Bruins won 5-2 behind a stellar performance by Tuukka Rask. But as stellar as Rask was, for some reason his efforts did not merit being named the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd star. Nevertheless, the Bruins goalie stopped 43 of 45 shots, a season high in saves. And one of those saves might be the stop of the season.
That save was a cold-blooded stoning. I can't even imagine how demoralizing it was for the Islanders. You have an open net to shoot at, and Tuukka Rask just goes "SUCK MY STICK!" Yeah, that's a big wide paddle, and he knows how to use it.
The Bruins have 33 games left on their schedule. They're 7 points behind Tampa Bay for the division and conference lead. That's a very surmountable deficit. Right now the focus has to be on making the playoffs. So for the Bruins it's all about points. Two points on Long Island is pretty good (the Islanders are 17-5-0 at home this year). Next the B's host the Kings on Saturday, who aren't very good this year and have only won 5 road games.
This is the time to accumulate points. The Kings struggle on the road, so beat them.
Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images