The Demise of Boston Area Sports?

By Geoff Ratliff

History has taught us that no dynasty rules forever. So as I opened up my mailbox last week and gazed at the cover of the October 3rd issue of ESPN the Magazine, I couldn’t help but wonder if they were a few months behind the curve on this article?

As recently as three months ago, the Bruins were fresh off their Stanley Cup victory and the Red Sox were riding high atop the AL East. However, within mere days of the release of “The Mag,” The Sox’ kamikaze mission to vanish from the playoffs altogether could be days away, and the New England Patriots just suffered a Buster Douglas-esque blow from the Buffalo Bills, falling to their little brothers in the AFC East for the first time in 16 games. The Bruins are probably not the favorites to defend their Cup title next spring, and this is to say nothing about Father Time taking his toll on my beloved Celtics. It appears that just as soon as Boston got its swagger back, turning into the annoying New York fans that they have despised  for so long, the sports Gods may have decided to shut this party down a little early; but as Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend!”

The Patriots and Red Sox have both proven themselves to be among the best run organizations in their respective sports over the past decade or so; long enough track records to suggest that their demises aren’t coming any time soon. Tom Brady throwing four interceptions in a game is as rare as a solar eclipse, and the outcome of the game was still up in the air until the final minute, so pardon me if I don’t get too caught up in a week three stumble against a hungry, upstart team, with legitimate offensive weapons, playing in front of a college-type home crowd. The Pats will be players in January, so talk to me again then.

Even if the Red Sox hang on to their wild card position, I’m not certain their rotation is solid enough to carry them through a sustained postseason run, however, what AL team does have a dependable trio of starters that hasn’t been knocked around recently? The Sox still have the best lineup of any potential AL playoff contender so it wouldn’t shock me in the least to see them shake this slump off and make their third World Series appearance in the past eight seasons. Even if they don’t, there were enough things that went wrong for this team in 2011 that lead me to believe that, even if they stand pat in the off-season, they should come into 2012 as the AL favorite with a healthy Clay Buchholz and the “real” Carl Crawford.

The Bruins overcame a brutal recent playoff history to finally break through and bring back a title that was forty years in the making. If the Penguins get even a half season out of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin is able to return to 100% sometime this year, then Boston might only be the fourth best team in their Conference, behind the Pens, the Ovechkin-led Capitals, and the Flyers. But with Tim Thomas back in net, and a solid core around him, there’s no reason to believe that the Bruins won’t be back in the hunt this year.

As for the Celtics? Well, the writing has been on the wall for a couple of years now as the NBA version of Wild Hogs prepares to take its final journey together. Two finals appearances and a ring are probably more than any fan could have asked for during the run of the “Big 3”, especially after suffering a nearly twenty year title drought. Boston clearly will not be one of the favorites entering this season, assuming we have one, but a shortened season could give them one last shot at this thing, and the expiring contracts of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett will give the C’s some room to work with next summer as they attempt to rebuild around Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce without missing a beat.

I know that years of misery and heart-break have made cynics out of you Boston loyalists, but don’t let this recent bump in the road get you too worried. You are blessed with not one, but four, extremely well run franchises, an unprecedented accomplishment in the history of professional sports, so it’s very likely that you’ll have another title or two coming through the pipeline in the very near future.

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