MVP: Boston fans
This one goes to the fans.
This was the nearly the best of times and partly the worst of times for Boston sports fans.
The Patriots came within one Wes Welker catch of icing the Super Bowl. They were in the game until the final play of the game, when Rob Gronkowski came up about two feet short of Tom Brady's Fail Mary tipped pass in the end zone. They also experienced another crushing last-minute-or-two Super Bowl loss at the hands of the Giants. There was plenty of comic relief at the expense of Butt-Fumble and the Jets.
The Celtics went beyond anyone's expectations, but they blew a chance to once-and-for-all end the dynasty that the Miami Heat, LeBron James and now Ray Allen have under construction in Miami.
The Bruins, who began the year as defending champions of the hockey universe, have turned into dust, along with the rest of the NHL.
Then there were the Red Sox. As individual players, a team and an organization, the Red Sox did everything in their power to alienate their fans. They succeeded beyond anyone's wildest nightmares—with things going nuclear following the death of Johnny Pesky.
It was hard to pinpoint a lowpoint this season. Was it the blown nine-run lead against the Yankees in April? Was it the four-home-runs-in-four-plus-inning performance by Jon Lester on July 22 against Toronto. Was it Beckett's screw-you golf outing in May? Was it his early "pulled backfat" exit against the Tigers? How about all of Valentine's escapes? Lest we forget the 20-2 loss to the A's on Aug. 31, when three former members of the team (George Kottaras, Brandon Moss, and Josh Reddick) combined for three home runs and 13 RBI? (Trivia Note: newcomers Stephen Drew and Jonny Gomes added three hits and three RBI.) How about the daily dysfunction in the clubhouse?
Surpassing all of that, the initial disrespect demonstrated by the players who passed on attending Pesky's funeral (four players did attend) and the justifiable outrage it unleashed among fans was unseen in my lifetime. It was partly that anger that fueled such a positive reaction to the Great Salary Dump, which occurred just days after news broke of the Pesky snub. The Red Sox and their players got it right at the beautiful memorial service on Sept. 23.
The return of "Our Father's Red Sox" dispelled the recently created myth, perpetrated by the team in large part, that Red Sox fans were all "Sweet Caroline" singing fools who believe in Wally, "Fenway 100" coffee-table books and Bobby Valentine's management skills.
Despite all the teasing ups and all-too-real downs, the fans stuck it out. In the case of the Red Sox and the NHL, the fans didn’t give up on their teams or their leagues, the teams and their league gave up on their fans. While Patriots’ fans are bit too quiet at Gillette, they have no trouble making plenty of noise on the road. And while the Celtics have entered a bridge year of sorts, interest and passion remains solid.
The Fans were clearly Boston's best performers in 2012.
For their sake, let's hope things change in 2013.