One of the things I’ve always looked forward to every Christmas – aside from consuming an unhealthy amount of pirogies and wondering who was going to finally get me that droid servant I’ve lusted after ever seeing it on Jabba’s barge – is Bob Ryan’s annual “State of the Teams,” when the longtime Globe columnist summarizes the annual health of each of the five professional sports teams in town.
This year, I expect Bob to use some semblance of the phrases, too old, too young, and dysfunctional to describe specific aspects of the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox, and Revolution to certain degrees.
I mean, let’s face it, on the whole, 2014 was a dud as far as our modern Boston sports standards are concerned. The Bruins were embarrassed in Game 7 against the Montreal Canadiens, no less, the Celtics are a rebuilding enigma, the Red Sox followed up a World Series title, which itself followed up a last-place finish, with another last-place finish, and appear to be taking the Professional Darts Players Association approach to creating a contender for 2015. Beyond that? Who the hell knows.
It’s the first year we’ve gone without a title since 2012, for crying out loud.
We jest only because, frankly, where the hell else would you rather be a sports fan in America? The Patriots are steamrolling their way back to Glendale, Ariz. to try and win another Super Bowl, the Revs took the L.A. Galaxy to the MLS title game, Boston University currently boasts the most dynamic college hockey player in the country, and hey, maybe most importantly, we even got Patrice Bergeron on the cover of a video game.
No, there were no duck boats, but there were plenty of ice buckets in the name of former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, whose frigid challenge grew into an international phenomenon over the summer. We said goodbye to Lester, Rondo, Mankins, and the Mayor. We ran the Marathon again. We serenaded Derek Jeter with an over-the-top Fenway ceremony so schlocky (sorry, 2cholcky) it made you feel for the poor guy.
But seeing as Christmas is a time of reflection, not to mention the most opportune time to appreciate everything for which you are thankful, it feels sort of silly to put 2014 into some sort of corner simply because no banners were raised, no T-shirts (aside from those spiffy AFC East numbers) were sold, or no Terry Cashman originals were penned.
It didn’t possess any of the inherent glory that Boston has draped itself in ever since the ball sailed through the uprights in New Orleans, nor did it bring with it any of the horror and emotion that 2013 delivered neither. From a sports perspective, it just…was. And that’s OK.
Maybe the Patriots can make 2014 a lot more memorable over the next-month plus, but if they do happen to lose in the AFC Championship game, their season will go down as just another missed opportunity to be lumped in Bill Belichick’s back closet like the party kegs in “Teen Wolf.” Their Gillette Stadium brothers excited a burgeoning fan base with their run to the final behind the acquisition of Jermaine Jones, but for non-Revolution fans, the chase felt like work to show that they actually cared. Or at least had a clue.
And so, heading into the new year, here is one man’s feeling on which teams face the best odds of bringing a title back to the Hub before Christmas comes again.
2. BU hockey.
3. Red Sox.
5. BC hockey.
7. Boston Cannons.
A few clarifications; the Red Sox with the third-best chance may seem foolish, but with a last-to-first pedigree already set in stone, the fact that they loaded up on offense on the left side of the infield, and that Rick Porcello may one day turn out to be the most underrated deal of the offseason, suggest a Renaissance isn’t that much of a stretch.
As for the Revs, they’re probably in luck now that owner Bob Kraft has his sights set on South Boston property for a new soccer stadium. That could mean more money sunk into premium talent like Jones in order to raise the relevancy of his soccer team and crate an easier path to get a stadium deal (mercifully, finally) accomplished.
The Bruins have appeared hopeless for long stretches of this season, but there’s too much talent on this team not to be able to be considered a playoff contender. But with no movement by Peter Chiarelli in order to acquire scoring, it’s going to be a short ride into April, and you can forget about May.
Not a knock on the Celtics, who to even the casual observer have been exciting to watch. This is just reality of the way it is in the NBA, where rebuilding is a chore not to be taken lightly.
It will be going on seven years since the Celtics last won a title, two for the Red Sox, four for the Bruins, and a whopping 10 for the Patriots, who remain the one local franchise that is always in the hunt for one more. Here we are again. Brady and Belichick making one more run at the thing with Revis and Gronk in tow.
I mean, it has been 15 months since the last parade down Boylston Street. Another five weeks won’t kill ya.