7 things to look forward to in Boston sports in 2023

Some young and exciting players look poised to get even better while a pair of teams have championship hopes in 2023.

Jayson Tatum and the Celtics certainly give Boston sports fans a lot to be hopeful about in 2023. Erin Clark/Globe Staff

The last calendar year brought many ups and downs in Boston sports.

The Patriots suffered a playoff loss for the ages to a division rival at the start of 2022 and found a more embarrassing way to lose at the end of the year as they’re 7-8 this season. The Red Sox took a major step back following 2021 and finished in last place in the division before losing a fan favorite in free agency.

On the bright side, the Bruins got off to a great start to the regular season following a first-round playoff exit (though they made one of the more controversial signings in recent sports history in November). The Celtics were somehow great from start to finish in 2022. They had a midseason turnaround for the ages that led to an NBA Finals run and look motivated to avenge the loss as they hold the league’s best record entering 2023.


Even though 2022 didn’t bring a title to Boston, it was certainly an interesting year. And 2023 looks to be the same. Here are seven things to look forward to in Boston sports in the upcoming year.

Brayan Bello and Triston Casas’ first full season in the majors.

As things stand, there isn’t much to be excited about for the upcoming Red Sox season.

They’re coming off a 78-win year and might have gotten worse with homegrown All-Star and fan favorite Xander Bogaerts leaving as well as recent All-Stars Nathan Eovaldi and J.D. Martinez. Things also don’t look too great for Rafael Devers’s possible long-term future in Boston, either.

But you can always find some diamonds in the rough — and the Red Sox might have two shiny ones. Bello and Casas are considered to be the Red Sox’ two best prospects to reach the big league since Devers in 2017. Both showed flashes in 2022, too.

Bello went 2-8 in 13 starts with a 4.71 ERA. However, he might have been a bit unlucky as he had a 2.94 FIP and he also got better with each start. Bello had a 2.59 ERA over 31.1 innings pitched over his final six starts of the season. The 23-year-old is probably Boston’s best hope of having a homegrown ace since Jon Lester — and 2023 might show if he can pitch to that level or not.


As for Casas, he hit .197 with a .766 OPS but hit five home runs in 95 at-bats. His 19 at-bats per home run would’ve ranked in the top 25 in the majors last season and certainly doesn’t appear to be a fluke after he hit 25 homers over 158 games in Double-A and Triple-A.

Big events coming to town.

Boston will host one of the more unique events in sports to open 2023 — and I’m not talking about Sunday’s Patriots-Dolphins game in which the quality likely won’t match the stakes of the game.

The Winter Classic is at Fenway Park again, where the Bruins and Penguins will play on Jan. 2. The Bruins have hosted the Winter Classic twice before, beating the Flyers at Fenway in 2010 and losing to the Canadiens at Gillette Stadium in 2016.

Late in the year, the Army-Navy Game will be played at Gillette Stadium in December. It marks the first time that the historic college football rivalry game will be played in Massachusetts.

Obviously, there are still the annual big sporting events that will take place, like the Beanpot in February and the Head of the Charles in October.

We could also find out if more big sporting events are coming to Boston in the near future in 2023, too. The Celtics are reportedly planning to make a bid to host the NBA All-Star Game in either 2025 or 2026 while the Red Sox are a candidate to host the MLB All-Star Game in either 2025 or 2027.

The continued growth of the Patriots’ young defensive players.

There have been some pleasant things about the 2022 Patriots, though pretty much all of it is on the defensive side of the ball.


Kyle Dugger continued to progress as one of the leaders of the defense in his third season, recording 67 total tackles, two interceptions, and a pick-6 in 13 games so far this season. Josh Uche had the breakout that many hoped for a bit, recording 11.5 sacks in the final eight games of the calendar year.

A pair of rookies have also brought excitement to the Patriots’ defense this season. Cornerback Jack Jones brought a flair we haven’t seen out of any Patriots player in a while when he said it was “disrespectful” to throw an out route on him following his pick-6 against the Packers. He was also graded as one of the best corners in the game through the first half of the season by Pro Football Focus.

Marcus Jones became the second player in NFL history to record a punt return, a receiving, and an interception for a touchdown of at least 40 yards each — and he did it as a rookie! He also was solid in coverage against Davante Adams in their loss to the Raiders in December.

Christian Barmore’s potential breakout season was at least put on pause after he suffered a knee injury in October that cost him two months of game action. The second-year defensive tackle was active though in his first game back from injury, recording a few tackles and a half-sack against the Raiders.

An improved Patriots offense.

It can’t get worse, can it?

New England’s offense ranks in the bottom 10 in many stats and metrics this season, including dead last in red zone efficiency. So, it could technically get worse but there is some room for optimism considering that the offense that had many of the same players in 2021 ranked in the top 10 in many metrics, too.


Obviously, the big thing is who will run the offense in 2023. After Josh McDaniels’s departure, Matt Patricia has had a rough year as the offensive play-caller. Reports indicate that a reunion with Bill O’Brien is inevitable, so that would seem to be a step in the right direction at least.

Mac Jones’ second season has left a lot to be desired and many have wondered if he might be “broken” after what’s happened this year. But when he operated under McDaniels in 2021, he looked at least looked like a competent quarterback and finished second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting because of it. He’s also played a bit better since the Patriots’ bye week this season, posting a passer rating of at least 100 in three of the six games prior to Sunday’s matchup against the Dolphins.

Unlike their defensive counterparts, the Patriots’ rookies haven’t been too great. Cole Strange seemed to prove doubters wrong in the first half of the season, but had a rough middle stretch of the season that saw him get benched twice, and hasn’t been too sharp since then. Tyquan Thornton’s been pretty quiet since his two-touchdown performance against the Browns in Week 6. Maybe both will have better Year 2’s?

The Patriots are also projected to have north of $50 million in cap space this upcoming offseason and a potentially high first-round pick, which could hopefully be used to fix their issues at offensive tackle and receiver.

Whether the Bruins can make history or not?

There’s no denying it, the Bruins have been the best team in hockey in the 2022 part of the 2022-23 season. They enter 2023 with a league-best 60 points, six more than the second-place Hurricanes, and are on pace for roughly 136 points — which would be the ever in a season in NHL history.


Most would probably guess that the Bruins are due to cool off at some point, but what if they don’t? They’ve already set a record this season by having the most consecutive home victories to start a year and that was mostly without Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy in the lineup.

Maybe Boston slows it down a bit to help keep Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Brad Marchand in good shape for the playoffs. And as we all know, winning the Presidents’ Trophy isn’t a good omen for your chances to win a Stanley Cup title. At the very least though, the Bruins’ potential quest for history is one of the big things to keep track of in the Boston sports scene during the winter months.

Jayson Tatum’s quest to win MVP.

The other thing that many Boston fans have to look forward to over the cold and bitter winter months is the Celtics, who also hold the best record in the NBA, and how well they can play before the playoffs.

Obviously, after losing the NBA Finals last season, a lot of people’s expectations for the team likely won’t be answered until at least the springtime.

Until then though, Tatum’s hopes to win MVP should at least keep fans tuned into the Celtics — among other things. Only four players in Celtics history have won the award, with the last being Larry Bird in 1986.

Tatum’s the betting favorite to win the award entering 2023, scoring a career-high 31 points per game, and has been a consistent force defensively. If Tatum can keep it up and the Celtics hold the best record at the end of the regular season, it’d be tough to deny him of the award.

The Bruins’ and Celtics’ potential title runs.

TD Garden could be the center of the sports universe come late spring.


As mentioned earlier, both the Bruins and Celtics hold the best records in their respective leagues and there should be optimism that they can keep it up. If they can and both reach the finals, it’d be the first time since 2003 that an arena has hosted both the Stanley Cup Finals and NBA Finals in the same. The old Boston Garden actually had it happen three times (1957, 1958, and 1974).

Maybe we’re getting too ahead of ourselves here, but it’s pretty clear what the stakes are for both teams entering the new year. For the Celtics, they’re looking to finally get over the hump after a disappointing six-game loss in the Finals to the Warriors last season. A Finals win could set them up to be something bigger considering the ages of Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams.

For the Bruins, this might be their best chance to win a title for some time. Patrice Bergeron contemplated retirement last offseason while David Krejci and Brad Marchand aren’t getting any younger. They might have some players who could help them make a Stanley Cup run beyond 2023, but David Pastrnak, the most important player to potentially making that happen, is a free agent at year’s end.

No matter what happens though, we’re in store for another exciting year of Boston sports.


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