Penguins and Tigers and Broncos.
If it hasn’t already reached a certain level of absurdity, this unparalleled success for Boston’s professional sports teams, perhaps this is the tipping point into ridiculousness. Sunday will mark the third time in the last year that a local team has played for the right to go to the title game or series. The Bruins beat Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference finals before falling to the Blackhawks. The Red Sox beat Detroit en route to their win over St. Louis in the World Series. And now the Patriots travel to Denver for the AFC Championship game, with a berth in the Super Bowl on the line.
Of course, when the Pats won the first of their three Super Bowls during the 2001 season, it broke a streak of 15 championship-less years in Boston, a period that was the longest such drought in the city’s professional sports history in half a century (16 years between the Bruins’ 1941 Stanley Cup win and the Celtics’ first title in 1957). Granted, much of that is owed to the Celtics, who dominated the NBA for the better part of three decades, but these days it’s everybody’s party.
Today, the longest drought since the first Super Bowl win? It was a whole three years between the Celtics winning the NBA title in 2008 and the Bruins taking home the Stanley Cup in 2011. Boo hoo. Denver’s last title came when John Elway was suiting up for the Broncos, 16 years ago.
Thirteen years, eight titles. What we have in front of us now is a chance for the Patriots to re-claim their dominance with a fourth title, which would break the tie they currently claim with the reigning World Series champion Red Sox. The all-time tally is at 35 (yes, including the Braves), with 36 a very real possibility.
For that to happen, the Pats face their two most difficult hurdles of the season in both the Broncos and one of the 49ers or Seahawks.
But, we’ll get there in due time. For now, bask in the matter than no other American city has it even remotely as good as Boston. Since the 2001 Super Bowl Boston teams have played in a championship game or series 12 times. Twelve. That’s almost an average of once per year. That’s not supposed to happen.
Except here. We are the bane of every other professional sports city because of our good fortune. There’s always one more on the horizon. Maybe it’s in Jersey next month. Maybe it comes on the Garden ice in June. Maybe it plays out with the first back-to-back World Series wins in Boston since 1915-16, 99 years ago.
The only mystery it seems to be is when, not if. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have one more in them. Is it finally time? Can Tuukka Rask survive the Olympics enough to go on another deep run? Is John Lackey really the guy we saw last fall?
We just have it better, and that’s something to never be taken for granted.
Let’s go for nine, shall we?