Boston was riding high for decades as the city of champions. In the matter of a year the same city was hit with some of the most influential losses to sine of their sports biggest stars. Let’s start from the beginning on this one. With a total of 38 banners hanging for the 4 major sports teams, whether you love or hate them, Boston is widely considered a winning city. Those 38 banners include 11 since the turn of the century. Nationally the media started to depict Boston as the villains of their respected leagues. No one city should be allowed the glory that Boston has been able to endure the last 20 years. The downfall of the city has been talked about year over year, with an end never really in sight. Of course all this glory did not come without criticism. Multiple cheating accusations, a city wide tradition being the target of a terror attack, as well as rowdy fans being disrespectful and harassing opposing players. Even yet throughout all the issues that occurred, it never seemed to break the focus of the city’s franchises.
Then came 2019, coming off a world series championship over the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018, the Red Sox once again had high expectations. Then the news broke of cheating in Houston with the Astros, who the Red Sox manager Alex Cora was a bench coach for in 2017 when the Astros won their World Series. More and more details kept coming out, some even stating that Cora was the mastermind behind all the alleged cheating that went on in that organization. While all the speculation and investigations went on, the Red Sox star player Mookie Betts’ contract was coming to a close and he looked to have quite a large number next to his name. The Red Sox at this point were over the luxury tax threshold and could not afford to resign their star player to a deal he felt suited his level of play. The Red Sox greatly under performed in 2019, going a measly 84-78. Not a bad record until you realize the team won a staggering 108 the previous year en route to a World Series. The Red Sox fired their GM Dave Dombrowski immediately following the season's end. That off season the first major domino in the collapse of Boston fell. Mookie Betts was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This sent shock waves through the city. Widely accepted as a top 3 player in the MLB was just traded away due to a lack of cap flexibility in a year where the team did not play how they were expected to. The city is in pain, and it can’t get much worse then this can it? I’m afraid it does only a week and a half later.
The dynasty. Every organization wishes to get itself to a point to where they can be called a dynasty. No dynasty will ever compare to the run the New England Patriots had. From 2001 to 2020 the Patriots had 6 Super Bowls, they were 17 time division winners, and made13 AFC Championship game appearances, and the greatest quarterback of all time, Thomas Edward Brady. Drafted in the 6th round 199th overall, it was widely expected that Brady and head coach Bill Belichick would go out together, or at least never leave the Patriots. Only 9 days after Mookie Betts was traded Tom Brady announced that he was leaving the Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs of all teams, they had the worst winning percentage of any team in any sport, and hadn’t made the playoffs in years. The Patriots then were notified by TE Rob Gronkowski that he wanted to return to the NFL, but only to play alongside Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. The Pats then traded Gronk at his request to the Buccaneers. The Bucs would then go on to win the Super Bowl the next year over the defending champion Chiefs. We all knew how that one was gonna go. The Patriots on the other hand, had their first loosing season in 20 years at 7-9 with one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Can’t get any worse than that right? Why don’t we jump forward just a little further than that shall we?
After the shut down of sports due to the pandemic and everything ending a little later then usual, the off season happened a little later than usual too. This off season the Bruins decided to move on from long time Captain Zdeno Chara. Chara spent 14 years in Boston, becoming a large piece of the community as well as anchoring the defensive unit for the Bs for years. Chara was a big part in 3 Stanley Cup appearances, including winning the 2011 Stanley Cup over the Vancouver Canucks. Chara, now 44, signed with the Washington Capitals on a veteran minimum. With all these key losses the future of the city of champions looked bleak.
Then something happened. The city didn’t give up and lose their winning mentality. The Patriots took their QB needs to the draft and selected Mac Jones. Mac, out of National Championship winning Alabama, along with a roster that has been rebuilt on the fly. The Patriots were the biggest spenders in free agency, spending a whopping $159,600,000 in the first 10 days. That mark actually set an NFL record for money spent in free agency. Starting free agency off the right way the Pats signed TE Jonnu Smith to a 4 year deal worth up to $50 million. Much considered at worst the second best TE of the free agency class, the Patriots had their first weapon. Later that same day it was announced that the Patriots would be signing former Raven Matthew Judon for $56 million over 4 years. That night the patriots also signed WRs Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. Quite the first day of free agency, but that wasn’t all. Day 2’s first big signing was again for the Patriots, this time the other top tight end available, Hunter Henry. Henry signed a 3 year deal totaling upwards of $37.5 million over that time. Along with a number of other role players and re-signings the Patriots look forward to 2021 and being in the conversation once again. (Not to mention the Patriots are currently the favorite to land Julio Jones)
Next to talk about it the only team I’ve yet to mention so far in this piece, the Celtics. The Celtics have been rather consistent over the past few years and have looked to keep that going. Headlined by young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics look to keep improving as they move forward. This season their conference race got stronger and the team did not take to continuing their stretch of success, finishing with a .500 record at 36-36 in the shortened 72 game season. Unfortunately Jaylen Brown is out for this playoff run with a wrist injury. Even with this injury it was enough for them to get the 7 seed but forced them to play in the NBA’s new play-in tournament. In which the Celtics beat the Washington Wizards by 18 in a game where Tatum dropped 50 points. Now currently in the second round the Celtics are down 2-1 at the time this article was written. In game 3 Tatum once again showed up in a big way, dropping another 50 points and securing the Celtics their first win of the second round. Tatum is truly showing out his talent level and shows just how bright the future is for this historic franchise.
The Red Sox are coming off an awful shortened 2020 season where they went 24-36, 4th worst in the MLB. Right out of the gates they were swept 3-0 by a widely accepted awful team in the Baltimore Orioles. Many fans who saw this thought the worst was in store yet again for their beloved team. Then they won their next 9 straight which catapulted them in the league lead best record for almost a full month. Most people expected this team to be in the basement once again but this team has shown more then just fight but love for the game as well. New face of the franchise Xander Bogaerts as well as Rafi Devers are having MVP type seasons early on and slugger J.D. Martinez has returned to form. Chaim Bloom, Red Sox GM since 2020 has brought in an influx of youth into their farm system while still building a team to win. Even with ace pitch Chris Sale sidelined for the foreseeable future, this team looks to continue to shock everyone betting against them.
Last but certainly not least, the Bruins had a streaky 2021. Coming off quite the let down last year in the bubble, the Bs looked to turn some heads this season and quite the doubters. The best way to describe the Bruins this past season was streaky. After battling injuries and game reschedules due to health and safety protocols the bruins finished with the third seed in the eastern division. They notched 73 points in 56 games, having to use 4 goalies over that time. Since coming back from injury starting net minder Tuukka Rask has looked sharp even though there have been rumors of his retirement ever since leaving the bubble for family reasons in 2020. While Tuuk was out with injury rookie Jeremy Swayman went 7-3-0 with a .945 save percentage and a goals against average of 1.50. Really great numbers from a goalie as young as he is. The Bruins two young stars also had themselves some really good seasons. Charlie McAvoy had 5 goals and 25 assists in 51 games while posting a 22 +/-. David Pasternak had 20 goals as well as 28 assists in 48 games this season. Pasta missed the first few weeks of the season with an injury from last season. In the first round of the playoffs this year the Bruins beat Zdeno Chara and the Washington Capitals in 5 games, quite possibly ending Chara’s career if he does so choose to retire at 44. In the Bruins first game of round 2 against the New York Islanders the Bruins won 5-2 including a hat trick from Pasta and the game winning goal from McAvoy.
There might not be any titles yet but that doesn't change a thing for the city of believers. Even with a large amount of changes for the city of Boston and it's teams, expect one thing not to change. The name of Title Town is not going anywhere.