2013 seemed like the end of the world for Boston sports fans. The year before was full of heartbreak: Ray Allen’s departure from the Celtics, a Patriots’ loss in the Super Bowl (to New York, no less), the Red Sox had their first losing season since 1997, and we didn’t even have the Bruins to distract us. Our empire seemed to be crashing around us, and there was no end in sight. Even early 2013 was rough—with a AFC title loss to the Ravens and a first round loss to New York, yet again, in the NBA playoffs. But never fear, New England, because Boston is coming back with a vengeance.
Tuesday, news broke that Rob Gronkowski, a tight end for the New England Patriots, would finally be cleared to play next week, after sitting on the sidelines, recuperating from spinal surgery and other injuries. Last season, Gronkowski broke his arm in a playoff game against the Houston Texans and wasn’t able to play with the team in their loss to the Ravens. With the loss of Wes Welker, Gronkowski’s absence has been even more evident. And coming off an embarrassing loss to the Bengals, his recovery couldn’t be more timely. The Patriots’ offense has been struggling, to say the least. While much of that blame has fallen on Tom Brady, it’s not really his fault. He’s working with a limited number of options, and he’s quick to admit there’s room for improvement.
Sunday’s Saints matchup will be a great test for Gronkowski and the Patriots. New Orleans is still the strong and balanced team they were in 2009. With Brees at the helm and their defense winning them games, the Saints will be an even match for the Pats. Brees and Brady, while different in leadership styles, both are the lynchpin of their teams and make intelligent decisions on the field. With more options open, Brady can match Brees this weekend. As far as defense goes, we’ve been matching the Saints all season. With the irrefutable offensive drought, defense has kept the Pats alive thus far. I think that they’ve got a shot at a home win, but regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s match—the Pats are still looking at the playoffs.
And so are the Red Sox. Early Wednesday morning, the Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays to advance to the American League Championship Series. With the World Series in sight and coming fresh off a victory, the Sox are feeling good. Jake Peavy took the lead from Jon Lester in the final game against the Rays, and pitched over five innings. With three other talented pitchers behind Peavy and Lester, the Sox are looking strong against all batters, regardless of whether they’re from Oakland or Detroit.
Especially after last year’s losing record, their combeack is astounding. No one anticipated such a strong performance from the Red Sox after last year’s flop, but somehow, resolve and camaraderie, like that exemplified from Peavy, have propelled the Red Sox to the top of the field. With the Red Sox first, this Boston spirit can only keep spreading throughout the sports culture and fanbase of New England.
Now even though we can get excited about playoffs for the Sox, Pats, and Bruins, we can’t expect too much from the Celtics. After the giant Nets trade, our squad is young, inexperienced, and rallying behind a rookie coach in Brad Stevens. However, General Manager Danny Ainge knows what he’s doing. From his experience on the court, Ainge knows the importance of “out with the old and in with the new.” And he’s giving Stevens a chance to prove himself, with a 6-year contract and a bright-eyed squad. Rajon Rondo may be headlining the team, but Stevens has some up-and-coming talent too. Kris Humphries (known for his Kardashian fame, but he’s actually a decent ball player), Jared Sullinger, and Jeff Green are all intelligent, unselfish players, dedicated to rebuilding a squad worthy of the next Celtics dynasty. Hell, getting rid of punks like Rondo could be a blessing in disguise for rebuilding a tighter, less superstar-oriented team—more like what the championship Celtics look like.
So this year might not be stellar for the Celtics, but we’re rebuilding. Just like the rest of Boston, our fanbase can find comfort in the fact that we won’t have another 2012 anytime soon. Even if there are no rings, no championships, and no record-setting seasons, we’ve been and we’re holding Boston strong.