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2014 State of Union in Boston Sports: Strong, vulnerable

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan  January 28, 2014 09:51 PM

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President Obama delivered his fifth official State of the Union Address Tuesday night. We decided it was time to follow suit and do the same, like we've done in the past. The Super Bowl is Sunday - minus the Patriots. Truck Day is a week away. The NHL is about to enjoy an Olympic-inspired hiatus. The Celtics, well, they're playing, too. This is good time to take a break and look ahead into the new year.

Boston Globe staffers Chad Finn and Scott Thurston offered their "State of the Union" address earlier Wednesday.

Here's our official OBF Annual State of the Union offering, even though we probably agree with Chad and Scott on a lot of stuff.

The State of our Union is strong.

Boston's pro sports teams are in the process of taking their "Decade of Dominance" and turning it into a "Score of Success."

We are less than three months removed from the last Duck Boat parade, thanks to the Red Sox and their Worst-To-First World Series Cup Championship. The Ghost of a Shirtless Mike Napoli can still be heard howling on windy nights in the Back Bay.

The Patriots over-achieved and reached the AFC Championship Game with Bill Belichick pasting together a "next-man-up defense" and Tom Brady throwing to Hobbits and rookies. The first-place Bruins have stabilized. Peter Chiarelli and Cam Neely have assembled another Stanley Cup contender. The Celtics win every time they lose. Ping Pong balls have become more important than points.

Fan and media interest remains at never-before-seen levels. Multiple print, broadcast, digital and social outlets constantly buzz with talk about the Patriots' woes, the Red Sox rotation, the Bruins' issues on defense and whom the Celtics might take in the first round. Coffers are flush with cash on Yawkey Way, down in Foxborough and at both ends of TD Garden. Boston's teams have won eight championships in this century, and came within a Game 7 loss and pair of crushing Super Bowl defeats to winning three more.

This is an era that will make our children's grandchildren envious.

We are knee-deep in the Golden Age of Boston Sports.

Not even acts of sheer cowardice and terror that took three wonderful souls and injured hundreds of others on Patriots' Day, and later cost MIT Officer Sean Collier his life, could dent the city's march to sports omnipotence. Boston's sports teams used their civic clout and fundraising prowess to lead the way in the region's collective emotional recovery. The 2014 Boston Marathon will be the largest and most-watched running in the race's 100-plus year history. Millions will watch thousands of runners show the universe that indeed you "don't [bleep] with 'our [bleeping] city.'"

Even the failures on our sports scene have been historic and riveting. The Red Sox became a much bigger story in 2011 and 2012, than those teams that reached the post season with limited success a few years earlier. Then, after the team crashed during the Nuclear Winter, they shocked the everyone but themselves by winning the World Series a year after finishing 24 games under .500.

The Celtics continue to whither and are incapable of producing much offense. But with each loss, there is hope for change that will come in the 2014 NBA Draft.

A New Frontier awaits Brad Stevens and whatever team Danny Ainge can assemble in the next year or two.

We have not been without scandal or tragedy off the field. Aaron Hernandez stands accused of ending one man's life in cold blood and may soon be implicated in the deaths of two others. While we search for the truth of what led to these alleged crimes, credit the Patriots for cutting ties with him before his arrest while you question their priorities in signing him to such a lucrative contract.

Sound fiscal policies have laid the foundation for this historic success on the field. There's no Balanced Budget Amendment governing the finances of our teams. Just economic common sense and the unquenchable passion of millions of fans across New England who pump their hard-earned dollars into $150 tickets, $9 beers and $50 parking spots. The teams, for the most part, have moved beyond the reckless spending of recent years and are not bankrupting their future at the expense of the present. Thanks to a bailout from the Dodgers, the Red Sox were able to rebuild and resuscitate their franchise in one season.

Our nation owes a great debt to you, Magic Johnson.

While the State of Our Union is strong, it is also vulnerable. The Red Sox demonstrated how quickly a franchise can implode in the eyes of its fans. The Patriots are one devastating injury to Tom Brady from the inevitable "rebuilding process." The Bruins are not afraid to take risks, but there's no guarantee the Tyler Seguin trade will not haunt them in the years to come. And Tuukka Rask remains stuck on 14. Bruins fans know what we mean.

But that vulnerability is not a reason to be timid. Rather, it is the impetus for action. For the Red Sox and Patriots, that time for action is now.

The Patriots and Bob Kraft have taken austerity to an extreme. The NFL prints money like the U.S. Treasury. And as we know, Tom Brady's Biological Clock is ticking faster then the Federal Debt Scoreboard.

It is time for the Patriots to go all-in when it comes to building a team around their first-ballot Hall of Fame QB, whose Super Bowl winless streak will hit 10 years next season. The need for a deep-threat target over 5-feet tall who won't be injured, or in jail, is glaring. Whether the answer is Larry Fitzgerald, Eric Decker, Anquan Boldin, Hakeem Nicks, someone else, or any combination, it is clear that this need must be met.

The Patriots were about $7 million under the salary cap last season. Kraft's net worth is $2.9 billion. It's time to redistribute some of that wealth to his football team so that Brady will have one all-out shot at a championship.

Kraft grew up in Boston. He saw the Braves leave town as boy and knows the sorry history of his franchise. Patriots fans will be forever grateful for his reign and a stadium that doesn't leak beneath the stands when it rains. About the only thing that will make New England fans turn on the Patriots would be the perception that the team did not do all it could to give Brady the best shot at one more Super Bowl ring.

We speak not from the motivation of greed, but from the fear of not seeing Brady given every legitimate chance possible to win another championship. To waste a talent such as his would truly be a Football Sin.

For the Red Sox, their next substantial move should come swiftly in the form of a long-term, market-rate deal for Jon Lester. Lester won the clinching game in the 2007 World Series and shut down the Cardinals twice this past October. The Red Sox lefty, who is 3-0 in the World Series, has allowed just one run in 21 innings while pitching in the Fall Classic. He is the type of pitcher generations of Red Sox fans have dreamed about but haven't seen since Babe Ruth.

Lester said he will take a hometown discount to stay in Boston. Of course, that's a discount from the mind-bending 7-year, $215 million deal Clayton Kershaw got from Magic and Dodgers. Not a discount from what the Yankees paid untested in the Western Hemisphere Masahiro Tanaka. That figure, $155 million over seven years, may be what it will take to keep Lester in Boston. In any case, given the market conditions in 2014, Lester is now a $20-million-a-year pitcher.

Sign him for a fair price and do it soon.

We see change already in 2014. The beards will be gone in Fort Myers when the Red Sox report in a couple of weeks. No doubt there will be the typical turnover in the NFL offseason. The NBA Draft will be the highlight of the Celtics' season. And the Bruins won't be able to mark progress in the postseason until they win at least three games in the Stanley Cup Finals.

While the current overall path has proven successful time and again, there is no reason to settle for the status quo. Just a few major moves, and some minor adjustments, could leave the city's sports teams and their fans with even more to cheer about in the next decade than they have enjoyed in the last one.

God Bless.

Boston Strong.

Thank You.

Got a news tip, want to let me know directly what you think, or have a complaint or compliment about my "aggressively relevant" content, hit me up on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or e-mail me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com. Thanks always for reading and pass the clicker.

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Obnoxious Boston Fan offers a fun, unique and biting perspective on the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, Patriots and whatever else people are talking about in the world of sports. We More »
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