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Golden age gets richer

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff June 18, 2008 10:38 AM

So, thatís six in six years.

Before the Patriots won their first Super Bowl title earlier this decade, you had to go back to 1972 to count the last six sports titles in town. Thatís 30 years compared to what weíve been privy to in six.

It is a statement so obvious that to but utter takes no more intelligence than it takes to determine day or night. But this is the Golden Age of Boston Sports.

Six titles since January 2002: Three Super Bowls, two World Series, and now an NBA Championship.

Et tu, Mr. Jacobs?

We can begin the argument as to which was the more unlikely title, the Patriotsí first Super Bowl win or this latest triumph courtesy of the Celtics, although Iíd argue fiercely for the former thanks in part to the sudden emergence of a second-string quarterback leading the way. This Celtics team, you had to have at least some sort of inkling about once Danny Ainge re-vamped the roster in a house cleaning that dramatically changed the way we thought about the long-downtrodden franchise.

Last night, the final chapter had its say in a blowout win that allowed the Garden party to start early, continuing into a June night that this town hasnít seen the likes of in 22 years.

Dare to think it, perish to say it, but when does it all end? When does Boston go back to being merely a damn good sports town, yet one that doesnít have the luxury of bathing in an embarrassment of title hardware?

Not any time soon for sure. These Celtics are likely to be in the same position as they were this time around, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo, and (hopefully) James Posey back for more. The Red Sox (yeah, remember them?) have done little thus far this season to lose faith in a possible World Series repeat, and have a never-ending influx of young talent that suggests a Brave-like run, albeit with the titles, you know. The Patriots are coming off the worst choke-job in their history, denied the perfect season. You think theyíll have something to prove?

Since 2002, weíve gone just two calendar years without witnessing a Duck Boat parade; 2003, when the Red Sox were on the verge of the World Series, and 2006, when the Patriots were knocked out in Denver. The first year gave us the Patriotsí win over the Rams, 2004 saw another title in Houston. Later that year, the Red Sox broke an 86-year drought in a playoff season to which all others will find themselves inferior. In 2005, another Super Bowl win. In 2007, another World Series.

Now, this. It makes the miserable 90ís seem all the more distant.

Obviously, the next step to take here would have to be the Grand Slam of the four major sports, something Boston has never seen. That would take the Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins all finishing their current or upcoming seasons with trophies. How insanely ridiculous is it that only the Bruins stand in the way of that not only being a serious reality, but something youíd be willing to lay more than a few bucks on right now?

We completely expect the Red Sox and Patriots to be there in the end. Not hope. Expect. No other town in America can even fathom what that feels like.

Boston does. Not Chicago. Not New York. Not Los Angeles. Boston.

Yes, it was a town mostly known for bemoaning in misery, for a woe-is-us culture that defined it as dedicated, yet almost proud in defeat. But that was as about an erroneous assumption as there could be. With heart and passion comes heartache and despair when the object of desire is ousted short of its goal. Misery? Thatís dedication, son, something youíd be hard-pressed more prevalent in any other city than Boston when it comes to sports.

Of course, with victory comes more chest-thumping obnoxiousness from Bostonians, who know theyíre the target of everyoneís jealousy, and wonít stop from letting it be known to everyone else in question. With every title this city stacks up, thereís just a bit more envy, a bit more hate directed toward anything Sox, Pats, or Cís-related. Thatís the price we pay for glory, a small, yet growing annoyance that promises to burst at some point down the road.

Let them hate you. They have not what youíve got to taste, and who knows how much longer youíll have it on the table. After all, the 90ís actually werenít that long ago, you know. The highlight that decade: A Super Bowl appearance.

Yes, kids. Ten years without a title. The horror.

In actuality, it was even worse. The Patriotsí 2002 win over the Rams broke a 16-year title drought. That happened to be, believe it or not, one of the longest in Boston sports history. And yes, some of us are actually old enough to have lived through such dark days.

Sixteen years, can you imagine? These days, a two-year drought is unfathomable.

Itís the Golden Age of Boston Sports. Donít expect it to end anytime soon.

22 comments so far...
  1. Lakers: champs in 2000, 2001, 2002
    Angels: champs in 2002
    USC: champs in 2003, 2004

    Six championships in 4 years!

    Posted by 80s Lakers June 18, 08 02:14 PM
  1. Last night was great. I couldn't have asked for a better ending. Critics were silenced, and the C's had it locked up early enough to the point where all could relax and bask in the glory that is Banner 17. May God continue to bless the Boston sports teams:)

    Posted by ADulany June 18, 08 02:25 PM
  1. 80s Lakers, vintage comment right there. Taking credit for the ANAHEIM Angels World Series win is the best part. It's half an hour away. That's like San Francisco fans celebrating about the Raiders or A's winning it all, but yet it's not as ridiculous as at least SF and Oakland are closer than LA and Anaheim.

    Also, nice touch throwing in the USC titles, which by the way is a private university and not a state school. Should Boston fans include BC's NCAA Hockey title among their championships? Of course not, that would be pathetic. Good luck crying into your Pinot Grigio and Spicy Tuna Hand Roll, pal. Go Celtics!!!

    Posted by internet_king June 18, 08 02:52 PM
  1. Its a shame that the Celtics run has overshadowed the biggest sports story of the summer.....HAZEL MAE IS LEAVING!!!!. Why dont the Red Sox just blow up the Green Monster seats and stop playing Sweet Caroline.....They are KILLING tradition. Hazel has been here since I can remember. It wont be the same sitting at Game On drinking a Stoli Vanilla and Diet Coke watching pregame with Kathyrn Tappen...she is no Hazel!!!! Dont get me wrong I did enjoy this Celtics run, I got a throwback pink Gary Bird shirt, its the bomb. Can you start a "MAE MUST STAY" rally going Eric??? That would be GINORMIOUS!!!! I am outie.

    Posted by Caroline P. Hat June 18, 08 02:52 PM
  1. I'm sorry, after checking with the judges, we're inclined to allow the 2002 Angels championship (you can even throw in the Mighty Ducks and their 2007 Stanley Cup), but the USC titles cannot be included.

    College championships--especially those won by universities that are private and located in cities where major professional sports teams also play (unlike, say, Lincoln, Nebraska, where the Cornhuskers are the only game in the entire state)--are the personal and private domain of the students, employees and alumni of that particular university. It's fine to be a "fan" of a particular college sports team, even if you didn't attend the school or work there, but to claim their accomplishments as the city's accomplishments is too much of a stretch.

    Heck, we all were happy (except B.U. alumns) when BC's hockey team won it all last March, but I wouldn't even dream of claiming that title for the entire city (especially since at least half of the college hockey fans in town hate BC).

    Posted by Tony June 18, 08 03:18 PM
  1. Internet_ King, The New England Patriots are not technically a Boston based team either hence their name. Maybe we should minus the three Superbowl championships from the Boston count? Your's Truly,

    Posted by Mercury Morris June 18, 08 03:26 PM
  1. Tony, after further review LA does NOT get to claim the Angels and Ducks. They have the Dodgers and Kings.

    Posted by Mercury Morris June 18, 08 03:49 PM
  1. Mercury Morris...witty comment! By the way there is not an apostrophe in "yours truly", I'm surprised a smart fellow such as yourself wouldn't catch that. Anyway, I'd be inclined to agree with you if there was an NFL franchise in Boston in addition to the Patriots, or if Foxboro was a major city which is the home to multiple sports franchises. However, neither is the case.

    Last I checked, Los Angeles and Anaheim are entirely separate cities which are over 30 minutes apart. Ever been to either? BTW you can't count the time that you played a double header at both Dodger Stadium and Edison Field in Sports Talk Baseball on Sega Genesis. How many Hostess Fruit Pies did you take down during that doubleheader again? I remember it being quite impressive.

    Posted by internet_king June 18, 08 04:13 PM
  1. Internet_king, see my comments about LA/ Anaheim above. HaHa LA and Anaheim only 30 minutes apart? What universe do you live in. One hour minimum any time you make that drive these days dude. Hey Merc says, get out and STAY OUT of my neighborhood. Signed, 18-1*

    Posted by Mercury Morris June 18, 08 04:47 PM
  1. Mercury, apparently in the friendly confines of your Mom's basement, "over" and "only" mean the same thing. I didn't realize I was expected to factor in the afternoon commute when commenting on distance.

    I must give you credit, however, as the Patriots disappointing finish this season just shows how difficult it is to maintain the undefeated run of ten or so years which Los Angeles and Anaheim's NFL teams have enjoyed.

    Posted by internet_king June 18, 08 05:16 PM
  1. Internet King:

    While there's plenty to chortle about here, including the comments of Mercury Morris, there's no reason to imagine a link between being "smart" & punctuation.

    You might even be considered a case in point.

    Stay out of my neighborhood too...

    (Fruit Pies?)

    Posted by Regicide June 18, 08 05:22 PM
  1. wow, what a bunch of losers.

    Posted by just enjoying it June 18, 08 08:05 PM
  1. . "The Patriots are coming off the worst choke-job in their history, denied the perfect season."

    AGAIN, the Patriots did not "choke". They were beat, plain and simple. For choking, see 2004 NY Yankees, 2008 NBA Finals Game 4 (LA), 1986 World Series Red Sox.

    Posted by Classless Concepts June 18, 08 11:15 PM
  1. I guess we can give credit to LA for both of the Anaheim/Disney championships, and even the USC ones while we are at it, and the 2005 MLS Cup won by the Galaxy giving them eight in the last four years.

    It's only fair, cause they couldn't support two NFL teams while they had them in the 80's and 90's. And the last decadehave been trying the last decade and failing to land a new franchise, despite the efforts of their governor. The 2008 NFL season will be L.A.'s fourteenth year with no franchise, thus eclipsing Oakland for the longest duration in the modern era that a former NFL city has lacked a franchise.

    Nice work.

    Posted by Roger Goodell June 19, 08 08:22 AM
  1. Sorry, eight in the last eigth years.. forgot LA itself hasn't won a true championship since 2002.

    Posted by Mr. Goodell June 19, 08 08:42 AM
  1. I emailed this to a friend shortly before Eric posted his:

    It's a testament to what we've gone thru during the past 10 years -- three Super Bowl victories, two World Series championships, and now, the Celtics -- that the last Super Bowl -- the loss to the Giants -- registers only as an "aw shucks...if only..." I'm glad my kids can share the kind of joy I got when the Bruins won in '70 and '72, and the Celtics every few years. There was a whole lot of suffering in between -- mainly provided by the Carmine Hose -- but now, I can turn to my three kids and say, "Do you guys know you're living in the Golden Era of Boston Sports?" They've heard me ask them this before many times -- how could I not after a second World Series championship in 2007? -- but they nod, they answer, "Yes," and I can see in their eyes that they know it, they truly know it. Maybe that was the benefit of last February's Super Bowl -- they got a glimpse into what it was like before this. But, in the end, it's heart-warming to see them drink it in, to savor it, and I know, that for however long we get to grace God's green earth, they'll carry these memories and know what if feels like to be on top of the world. I'm a lucky guy, a fortunate father.

    Posted by boo-boo June 19, 08 03:39 PM
  1. Green Bay - 5 titles in 7 years: 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967. All won by one team. Only the Celtics 8 in a row beats it.

    Not bad for a small town in northeastern Wisconsin.

    Posted by Vince Lombardi June 19, 08 05:20 PM
  1. "The Patriots are coming off the worst choke-job in their history"

    Usually those that toss the "choke" word around haven't played much sports at a very high level. Easy to point the finger and use such a tired phrase....Give credit to a great Giants effort and move on.

    Posted by robertowalker June 21, 08 01:38 PM
  1. Lombardi, I am sorry to burst your bubble, and yes the Packers run was awesome, but the Celtics won not only 8 in a row. They also won 11 out of 13, 1957, 1959 - 1966, and 1968 and 69. The Montreal Canadians won in 1953 and then won 5 in a row 1956 - 1960. That's 6 championships in 8 years. They also won in 1965 thru 69, and 1971 and 73. That is also 6 titles in 8 years. Then three years later they won 4 in a row, 1976 - 79. That is 10 champioships in 14 years which is exactly twice your 5 in 7 years which is far more impressive. From 1953 thru 1978 the Canadians won 16 championships in 26 years. Don't forget the Yankee runs. They won 6 of 8 from 1936 - 43: 1936 - 39, 1941 an 43. They also won 6 of 7 from 1947 - 1953: 1947, 49, and 1950 thru 53, and then they won in 1956,58, 61, and 62 for a combined 10 Championships in 16 years. I am a Boston fan thru and thru from the North Shore now living in Maui. The Celtics were the best, and it has been awesome the past few years in free agency era watching the Pats rebuild constantly to stay on top, and the Sox with their minor league system with all these pitchers who don't give up many runs even with the poor defense down there. Hurry up Bruins and join us in this moment !!

    Posted by The Bouncing Buckeye from Ohio State June 21, 08 03:14 PM
  1. 18-1* Wow, that's really clever. Mercury, did you think that one up yourself?

    Posted by Norger June 21, 08 07:59 PM
  1. Wow, what a run of sports history we have witnessed here from experts! All are great achievements and should be given their due.

    Don't forget the NY achievements of the Mets, Jets & Knicks in 69 & 70! 3 out of 4 majors in one Fall to Spring. Not bad.

    I'm just happy to be a New England fan! What a great time to enjoy.

    Posted by sports-address-bible July 1, 08 04:08 AM
  1. Hey 80's Lakers---
    First of all..00---04 is FIVE years! (go California public schools!!)
    And we're not counting College titles..if we are, add one to Boston (BC Eagles-Hockey)
    Doesn't the LA times have a blog for you?
    And BTW...Is Anaheim part of LA?

    Posted by Dave July 11, 08 12:55 PM
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