If you’ve watched, say, a single minute of baseball this year, you know the entire league is a one-team show. Of course, I had the wrong Evil Empire as the one to flirt with history. Here I thought the Giancarlo Stanton trade would assure the Yankees of hitting the century mark in wins by mid-September. Instead, the Red Sox are on a 2007 Patriots-like roll in April as they have me bracing (cringing might be a better word, actually) for a fourth championship in 15 seasons. If you compare my last blog post to David Ortiz’s tweet from Tuesday, we both are clearly geniuses, saying the same thing about Shohei Ohtani and how no one should be sold until the Angels face the Red Sox.
Since we have to hold our collective breaths for six-plus months, it’s worth noting that by that time, the city of Boston might already have a dozen (!) 21st Century pro sports championships under its belt. That’s because, if you’ve watched, say, a single minute of basketball or hockey this year, you’re well aware that the Celtics and Bruins both have a very good shot to win it all. And yes, I am saying that with confidence despite Kyrie Irving’s absence, because I’ve given up trying to figure out any of this. The only theory I have is that you should NEVER listen to the so-called “experts” when it comes to sports. Or at least Boston sports. It defies logic, so why try to use any to explain it?
Okay, back to the issue at hand. I know it’s only April. I know that things can change in a New York minute (or should we start calling it a Boston minute now?). I also know that in each of the last five years, the World Series winning team has always gotten off to a torrid start, paced itself the rest of the way, then flipped the switch back on in October. Yet the 2013 Red Sox (20-8), 2014 Giants (42-21), 2015 Royals (28-14), and 2017 Astros (42-16) didn’t even have starts like this. Only the 2016 Cubs (25-6) could draw a fair comparison. That team won 103 games and finally met its date with destiny after 108 years, even though they limped into the All-Star break losing nine of 10.
There are two ways to look at this, I suppose. The haters like me (I like to think of myself as a “disliker,” since hate is such a strong word) could keep resisting, with not one iota of control over anything (unless you, I don’t know, decided to put your money where your mouth was). Or, we could look at this and marvel, since we will never see anything like this in terms of sports success in one city/region in our collective lifetimes. 10 championships and counting. Never more than 32 months without at least one parade. All four sports with one championship, and on the verge of possibly having all four teams with multiple titles. Incredible in many ways, even with some potential asterisks. Money plays a big part, of course, and it doesn’t hurt that the Patriots have resided in the AFC East all these years and that most of the MLB teams in 2018 are tanking to try and copycat what the Royals, Cubs, and Astros have done recently. But maybe it’s time to stop fighting it. This is not going to stop for a while.
Back to the here and now — the 2018 Red Sox simply look unstoppable. Sure, the 2011 team did too and actually missed the playoffs entirely. But that is not going to happen this time around. For anyone that thought last year’s somewhat-disappointing team, which still won 93 games and a division title, was a sign of a declining club, they are sorely mistaken. The more logical (see, there’s that word again) way to look at it was this: despite a number of core players vastly underachieving — Rick Porcello went from 2016 Cy Young winner to a league-leading 17 losses and 38 home runs allowed, for example — and David Price missing a big chunk of the season with injuries, the Sox still won 93 games and were a rare Craig Kimbrel meltdown away from forcing a decisive Game 5 in the ALDS against the eventual-champion Astros. This offseason, with all of their key players expected to have bounce-back years anyway, the team still flexed its fat wallet and threw JD Martinez into the mix when no one else felt like spending on him (including his old team, the Diamondbacks, who are off to a hot start but will undoubtedly rue that decision in the coming months).
If the Sox do it yet again, making it four trophies in a decade-and-a-half, they may not be alone. The Patriots may have lost Super Bowl LII to the Philadelphia Eagles, but last I checked, Tom Brady is still playing, Bill Belichick is still coaching, Julian Edelman is coming back, and they still play in the AFC East. The Celtics may be shorthanded, without Irving, Gordon Hayward, and Marcus Smart, but there is no reason they can’t win the tepid Eastern Conference at the least. Even in yet another “house money” year for them, their best years are still to come, thanks in large part to the brilliance of their coach, Brad Stevens (perhaps that’s the secret sauce, it’s all about the coaches in Boston?). And the Bruins went all-in during what was supposed to be a “transition” year (yeah, right), trading next year’s first-round draft pick for Rick Nash. They are the one team that can beat the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, and no one in the West poses that great of a threat. What does all this mean? For Boston sports, the best is yet to come.
Frighteningly for everyone else, that might mean the worst is yet to come.