Ranking Boston’s championships 2002-2011
When Boston Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup by defeating the Canucks (and indirectly laying waste to Vancouver) they added the seventh major-league championship that the city’s four pro sports teams have won since 2002.
Here’s how I rank them in order of importance, starting from the bottom
7) Boston Celtics 2008 championship. It would have been 8th on my list had the Patriots not lost the Super Bowl at the end of the 2007 season. Basketball does nothing for me and I can’t remember anything at all about the Celtics run to victory other than that a person died at the hands of Boston police while celebrating. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy going to Celtics games.
6) Boston Red Sox win the 2007 World Series. It was fun. One last hurrah before the metaphorical house that steroids built came crashing down on the team with one of the league’s biggest payrolls.
5) New England Patriots win their second straight Super Bowl by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles. The Patriots concluded the most dominant phase of their dynasty. Back-to-back 14-2 seasons, back to back Super Bowl victories. So dominant were the Patriots that anything other than a repeat would have been an incredible letdown. That really took quite a bit of the enjoyment and thrill out of it.
4) Boston Bruins win the 2011 Stanley Cup. The Bruins, whose work ethic impressed me a good deal more than their skill during the regular season, strung together two months of unforgettable playoff drama (against Montreal, Tampa and Vancouver) and revenge (sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers). The Bruins triumph may turn out to mark the end of Boston’s spectacular run. The Celtics are fading away, the Red Sox remain competitive but lack that championship caliber edge they had until recently and the Patriots have completely lost their way.
3) New England Patriots win their second Super Bowl in three years. After a disappointing 2002 season that left out of the playoffs the Patriots came roaring back. A stumbling 2-2 start gave way to 15 straight victories, culminating in a highly entertaining Super Bowl that was part defensive stalemate and part Wild West shootout.
2) Boston Red Sox win the 2004 World Series. I think most fans in New England, and certainly in eastern Massachusetts, would put this at number one, but I disagree. While the Red Sox hadn’t won a World Series since 1918 they had a very strong team heading into the 2004 season. The heartbreak of 2003 – The Grady Little Mistake on the Mound where the team’s overmatched manager failed to pull a clearly tiring Pedro Martinez in the seventh game of the ACLS – had fans thirsting for payback. Things really got going when catcher Jason Varitek fed Antonio Rodriguez a mouthfull of leather glove, a move that set off a bench clearing brawl and a stunning regular-season come-from-behind victory. The real highlight of the 2004 playoffs was not the World Series victory – which had almost become a foregone conclusion – but the highly improbable seven-game ALCS series against the Yankees – the one where the Sox were down three games before Dave Roberts made the perhaps biggest steal in baseball history and got the biggest comeback moving. The biggest low-light also followed the series against the Yankees when a Boston police officer shot a female student in the head with a pepperball gun during the chaotic celebrations after the game.
1) New England Patriots win the Super Bowl! Boston was Loserville before Adam Vinatieri’s Greatest Toe On Turf edged out St. Louis Rams’ Greatest Show On Turf. The Patriots were no longer a laughingstock the way they had been before the Kraft family bought the team in 1994, but they certainly didn’t merit consideration as a Super Bowl contender. If you’re a Boston sports fan born in 1985 you had had an entirely different experience by the time you turned 15 than one born in 1996 would have had by 2011. If you’re 15 today pretty much all you know is that Boston teams win championships more or less all the time. It was the Patriots who started that run. Just months after the devastating Arab-Muslim 9/11 terror attacks – two of which were launched from Boston’s Logan airport – Robert Kraft could announce that we’re all patriots and the Patriots were the champions of the world. It was a wild end to a crazy season with twists-and-turns (like starting QB Drew Bledsoe getting knocked out in the second game of the season) and absurd luck (remember the non-fumble on the road against the Buffalo Bills?). The game winning drive in the dying seconds of the game was a stretch of championship-game winning drama yet to be rivalled. To top it off, the very last game in the old Foxboro Stadium turned out to be the Snow Bowl in which the infamous Tuck Rule helped the Patriots beat the Oakland Raiders in the divisional playoff round.