BOSTON (CBS) — The calendar is about to turn from 2014 to 2015, so we’ll take a look back at the top stories in Boston sports over the last year.
Unfortunately for the Boston sports scene, 2014 didn’t result in any titles for the teams. The Patriots made it to the AFC Championship game but fell short of their ultimate goal. The Bruins were dismissed by their biggest rivals in just the second round, and both the Celtics and Red Sox were cellar dwellers in their respective sports. The Revolution made an unprecedented run to the MLS Cup, but fell just short of getting the first title in franchise history.
While losses, on the field and off of it, may have dominated the headlines, there were also plenty of feel-good stories in 2014. We’ll start with those, before we get to all the bad news that filled the last 365 days.
Revis Island Relocates To New England
Aqib Talib bolted for the Broncos in the offseason, but he was quickly forgotten when the Patriots filled the void with Darrelle Revis.
Revis has helped stabilize the New England secondary, and turn the defense into one of the most feared units in the NFL. Throughout the season he shut down some of the best receivers in the league, giving New England the top corner they haven’t had since the days of Ty Law.
Red Sox Have Some Fun At White House
One of the only bright spots of the season for the Red Sox was their visit to the White House, complete with a David Ortiz-President Obama selfie and a very patriotic jacket worn by Jonny Gomes.
Revolution Make Run To MLS Cup
Things looked bleak for the Revs as they suffered an eight-game losing streak in the middle of the season. But it all turned around thanks to a breakout season by Lee Nguyen and the August addition of Jermaine Jones.
The Revolution looked unbeatable at times down the stretch, with Nguyen solidifying himself as an MLS MVP candidate. Nguyen finished the regular season with 18 goals, including a club record nine game-winners, and earned team MVP honors.
The Revs continued their hot streak in the postseason, besting the Columbus Crew 7-3 in their two game, aggregate goal series, then handling the New York Red Bulls 4-3 in the Eastern Final to clinch their fifth trip to the MLS Cup in franchise history.
The Revs fell to the L.A. Galaxy and the retiring Landon Donovan, 2-1, in the final, but look poised to make another run at the Cup next season.
Celtics Draft Smart Sixth Overall
Some would say the Celtics didn’t tank hard enough, but their 24-57 record in the 2013-14 season (with a roster full of guys named Joel Anthony, Chris Johnson and Chris Babb) got them the sixth overall pick in the NBA draft, which they used to select point guard Marcus Smart out of Oklahoma State.
In drafting Smart, the Celtics gave themselves some insurance in case Rajon Rondo left via free agency or was traded during the season, as he was in mid-December.
Smart, who had an incredible road to the NBA, has had his share of growing pains during his rookie campaign, including some actual pain after suffering a nasty knee sprain just five games into his career. But he’s also shown some glimpses on the offensive end, and is already proving he’s NBA-ready on the defensive side of the floor.
There isn’t much to watch for with these young and rebuilding Celtics, but Smart is a solid building block for the future.
Jermaine Jones Signs With Revolution
The Revolution have long been criticized for not investing in players, but they brought one of the biggest soccer stars in the world to New England when they won a blind draw for Jermaine Jones in late August.
The team responded in a big way too, going 13-3-2 with Jones in the lineup. They were 6-0 when he scored a goal or notched an assist, and his presence at midfield helped them make it all the way to the MLS Cup Final. It’ll be fun to see what the team can do with Jones for a full season in 2015.
Patriots Draft A Quarterback
Not just any quarterback, but another dreamboat for the ladies.
With the 62nd overall pick, the Patriots drafted Jimmy Garoppolo, who set numerous passing records during his career at Eastern Illinois. Of course, the pick started a firestorm over the future of Tom Brady, with Garoppolo the likely successor for No. 12 somewhere down the road.
Garoppolo gave fans something to be excited about during the preseason, and has looked decent in his handful of regular season appearances, but he’s a long way from dethroning Brady. Then again, we know no one is safe with Bill Belichick calling the shots…
Red Sox Sign Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval
With their offense abysmal in 2014, the Red Sox went out and added some pop to their lineup early this winter by inking Hanley Ramirez (who is moving to the outfield) and Pablo Sandoval to multi-year deals.
Ramirez, though slowed by injuries the last few seasons, is a career .300 hitter who can bring some power to the lineup. Sandoval also brings a big bat and a stellar postseason resume, winning three World Series with the Giants over the last five seasons. He was named MVP of the 2012 Fall Classic, batting .500 against the Detroit Tigers, and is a career .426 hitting in 12 World Series games.
Unfortunately, neither is an ace for the rotation, which is what the Red Sox could certainly use right now.
Rob Gronkowski Is Healthy
The rest of the NFL better look out, because No. 87 is healthy for the postseason.
Gronk didn’t put up those eye-popping numbers he had in 2011, but his 82 reception/1,124 yard/12 touchdown season (in 15 games) is nothing to scoff at.
Gronk was back to his old self throughout the season, carrying a couple defenders downfield with him on several occasions, and still having plenty of fun off the field.
Jeter’s Fenway Farewell
The Red Sox weren’t playing for anything in late September, but were thrust into the spotlight for Derek Jeter’s final game — ever!
Jeter got plenty of Re2pect from the Fenway crowd and was honored by the team before and during the game. Red Sox fans got to witness Jeter walk off into the sunset with a RBI single in his final at-bat.
Boston Athletes Step Up To “Ice Bucket Challenge”
We highlighted Pete Frates’ “Ice Bucket Challenge” in our list of Top Local News Stories Of 2014, but Boston athletes really stepped up to the challenge.
The Patriots did it as a team in training camp, including owner Robert Kraft, and nearly every member of the Boston Bruins took part. You can check them all out here.
Patriots Honor Devon & Leah Still
The Patriots organization showed a lot of class by honoring Cincinnati’s Devon Still and his daughter Leah during their matchup with the Bengals in Week 5. Leah is battling cancer, and the NFL has done a great job raising money for her treatment and pediatric cancer research.
In addition to honoring Still during a timeout, which brought the defensive lineman to tears, Robert Kraft also donated $25,000 to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Leah’s name.
Red Sox Go From First To Worst
Remember last October at Fenway Park? That was fun, wasn’t it? Well, once the calendar flipped to 2014, things went downhill for the Red Sox, and fast.
Expectations were high for the defending champs heading into the season, but they hit a speed bump right off the bat. Jon Lester’s impending free agency dominated the talk in spring training, and following their ring ceremony to celebrate their 2013 title, Boston was swept by the Milwaukee Brewers at Fenway Park. The Red Sox were just 14-13 after the first month of the season.
Boston’s baseball team was never able to get on a roll, and started a bit of a nosedive in May with a 10-game losing streak. They followed that by winning seven straight, but then lost five in a row. They lost 11 of 13 to end July and begin August, and suffered an eight-game losing streak later in the month.
The Sox found themselves sellers at the trade deadline, sending Jon Lester to Oakland and Jon Lackey to St. Louis. That left the rotation with fill-ins and prospects, and though Yoenis Cespedes added some pop to a historically bad outfield, they still finished in the bottom of the barrel in most offensive statistics.
In the end, the Red Sox finished the season with a 71-91 record, just two more wins than the Bobby Valentine-led Sox in 2012.
Patriots Fall To Broncos In AFC Championship
The Patriots made it to their third straight AFC Championship in 2014, but unlike the previous two years, had to go on the road to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl. The Patriots, unfortunately, didn’t really show up in Denver.
Wes Welker took out Aqib Talib on a screen early in the game (a play that Bill Belichick called “one of the worst plays I’ve seen”) and the Patriots defense couldn’t stop Peyton Manning and company. The Broncos were up 13-3 at halftime, but extended that lead to 23-3 early in the fourth quarter. The Patriots got a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns, but it was too little, too late in the 26-16 loss. The Broncos outgained New England 507-320, with Manning throwing for 400 yards and a pair of scores.
It was a bitter end to the season for New England, but at least Manning lost his second Super Bowl a few weeks later.
Canadiens Eliminate Bruins
As President Trophy winners, the Bruins were supposed to make another run at the Stanley Cup. But after beating the Detroit Red Wings in five games in the first round, they fell flat against their biggest rivals.
Boston’s series against the Montreal Canadiens went the distance, with the Bruins getting two chances at closing out the Habs. But they delivered a major dud in a 4-0 loss in Montreal in Game 6, and delivered another in the deciding Game 7 in Boston. The Bruins fell behind 1-0 just 2:18 into the game on a goal by Dale Weise, and were in a 2-0 hole in the second period when Jarome Iginla scored their only goal of the contest. Daniel Briere added a late insurance goal for Montreal, who got an outstanding performance from goalie Carey Price.
Milan Lucic was obviously very upset about the loss, and let the Habs know in the handshake line after the game. Little did he know, things would just get worse for the Bruins.
Rough Offseason For Bruins
If losing to the Habs wasn’t bad enough, the Bruins followed it up with a horrendous offseason.
They couldn’t afford Jerome Iginla, who signed a three-year deal with the Colorado Avalance, and then decided not to replace him, hoping that Loui Eriksson could fill the void. He has not, and the Bruins offense has been pretty terrible midway through the season.
In addition to losing Iginla, Peter Chiarelli also traded away Johnny Boychuk to clear room under the salary cap for a midseason addition that has not yet come to Boston. Sure, injuries have played a part in Boston’s struggles, but the Bruins did very little to improve their team heading into this season.
Monday Night Massacre
This was certainly a negative at the time, but after seeing how the Patriots bounced back, it’s more of a turning point.
Monday, September 29 in Kansas City is a night the New England Patriots would like to forget, as they were throttled by the Chiefs 41-14 on national TV. What followed was a week of loud talk that the Patriots were finished, with some even doubting Tom Brady’s ability, and a whole lot of “on to Cincinnati” remixes.
The one benefit from the game? It lit a fire under the team, who went on to win seven straight and 10 of their last 12 games. The offense started to gel the following week against the Bengals, the defense put it all together, and the special teams unit has made big plays on a weekly basis.
It’s amazing how much can change in three months.
Lester Traded; Signs With Cubs
The Red Sox messed up the Jon Lester negotiations early in the season, offering him a four-year, $70 million deal in March, and the relationship was never fixed. Lester didn’t want to talk contract during the season, and with Boston well out of the playoff picture by the trade deadline they sent him and Jonny Gomes to the Oakland Athletics for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Gone was the ace of their rotation and a fan favorite who gave Boston 8 1/2 solid seasons on the hill.
Boston made a run at Lester on the free agent market, but weren’t willing to up their offer to the six-year, $155 million deal that he ultimately signed with Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs.
At least we had a little fun with Toucher & Rich’s #SmearCampaign.
Kevin Love Watch
For a few months, Celtics fans (and probably the Celtics themselves) thought they had a chance at landing Kevin Love. As soon as the All Star was seen at Fenway Park, shaking hands with Rajon Rondo, the hysteria really took off.
But while the Celtics had some intriguing assets to offer the Minnesota Timberwolves, things took a turn when the NBA gifted the Cleveland Cavaliers the first overall pick in the draft. Once LeBron James took his talents back to Cleveland, and the Cavs had No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins to offer the Wolves, it was all but assured that Love wouldn’t be coming to Boston.
It was fun to dream, but now the Celtics are stuck in a bit of a nightmare.
Rondo’s Final Months With Celtics
Rondo’s contract year started with the point guard breaking his hand on a fall at home, causing him to miss all of training camp. It wasn’t the start Celtics fans were hoping for, and the end probably isn’t what they were expecting either.
Rondo was back in time for opening night, dropping 13 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds on the Brooklyn Nets, giving Celtics fans some hope for the season ahead. But inconsistent play and some horrendous free throw shooting followed, and Danny Ainge cashed in on his biggest trade asset on December 18. He shipped Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks, acquiring center Brandan Wright, guard Jameer Nelson, forward Jae Crowder, a future draft pick and a $12.9 million trade exception. It wasn’t really the return Celtics fans were hoping for, but it was the best Ainge was going to get for Rondo.
Patriots Trade Logan Mankins
Bill Belichick is never afraid to part ways with a veteran player, even if it sends shockwaves through the locker room. He did just that by trading Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for tight end Tim Wright just days before the 2014 season began.
The players, Tom Brady especially, weren’t too pleased to see a veteran leader like Mankins go, as it left the team pretty thin on the offensive line depth chart. But so far things have worked out, minus a few struggles to start and end the season, as long as Dan Connolly is ready to go for the playoffs.
MORE SPORTS COVERAGE FROM CBS BOSTON