By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — This isn’t normal.
In absolutely no way is this normal.
If you need confirmation, just swing through Dallas, or Miami, or Los Angeles. Make a pit stop in Milwaukee, or Houston, or even New York City. Visit Denver, or Detroit, or Cleveland. Head north of the border to Toronto. Or go warm up down in Phoenix, or Atlanta, or Tampa Bay. Take a quick flight to Chicago, or Philadelphia, or take a walk around the nation’s capital. Everybody will tell you the same thing.
This much winning — at a championship level — is just not normal. It’s not even close to normal. Not anywhere else, that is.
But that has just become the new normal here in Boston, where the Red Sox’ World Series victory over the Dodgers gave the city its 11th world championship in the big four sports since the 2001 season. It was the 16th appearance in the championship game or series by a Boston team in that span.
It speaks to the level of success of this current run in Boston sports that fans who were eager and relieved to finally be able to get some sleep after that exhausting World Series run will be burdened by the fact that the national audience is desperate to watch Tom Brady the New England Patriots play football. And so, the Patriots will be playing in prime time on Monday Night Football, and they’ll follow that up with a Sunday Night Football matchup with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers next weekend, a meeting that is sure to be among the highest-rated television programs of the entire calendar year.
That game will mark the Patriots’ fifth prime-time game in a span of seven games. They remain America’s most polarizing football team, and that’s entirely based on their relentless pursuit of winning. Just about everybody in America expects them to be in this year’s AFC Championship Game, vying for the opportunity to play in their third consecutive Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, absolutely nobody in America is worried about the Celtics’ somewhat slow 4-2 stat to the season. That’s because they’ve assembled one of the most talented rosters in the NBA. They’ll be playing into June.
It says quite a bit about the state of Boston sports that the Bruins, despite reaching the second round of the postseason last year and returned much of the same roster, are a distant fourth in the city standings. It’s just that competitive here nowadays.
That’s in large part thanks to the Red Sox. After going 86 years without a championship — a situation so dreary that it spawned an imaginary curse that hung over the franchise for close to 20 years — the Red Sox have made winning look routine. Bostonians can more or less set their watches to a World Series title every four years or so.
And those World Series have barely been competitive. After this year’s win over the Dodgers, the Red Sox are now 16-3 in World Series games since 2004. They’ve outscored the best teams the National League had to offer by a cumulative score of 108-52. Their losses have come by a combined four runs. They’ve won their 16 games by an average of almost four runs per game. Though the cast of characters has changed, from the front office to the manager’s office all the way up and down the roster, it has been complete and total dominance for the Red Sox on baseball’s biggest stage.
Had you told someone 20 years ago that all of this was coming, you’d have been told that you were crazy. Because this is impossible.
No other city in America — and, really, the world — can claim to have this experience. The Bay Area may have caught some of the fever, with the Warriors winning three of the last four NBA titles, and with the Giants winning three World Series from 2010-2014. But the Giants are 50 games under .500 over the past two seasons, the Raiders are 37-66 since 2012 and haven’t won a single playoff game since the 2002 postseason. They’re also skipping town for Vegas in 2019. The 49ers had a nice, brief run, when they made the Super Bowl in 2012. But they’re 22-50 since then. The Oakland A’s haven’t won a postseason series since 2006, and the San Jose Sharks, while always competitive, have yet to win hockey’s ultimate prize.
Chicago has had a good run, with three Stanley Cups for the Blackhawks, drought–busting World Series wins for the Cubs and White Sox, and a Super Bowl appearance for the Bears since 2005. But, that doesn’t compare.
Other cities with multiple sports teams — Denver, Dallas, L.A., Philly, New York, D.C. — have experienced championships since the turn of the century, but none of those cities have been able to sustain it quite like Boston. New York City, despite having nine teams based in or near the city, has celebrated just four titles since 2001. Those nine teams have combined to reach a final series or Super Bowl 11 times; Boston has reached 12 just between the Patriots and Red Sox.
Meanwhile, Detroit and Minneapolis have enjoyed none of the celebration that comes with winning titles over the past decade, despite having four professional teams apiece. On Wednesday, Boston will celebrate its fifth rolling rally on the Duck Boats since 2011.
In and of itself, winning is a joyous occasion. No sports fan ever needs to be told to “enjoy this one” or “soak in the moment.” That’s standard. It comes with the territory.
But zooming out a bit on this run really adds to that moment. Wherever you want to cut a line of demarcation — whether you want to start at the year 2000, or 2010, or 2013, or anywhere in between — you can’t help but marvel at the ridiculous embarrassment of riches that has fallen upon Boston sports fans during this run.
While, sure, it would be nice to occasionally sleep for a full eight hours, or see friends and family once in a while, or accomplish worthwhile tasks (I hear reading books can be very rewarding, though that may just be a rumor), the fact is we don’t have that luxury here in Boston. A championship-caliber team requires our attention just about every single night.