Noonan: The Ups And Downs Of Boston Sports
By Matt Noonan
It’s been a while since a dark, stormy cloud drifted over the city of Boston.
For the past few weeks, Bostonians and New Englanders have appeared aggravated and disgusted with their four major professional sports teams because they’ve either struggled or disengaged.
Yet, let’s take a step back and realize that these particular days will pass because Boston is still technically the “City of Champions,” especially since all four major sports teams have won at least one championship in the past 11-years, right?
So, without further ado, let’s take a stroll downtown and check in with the Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox, who’re currently stealing the spotlight from the New England Patriots, who ended their season a few weeks ago in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Thoughts on the Sox: It’s way too early to deem the upcoming Boston Red Sox season a failure, especially since it’s only been two days of pitchers and catchers.
Manager Bobby Valentine has done a rather decent job with the club over the past few days, and appears eager to help everyone improve, especially Daisuke Matsuzaka, who according to the Boston Globe, played catch with his skipper on Monday. However, the highly touted pitcher isn’t expected to return the Fenway Park bump until midseason, as he’s currently recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Carl Crawford seems focused and determined to improve his performance from last season, despite ending the year with 129 hits, 29 doubles, seven triples, 56 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. Also, he struck out 104 times at the plate, too. Yet, similar to Matsuzaka, Valentine doesn’t want to push his leftfielder back into the lineup because he’s currently recovering from surgery on his left wrist.
Finally, a majority of the Sox position players have already arrived in Fort Myers, which is a hopeful sign that they’ve moved on from their chicken and beer rituals from last season. Boston is expected to conduct their first full team workouts on Thursday, and I’m sure after it concludes, we’ll have plenty to discuss around the water cooler in regards to David Ortiz to Cody Ross to Jason Varitek.
The aging Boston Celtics: Literally two weeks ago, I was sitting in the TD Garden watching the Green and White face a Memphis Grizzlies squad that probably should have won this particular clash, especially because they’re younger, quicker, stronger and faster. Although, Kevin Garnett denied the Grizzlies of a much needed win by turning in 22 points and nine rebounds, which helped Boston escape with a 98-80 victory.
Although, ever since that particular day, Boston has endued a 2-6 slump, which includes two losses to a struggling Detroit Pistons team that’ll most likely miss the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Celtics are a complete mess, and need something or someone to spark their offense and defense, but what exactly should they do?
Should team president Danny Ainge create a blockbuster move or keep the roster intact?
What would Red Auerbach do? OK, that maybe the wrong thing to ask, but really, what would the former coach do in this particular situation?
It’s hard to determine what will happen over the next few weeks, but it’s pretty certain that a change is needed, especially if Boston plans to contend for some hardware in June.
The Bruins need to score goals: Similar to the Celtics, the Bruins are struggling.
They’ve lost two of their last three contests, and registered a goose egg (zero) on the scoreboard for the sixth time this season this past Sunday when the Minnesota Wild blanked them, 2-0 on national television.
However, Boston can salvage their current six-game road trip with wins in St. Louis, Buffalo and Ottawa, which might turn some frowns upside down.
Various reports on Tuesday and Wednesday confirmed that Nathan Horton is expected to remain sidelined, while Rich Peverley continues to be hampered by a knee injury. Also, Shawn Thornton has been battling an illness, which could prevent him from playing against the Blues on Wednesday.
Although, despite the various injuries, as well as bumps and bruises I think, Patrice Bergeron summed it up perfectly when he told the media that his teammates aren’t expecting the front office to locate a “savior” to assist the Bruins, who’re currently on par to snag the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
I don’t think a drastic change is necessary for this particular squad. What Boston needs to do is focus on scoring the first goal, and capitalizing on it. They also need Tim Thomas to keep his mind on hockey, not politics or social media.
The Bruins will be fine, but I’m not ruling out a potential trade that could help Boston in May and June.