Your guide to sports in Beantown

With nine major championships since the year 2000, Boston continues to solidify itself as one of the premier sports cities in the nation. The Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins and Patriots continue to elevate Boston sports to new levels with each passing season. Although there were no championships last year, another Duck Boat parade should be in order in the near future if recent history is any indication of Boston’s athletic success.

Aside from triumphs in professional sports, Boston also plays host to two of the finest athletic events of the year, the Boston Marathon and the Head of the Charles Regatta. Both attract thousands of spectators and have remained popular for over 50 years.

Here’s a brief look at what Boston University students got to experience from a sports standpoint during the 2015-16 academic year, and what they have to look forward to.

Boston’s major sports teams show promise

Baseball: The 2015 season didn’t end so well for the boys on Yawkey Way, with the Boston Red Sox finishing a disappointing 78-84, last place in the American League East. Off-season acquisitions Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Rick Porcello did not quite live up to the hype, and the team was without manager John Farrell for the final two months of the season during his battle with lymphoma. The Sox did show some promise, though, with budding stars Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts developing well in their sophomore campaigns.

The future looks bright for the Sox, who at the beginning of June were sitting first place in the division. The signing of former Cy-Young award winner David Price in the offseason, as well as the acquisition of Craig Kimbrel from the Padres to bolster the bullpen, have greatly helped the pitching staff. Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 29-game hitting streak tied Johnny Damon’s 2005 streak for the fourth-longest in Sox history, and Bogaerts and Betts are continuing to mash. The Red Sox will look to make David Ortiz’ final season a memorable one, and should contend for a playoff spot.

Basketball: The Boston Celtics had another successful campaign in 2015-16, finishing 48-34, their best record since the 2011-12 season (the Big Three era). Brad Stevens continued to impress during his third season, and many consider him one of the finest coaches in the league. Isaiah Thomas led the offense and was selected to his first All-Star game, and led the team to the playoffs as the No. 5 seed in the East. Though they fell to the Atlanta Hawks in six games, it was a strong season for the C’s.

The Boston Celtics had a promising season last year, finishing as the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
The Boston Celtics had a promising season last year, finishing as the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The Celtics will look to keep the magic alive next season, and with loads of cap space and a plethora of picks, including the No. 3 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, they are primed to improve again. With star power forward Kevin Durant’s contract now up in Oklahoma City, could Celtic Green be a possibility? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain — President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge and Stevens are the right men to lead this team.

Hockey: Coming off a recent stretch in which they made the playoffs for seven straight seasons, the Bruins missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season in 2015-16. They had the same amount of points as the playoff-bound Detroit Red Wings, though, so the team was not far from contention. The team attained a different significant milestone this year, becoming just the second NHL franchise to record 3000 victories in a January game against the New Jersey Devils. This accomplishment speaks to the storied history of one of the league’s original six.

The Bruins’ future remains unstable, but with the team’s recent track record and Claude Julien manning the bench, anything is possible for the Black and Gold. The team has a number of restricted and unrestricted free agents, many who can still contribute at a high level. It remains to be seen whether or not the B’s will look to rebuild, or simply retool. That being said, the Bruins’ only All-Star last season, center Patrice Bergeron, tallied his most points since 2006-07, and should be one of the key players on next year’s team, regardless of the direction it decides to take.

Football: After capturing the team’s fourth championship of the Tom Brady era in 2014, the Patriots fell short on the quest for No. 5 last season, but still had another impressive season near the top of the AFC. The team captured its seventh straight divisional title after starting the season 10-0, and finished the season as the No. 2 seed in the conference. In the divisional round of the playoffs, they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, but fell to eventual Super Bowl Champion Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 20-18 in the AFC Championship game.

The Patriots will look to make it eight divisional titles in a row next season, and the team certainly has the talent and star power to make it happen. Tom Brady won’t be around forever, though, and with Deflategate still hanging over the future Hall of Fame quarterback, the Patriots may soon have to start thinking about Brady’s replacement. In the meantime, look for head coach Bill Belichick to lead the Pats on another impressive run in 2016.

Boston Marathon celebrates 120 years

BU sophomore and Hopkinton resident Rachel McLean ran the 120th Boston Marathon on April 18. PHOTO BY SARAH SILBIGER/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
BU sophomore and Hopkinton resident Rachel McLean runs the 120th Boston Marathon on April 18. PHOTO BY SARAH SILBIGER/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

BU students have the opportunity to witness one of the most prestigious road-racing events in the world each April — the Boston Marathon. Thousands of BU students gathered around Beacon Street in the Kenmore Square area on April 18 this year to watch over 30,000 runners participate in the 120th Boston Marathon. Spectators held signs and cheered on the runners as they witnessed their peers brave the 26.2 run from Hopkinton to Copley Square.

Rachel McLean, a junior in BU’s College of Communication, was one of several BU students to participate in the festivities this year. The Hopkinton resident came full circle this year, running her first Marathon. She, along with so many others, understands how much the Marathon means to the city.

“It’s so exciting to be contributing to my town and to be doing this event I’ve been watching since I’ve been really young,” McLean told The Daily Free Press. “I’ve been to almost every single marathon start, and now I actually [participated].”

BU plays host to the Head of the Charles Regatta

For the 51st year, the Head of the Charles attracted the best crew teams in the world to the Charles River for a rowing competition that hosts more than 11,000 athletes and 400,000 spectators. The regatta adds a distinct flavor to the Boston athletic tradition, and offers a spectacle rarely found on a college campus.

BU's rowing teams finished well in the 51st Head of the Charles Regatta in October. PHOTO BY OLIVIA NADEL/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
BU’s rowing teams finished well in the 51st Head of the Charles Regatta in October. PHOTO BY OLIVIA NADEL/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

The 2015 Head of the Charles, which took place the weekend of Oct. 17, drew professional and amateur rowers alike, who raced down the three-mile aquatic course that runs parallel to BU’s campus. The BU men’s and women’s rowing teams not only participated, but thrived in the famous regatta. The teams combined for nine top-10 finishes on the weekend.

“The Head of the Charles is always a special weekend for us,” BU Men’s Rowing Coach Tom Bohrer said in a press release from BU Athletics. “You have 51 years of rowing history with so many of our alumni who rowed in this regatta coming back. Our student-athletes get so fired up for it and want to do well here because they feel like it is their home course.”

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Nick Neville is a junior in COM studying journalism and the Sports Editor of the Daily Free Press. When he's not making a paper on Beacon Street, you can catch him working as a Sports Correspondent for the Boston Globe or helping to produce BU's only professional sports talk show, Offsides. Follow him on Twitter: @n_nebs95

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