Orientation 2017, Sports

Boston adds to storied legacy as 2017 begins

Former star of the Boston Red Sox and philanthropist David Ortiz laughs on stage during Boston University’s commencement on Nickerson Field. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Just when Boston sports fans began to believe that being a member of the most successful legion of fandom over the past 16 years could not become any better, these assumptions were quickly erased in the first few months of 2017.

Brady and Belichick win championship number five

On a cold winter’s night in early February, the Beantown faithful was in the doldrums of despair as Lady Gaga sang “Bad Romance” at halftime of Super Bowl LI. The fans’ unbreakable grip on the reigns of the NFL were slipping away before their eyes, as the tandem that could do no wrong — Tom Brady and Bill Belichick — appeared mystified by the defensive schemes of Dan Quinn and the Atlanta Falcons.

Entering the second half, the Patriots faced a 21-3 deficit as some fans began to peel away from their televisions. As the third quarter began to near its conclusion, New England was pitted in a seemingly impossible hole, trailing 28-3 with a world’s worth of momentum on the sideline of the Falcons.

However, as it has occurred so many times in recent years for Boston fans, the tide began to turn in their direction. With around two minutes remaining in the third quarter, a James White touchdown put the Patriots in the end zone at long last. After a field goal, two touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions, the Patriots had forced the game to overtime.

Once New England won the coin toss, the result was effectively sealed. Brady marched the Patriots 75 yards in eight plays to set up a majestical two-yard score by White that sent the city of Boston into an absolute frenzy.

Thousands poured onto the streets of the city, as the Boston Common was flooded with college students and residents basking in the glow of the Patriots’ fifth Super Bowl victory under the leadership of Belichick, Brady and owner Robert Kraft. Celebrators jumped onto the frozen pond of the Public Garden while chants of “Brady! Brady!” filled the air.

Less than 36 hours later, the scene was replayed along the city streets, as identical cheers were abound as the Patriots themselves rode down Boylston Street, toting the Lombardi Trophy. The parade was the 10th such championship celebration in the past 15 years, with this one being the sweetest of all based on the improbability of such a stunning victory.

Belichick and company are gearing up to defend their championship. With the acquisition of Brandin Cooks, the Patriots could be better than their 2007 historic team, which could be a scary thought for the other 31 teams in the NFL. The 2017 Patriots should be an exciting team to watch.

While the Patriots may have been the only squad to capture a crown so far this year, they were not the only Boston professional sports franchise to enjoy success over the past year. Each of the major sports teams made their respective postseasons, and hope exists for further championships from the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins as the 2010s continue.

Tom Brady hopes to lead the New England Patriots to another Super Bow victory in 2018. PHOTO COURTESY SIMPLE WIKIPEDIA

Red Sox win AL East as David Ortiz rides into the sunset

After two consecutive seasons which included last-place finishes, the Red Sox rebounded in 2016 and returned to the top of the AL East for the first time since winning it all in 2013.

Boston’s journey to the top of the division was piloted by designated hitter David Ortiz. Big Papi ripped 38 home runs and drove in 127 runs while leading the MLB in extra-base hits (87), and OPS (1.021) in the midst of catapulting the Red Sox to 93 victories in his final season.

Following a division series loss exit at the hands of the eventual American League Pennant winning Cleveland Indians in 2016, the Red Sox retooled their rotation with the acquisition of left-handed pitcher Chris Sale. Sale lived up to his billing, tying the major league record for striking out at least 10 batters in eight consecutive outings.

The Red Sox are playing well this season, sticking around the top of the American League East and will look to play October baseball at Fenway this year. Make sure to check out a game this fall.

Celtics advance to Eastern Conference Finals, nab number 1 overall pick

The Boston Celtics were close to their 18th banner during the 2016-17 season, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the 2011-12 season. Despite suffering the same fate that they received in 2012, falling at the hands of the dominant LeBron James, the upstart team has a lot to be proud of when reflecting on the season.

Celtics fans witnessed the birth of a star in point guard Isaiah Thomas. The 5-foot-9-inch dynamo earned All-NBA Second Team honors by scoring 28.9 points per game. He set a franchise record with 43 consecutive games with at least 20 points and a NBA record by netting 53 points in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Washington Wizards, the highest postseason total ever by a point guard.

As if things could not get any more peachy, the Celtics emerged victorious from the NBA Draft Lottery for the first time in team history. The C’s managed to notch the No. 1 overall selection as a result of a 2013 trade with the Brooklyn Nets that shipped away former franchise cornerstones Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

Celtics fans have plenty to look forward to next season. The team will look to improve on its 2016-17 season in which they earned the first seed in the Eastern Conference.

Bruins make playoffs for first time since 2014

Following two straight collapses at the conclusion of the regular season, the Bruins avoided destruction at the end of the 2016-17 season en route to their first postseason showing since the 2013-14 season.

Brad Marchand finished fourth in the NHL in goals scored with 39, leading the B’s to a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division.

While they may have fallen in the six games to the Ottawa Senators in the first round, the series was a memorable one. Each contest was decided by a single goal, and the Bruins were able to net a Game 5 victory in double overtime as a result of a game-winner by Sean Kuraly.

Holding the 18th pick in the NHL draft, the Bruins could be looking for young talent to play with former BU Terriers, Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. With this youthful talent, the Bruins will be a fun team to watch as they try to go deeper in the playoffs in this upcoming season.

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