The grey sky and rain were appropriate for the mood in New England Wednesday morning.
In sunny Los Angeles, if they went to sleep at all, they woke up ready to continue celebrating the World Series championship that former Red Sox star Mookie Betts helped clinch Tuesday night. In the Sunshine State, they’re celebrating former Patriots legend Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, who are looking more and more like a Super Bowl team.
Around here fans are glum. For the first time in almost 20 years, not one of the Boston teams looks close to winning a championship while the GOATs are grazing happily in other pastures with New England in their rearview mirror.
Only Betts knows if his “I thought I’d be a Red Sox for life” line to David Ortiz was true or just a self-serving quip. But whether Boston was smart to get something for him before he left on his own or dumb to unload one of the best players in the sport as well as the history of the franchise, the simple fact remains baseball is less fun and the Red Sox are worse without him.
They were historically bad this year finishing last in the American League East.. When the Red Sox finished last in 2015, you could look at the roster and believe Xander Bogaerts and of course Betts were going to eventually be great and that Yoan Moncada, before being traded for Chris Sale, might be special down the road.
The Celtics, who reached the Eastern Conference finals, are easily the closest right now, but the NBA isn’t providing the region any less misery. Any year LeBron James wins a title for any team is a bad one for Boston fans and any year the Lakers is equally unpleasant. The double-whammy of James winning a title for a L.A., that bring the Lakers into a tie with the Celtics for the most championships in league history only further twists the knife.
Los Angeles has won two legs of the championship grand slam right now, giving it claim to seize the Title Town moniker Boston has adopted in recent years.
The current Celtics had flaws revealed against Miami and the Eastern Conference isn’t getting any easier with Kevin Durant joining the Nets. Plus Gordon Hayward, whose body shape is permanently imprinted on Celtics rehab equipment after three injury-plagued seasons is apparently thinking of opting out and heading elsewhere.
Elsewhere has been good to ex-Bostonians. Brady and Rob Gronkowski have apparently discovered the Florida fountain of youth that eluded Ponce de Leon and have the Buccaneers looking at least like a Super Bowl contender. Politifact has had more luck getting to Brady in recent weeks than opposing defenses. That’s all happening while Cam Newton’s once-promising Patriots career start has, at least temporarily, gone off the rails.
At 2-4, it’s possible even likely that the perennial contenders could trade Stephon Gilmore, their best player, essentially giving up on 2020 to reset for the future. The idea of that would have seemed crazy a year ago and even a month ago, but that’s where things are.
Even the Bruins, who were the region’s best hope for another banner when the pandemic hit, have sputtered. Tuukka Rask’s absence from the Toronto-bubble at least contributed to their fizzle out against Tampa Bay and things have gotten worse since. Torey Krug and Don Sweeney offered conflicting information about the defenseman’s departure via free agency, but no matter whose version is accurate, Krug is gone. Not only gone, but headed to the St. Louis Blues. A year after snatching Boston’s heart in the Stanley Cup Final, the Blues grabbed the Bruins power-play quarterback for good measure. There’s no assurance Zdeno Chara comes back now either.
It could be a while before there’s another Duck Boat parade. Considering it could be a while before parades are safe and California is pointing at Laker celebrations as a source of COVID spreading, maybe there’s a public health benefit to this downturn.
The same way the 2004 World Series and the first Super Bowl win were more special because of the anguish that proceeded them, this run of potential mediocrity is gonna be that much harder to handle for Boston fans who have come to expect success.
It could be raining for a while.
Follow MassLive sports columnist Matt Vautour on Twitter at @MattVautour424.