By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
The 12 Days of Christmas, believe it or not, begin on December 25. But we here at 98.5 The Sports Hub have our own way of doing things, so we’re counting backwards. As such, as we conclude 2018, we give you the 12 Days of Christmazz to celebrate what has been another typically eventful year in the unprecedented Golden Age of Boston sports.
Twelve drummers drumming for Tom Brady, the peerless No. 12, whose year essentially began during a postseason in which he went 89-for-139 with 1,122 yards, 8 touchdowns and no interceptions, culminating with a Super Bowl LII performance in which he passed for a whopping 505 yards and three touchdowns … in a loss. Brady’s postseason rating at age 40: a sterling 108.3. The clock may be ticking on Brady’s career, but it still sounds as forceful as a drumbeat.
Eleven pipers piping for David Price, who should have been the Most Valuable Player of the World Series and who has (seemingly) forever silenced the nattering nabobs of negativity by winning in the postseason – and winning big. As such, Price is the one doing the piping now. “I hold all the cards now,” he said after winning the World Series clincher. And he does.
Ten lords a-leaping for Celtics budding superstar Jayson Tatum, who posterized the great LeBron James with an epic dunk in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last spring. Tatum and the Celtics aren’t all the way there yet, but the trade that essentially sent Markelle Fultz to the Philadelphia 76ers for Tatum and another lottery pick looks as though it could be Danny Ainge’s smaller-scale version of Joe Barry Carroll for Robert Parish and Kevin McHale.
Nine ladies dancing for eternal frat boy Rob Gronkowski, one for each of his catches in the Super Bowl LII loss to the Eagles. Is Gronk the same player anymore? Probably not. But during this giving season, let’s try to remember him for what he was at his peak – an old school, Atlas of a man who bulldozed defenses with the ball in his hands and a showgirl on each arm.
Eight maids a-milking for David Pastrnak, No. 88, the dynamic, young right winger of the Bruins who looks like a teen heartthrob. With that hair, he should have been playing in the ‘70s – without a helmet. Don’t look now, but Pasta played in all 94 Bruins games last season – including playoffs – and hasn’t missed one this year, either. He’s on pace for 55 goals in 2018-19 and has 24 points in 18 career postseason games. Whoosh.
Seven swans a-swimming for Kyrie Irving and, for that matter, Patrice Bergeron, two of the more graceful performers ever to set foot into the home building on Causeway Street, and who distinguish themselves in different ways. Really, has there ever been a prouder, more dignified Boston athlete than Bergeron? And as for Kyrie on the floor, he’s a basketball Baryshnikov performing his personal version of Swan Lake.
Six geese a-laying for Nathan Eovaldi, one for each of the six innings he pitched in relief in epic Game 3 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium. While the unfortunate outcome was that Eovaldi took a loss – the only Red Sox defeat in his six postseason appearances – the lasting result is a legacy in Boston sports lore. To us, he put up six goose eggs. So we’re giving them to him now.
Five golden rings for Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and the Patriots, even after the heartbreaking loss of Super Bowl LII, because, well, five rings deserve five rings. As much time as we have spent talking about internal turmoil and power struggles in Foxboro over the last year or so, the more surprising story may be that the Patriots have been able to keep it all together for as long as they have. Think of it this way: in America, how many marriages have ended since Kraft, Belichick and Brady joined hands?
Four calling birds for John Henry, Dave Dombrowski, Alex Cora and the Red Sox, one for each of the World Series they have won during the Henry ownership era. The Red Sox have taken their share of grief over the years (ahem), but their 2018 season was the best by any major league team since Henry took ownership of the club, and they rank second in overall regular season victories (averaging 91 per season) while ranking first in championships.
Three French hens for Brad Marchand, the menacing rooster of a winger who lives on the edge – and too often goes over it. Nonetheless, in the last three full NHL seasons, Marchand scored more goals (111) than any NHL player but Alex Ovechkin and Vladimir Tarasenko, and he has played even strength, on the power play, on the penalty kill. One request, Marchy: keep your tongue in your mouth. No more French kisses.
Two turtle doves for Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and coach Brad Stevens, now the longest-tenured tandem of architect and coach in the Boston market. (Sorry, a solo Bill Belichick doesn’t count.) Stevens is now in his sixth season in Boston, Ainge his 16th. The proverbial honeymoon is over, the Celtics are now loaded with talent, and championships are the goal. Lean on each other, gentlemen. The last steps are the hardest.
And a partridge in a pear tree for the continuation of this extraordinary era in Boston sports, during which the Patriots (five), Red Sox (four), Celtics (one) and Bruins (one) have combined for a stunning 11 championships (and counting?) since 2001, not to mention a mind-numbing 24 trips to the semifinals (conference or American League championship) during this millennium. Quite simply, there has never been anything like in any other city in American sports history.
Happy holidays, indeed.