All aboard the Joey B Express because this train is leaving the station and to be honest with you I am not sure where it’s heading.
What started out as an aberation in this era (the past 15 years or so) of Boston sports, an anomaly, has turned overnight into what economists, stylists, and actually, human fucking beings in general call a “trend”.
One could say this startling reminder of athletic mortality began last December, well before we knew Corona was anything other than a Mexican beer brewed in Kentucky, when the Patriots decided to simply not show up against the Tennessee Titans in the wild-card game, allowing Derrick Henry to run roughshod without even considering stacking the box and, I don’t know, asking Ryan fucking Tannehill to beat us . We all sat there rather calmly all game, thinking “any second now”. Any second now McDaniels would wake up, figure things out, and the offense would cook a quick 21 point cake to get us the dub. Any second now the Mayo/S.Belichick brain trust on defense would unleash the Boogeymen and, fucking I don’t know, spy the aging QB who was running all over us, all the whole being known to throw more picks than a blinded Nathan Peterman. None of that happened though and we lost. To the Titans. In the playoffs.
Things seemed to get back to normal after that befuddling end to 2019. The Bruins played just about up to expectations this season, especially when considering they had to stop their season then restart inside a bubble. The Bs also had to deal with their starting goalie going out to fetch some milk, or in his case probably wings, and never coming back. The Sox sucked this year but at this point I’m pretty sure we’re all just about rooting for that given how hateable their ownership is.
Then our sports world got weird again in the form of the Bubble Celtics. King Marcus Smart, First of His Name, The J’s, and company started a little sluggish but really hit their stride at the end of the bubble season. They proceeded to thrash the 6ers in four. But then they had to go to fucking war with the Raptors, a war which they won. It was entertaining as hell, absolutely captivating, but at the same time, a bit discouraging. On paper, with Toronto having lost Kawhi, our squad should have beaten Toronto a little more handily. no offense to the other 6. Fred van Fleet just shouldn’t be able to lead a team to a seventh game against the young guns from Boston, in my opinion. So I was a little wary heading into our series with Miami.
Now, I don’t hold Jimmy Butler in as high regard as say, the prostitutes in Rio de Janeiro or, more relevantly, other basketball fans. I’ve just never seen “it”. But all the same going up against him and a good supporting cast did not excite me all that much. So I was pretty shocked watching the series play out. Not in the final score of the games themselves or watching the basketball actually go in the hoop or not, just everything else. We simply looked better. We played better. We were more athletic. We were a more cohesive team. But we just didn’t win. We didn’t execute. We didn’t actually score. We didn’t….beat a not as good team. It made zero sense. It must have been how the USSR felt watching the 1980 Olympics. I don’t know how to say. “How the fuck is this happening?” in Russian but I gained some empathy for Sergei and Pavel out in Moscow that series.
I carried that series in my gut with me. I figured it’d be there for awhile. It turns out I was wrong as I carried it around with me until just last night. With Cam Newton having tested positive for the big C19, the Pats trotted out journeyman not-extrordinaire Brian Hoyer against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. And by the 5:00 minute mark (or thereabouts) of the 3rd Quarter, guess what? We should have been winning. But we weren’t. How? Down a respectable 6-3 with the clocking ticking away at the half, Hoyer decided to take a sack rather than throw the ball away, costing us a field goal attempt that not even Nick Folk would have (probably) missed. then, with the score still 6-3, Patrick Mahomes laid an egg on his first drive on the second half. HUGE stop for the D. Hoyer then led an excellent, strategic, balanced drive down the field to get us to the 13. When Josh Mc could advance us no further on the ground, Hoyer dropped back to pass, held on to the ball too long AGAIN, and got stripped. Kansas City ball. Now instead of being 9-3 New England AT A MINIMUM it was Chiefs ball going the other way. Momentum had swung way to far the other way to ever come back to us. We lost 26-10 on a day where our receivers were showing up a little, our D was playing out of their minds, and weird-voice-having Patrick Mahomes was playing like shit.
That leaves us with THREE (3) instances of us just not winning games our eyes have told us we should since last December. In the time it takes to conceive and have a child (I’ve been told) that child would have born to a family that was absolutely bewildered by its sports franchises inability to win games against opponents they should have beaten, sometimes soundly. Instead their birth certificates would have beared names like “FUCKING FRANK CLARK” and “Tyler Herro Looks Like The Third Fucking Chainsmoker.” What a world.
And this, sadly, ladies and gents, is what sports fandom really feels like. I remember it. I’m not so young that I don’t remember asking no one in particular, with tears almost in my eyes, “Why can’t we just win?” I hope this isn’t just it, for the record. I hope I haven’t seen my last championship until I’m too old to care. I hope Cam Newton comes back, Brian Hoyer is locked in the abandoned Showcase Cinema at Patriots Place, and we catch fire with the rest of what looks like an excellent team. I hope the Bruins and Celtics come back next year refreshed, energized by having some (hopefully) semblance of consistency in their lives. I hope, and I can’t stress this enough, John Henry and the rest of the Sox ownership gets Epsteined and are forced to sell.
I hope we become winners again.