Has there ever been a better time to be a Boston sports fan?
The answer, at least this past weekend, was clearly no. This is truly the Golden Age of Boston sports, and we reveled in it over the long holiday weekend.
TD Garden was humming with playoff action, with the Bruins and Celtics making the playoffs in the same year for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
Sunday night’s Celtics game was the start of four consecutive nights of playoff action at the Garden, with the “bull gang” picking up and laying down the parquet each night.
This used to be a regular thing at the old Boston Garden. Back in the ’70s and ’80s it was shocking if at least one of the teams wasn’t playing through Memorial Day or beyond. That seemed to change in the ’90s, and when the teams moved into their new home in 1995, the mystique and aura of the Garden was hard to find.
That magic returned in 2008 when the Celtics hoisted banner No. 17, and continued into this decade with the Bruins winning the Cup in 2011 and returning to the finals in 2013.
The electricity was back Sunday when the Garden faithful showed its support for Isaiah Thomas as he took the court for Game 1 of the playoffs with a heavy heart. Despite losing his sister to a fatal car accident just the day before, Thomas was the Celtics’ best player in the opener against the Bulls.
The trouble is, Boston’s supporting cast wasn’t up to the task and Chicago’s bench was the difference in a 106-102 Celtics loss.
A day later the Bruins brought the Garden to life as they roared back from a 3-0 deficit and batted the Ottawa Senators with everything they had. Unfortunately they didn’t have enough. Boston ultimately succumbed to the Senators in overtime, while four injured Bruins defensemen watched from the ninth floor.
Tommy Cross was 10th on the Bruins’ defensive depth chart this season, but he was on the ice when the game ended in overtime. The former Boston College standout did all he could to cover for a bad Zdeno Chara shift change that left the Bruins undermanned as the Senators attacked. Boston needs to have its best personnel on the ice if it hopes to survive and advance.
While the Garden was humming with hoops and hockey playoffs, Fenway Park has been hopping with the start of the baseball season. The Red Sox held their annual morning game on Patriots Day and finished off a 5-2 homestand that brought their home record to 7-2.
This team was expected to contend primarily on the strength of its starting rotation. That rotation has not been as good as expected, at least not yet. Steven Wright’s outing Monday was just the second quality start this year from a pitcher not named Chris Sale or Rick Porcello. And Porcello gave up four home runs in his last outing.
Yet the Sox hit the road three games above .500, largely because of an offense that has the best batting average in baseball. They’re hitting .325 from the seventh inning on, the best team batting average in the game. That has led to five Red Sox wins in games they trailed or were tied after six innings.
Those kind of come-from-behind wins can build confidence in a team and can get fans thinking about the playoffs. The Sox got there last year but are looking to do better than the three-and-out run of last October.
On a weekend like this, a major event like the 121st running of the Boston Marathon ranks no better than fourth on our list of sporting events worth keeping an eye on. Yet it’s a reminder that this is truly the best sports town in America. We might have an embarrassment of sports riches, but we’ll never be embarrassed to call Boston home to our favorite teams.
Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.