Thursday, December 5, 2013
By Tom Caron
BOSTON – For years, we've been reminded at Fenway Park that "good times never felt so good." It's an eighth-inning tradition with 38,000 or so fans confirming Neil Diamond's philosophy by chanting "so good, so good, so good"
Suddenly, for Boston sports fans, those good times seem so long ago.
The Red Sox are in the early stages of sifting through the rubble of the worst season in 47 years. They need to hire a new manager. They need an outfielder. Maybe two. They need a first baseman and at least one starting pitcher.
And they need to calm down a restless fan base that wonders how things went sideways so quickly after two championships in four years.
At least the Red Sox have a full off-season to fix what went wrong. They don't have to prove themselves until next April.
The Patriots don't have that luxury – six weeks into the season they've got a .500 record and are staring at a home game against a Jets team that isn't quite as laughable as it once was.
The Jets are tied with the Pats after a half-dozen games. So are Buffalo and Miami.
While no one seems to question the fact that New England is the best team in the division, no one can escape the fact that they're just another .500 team at the moment.
Tom Brady threw a pair of interceptions Sunday afternoon as former Patriots coach Pete Carroll was pumped and jacked to see his Seahawks escape with a one-point come-from-behind win. It was a stunning loss – New England led by 13 points midway through the fourth quarter.
There's little solace in the fact that the Pats have lost three games by a total of four points. Each one of those L's look ugly in the standings.
But not as ugly as the NHL standings, which show a 0 under the "games played" column for the Bruins and every other team. Most of the Bruins are scattered across Europe by now playing for a bunch of teams you've never heard of.
Hockey is mired in its fourth work stoppage in the past 20 years, the second in the past nine years. Last time around the NHL missed an entire season, the only pro sport to ever do that.
Back then, some fans joked that the Bruins were better off not playing since they hadn't won a Cup since 1972.
Now, the shutdown comes just 16 months after the Cup runneth over on Causeway Street. Boston has become a hockey town again, but there's no NHL hockey for this town to watch.
The two sides are scheduled to talk Tuesday. The last few meetings have been cordial.
Then again, the subject of the economic divide splitting the sport was never discussed. We won't get a feel for how long this will drag on until the two get serious about the subject at hand.
A year ago the NBA was in a shutdown, but Donald Stern got his house in order before Christmas.
By the time the playoffs rolled around interest in the game had never been higher. Doc Rivers managed to cajole his Celtics to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Boston opens the season in Miami at the end of the month, facing the team that knocked it out of the playoffs last spring on the way to a championship.
They'll also be facing Ray Allen, once beloved with the Celtics but now a member of the Heat.
Should be a fun way to start the season.
At least we've got a little fun to look forward to. It's been rough going for fans here in the self-proclaimed "City of Champions."
Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.