June 26, 2013

Steve Solloway: Ups and downs of Boston sports leave fans with hollow feeling

The news from Boston hasn't been good but then, it's the ups and downs that enthrall us.

By Steve Solloway ssolloway@pressherald.com

What just happened?

Tuukka Rask
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Tuukka Rask could have been in goal for the Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Instead it all went wrong.

The Associated Press

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The Boston Bruins were beating the Chicago Blackhawks and heading to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, and suddenly they weren't. The Blackhawks scored twice in 17 seconds to win the game and the championship. One by one they kissed the hallowed trophy on TD Garden ice.

While you wrestled with that hollow feeling in your stomach.

Doc Rivers was coach of the Boston Celtics on Saturday but today he's the new coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. Do you feel slapped in the face?

Aaron Hernandez was a New England Patriots starting tight end 10 days ago and now the team doesn't want him walking into its locker room. Not while police search his home again and again following a murder.

The body of a murdered friend was found nearby on June 17. Whether Hernandez plays again for the Patriots is a minor point. Whether Tom Brady has one less familiar face to find on a pass route is a minor point.

A man is dead from gunshot wounds and no one knows why or who did it. At least not yet.

What just happened? Forget the wrathful God stuff that made its rounds Tuesday. That after so much success in the 21st century we all needed a dose of humility.

This isn't biblical. Past success hasn't made Boston sports fans that insufferable. This isn't New York, after all. Although fans in cities where Red Sox followers highjack stadiums might disagree.

Human failings caused Tuesday's gloom. Contrary to popular belief we don't live in a video game world where you can learn to beat the artificial intelligence.

Heroes on pedestals are perfect. Those with feet on the ground never will be. How does any individual or any team win? By exposing their opponent's imperfections and taking advantage.

How you do that is the game we watch.

The Bruins had no jump left in their legs. After Milan Lucic's goal put his team up 2-1, the Bruins tried to hold on, much like a tiring boxer who knows he's ahead on the judges' cards with one round left.

Eventually the shots of adrenaline stop jump-starting the body.

Did the Bruins choke? I heard that in my own office Monday night.

Choking is the paralysis of indecision. The Bruins weren't second-guessing themselves as they played the last minutes of Monday night's game, although they will in the next weeks and months.

They had suddenly become too slow in a third period the Blackhawks believed was still a sprint.

Yes, the Bruins personified Boston Strong. The team and the fans opened their arms to the injured and the scarred following the Boston Marathon bombings. It was good stuff. The right stuff.

It guarantees nothing. Otherwise the New York Yankees would have won the 2001 World Series after the World Trade Center was destroyed one month earlier. The Arizona Diamondbacks won that year, winning their own Game 7.

The Bruins lost, Doc Rivers switched teams and Aaron Hernandez is or isn't involved in another man's death. There's much hand-wringing and finger-pointing in New England and for what? Do we feel that entitled? Please say that's not so. Drought, pestilience and famine haven't been brought down upon us.

In this world, Doc Rivers owes no one except himself and his family. If he stayed he might have hastened the rebuilding of the Celtics. The future falls more on the shoulders of GM Danny Ainge and his ability to find the right players. Or better put, the players who can work with Rajon Rondo and his complex personality.

The Patriots aren't crumbling. The so-called Patriots Way isn't a lie. Players make mistakes, sometimes tragic mistakes. What happens afterward is more telling.

What just happened Monday night, over the weekend and last week? Life intersected the games we watch. The unexpected happened. It's why we pay attention.


Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at ssolloway@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveSolloway


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