By TERRY LYONS, Editor in Chief
NORTON – Born of a summertime habit, the kitchen and living room windows were left wide open as August gave way to September in Boston, Massachusetts and the reading off the new-fangled iPhone weather App registered a low we haven’t seen in quite a while – a four – as in 40-something degrees. A chilly nest minus two children, now young adults in college, was half-empty except for the mother and father who chose New England over any other place in the world when they decided to pack-up an Upper East Side apartment in 2008 and move from the city that never sleeps.
Nine summers ago, the question frequently asked of us: “Why Boston?”
The answer is simple and it’s illustrated very well this weekend as sweaters, hoodies and jackets are unpacked along with the mini-vans over in Harvard Square, along Commonwealth or Beacon where the kids return to school in Cambridge to Back Bay to Somerville to Chestnut Hill where the Boston College Eagles become “Exhibit 1-A” in an ode to the sports scene in Boston.
Boston College defeated Northern Illinois last night in their season-opener for college football. Last September, in Dublin, Ireland, the Eagles lost a heartbreaker to Atlantic Coast Conference (can you call it ‘rival?’) Georgia Tech after a slew of missed field goal attempts did them in. Last night, the same kicker who missed the FG as a sophomore, hit the winning 37-yarder with 2:13 remaining in the game to give his beloved BC Eagles their first win of the new college football season.
They’ll be playing college football at UMass and Harvard and at schools all over the joint as the leaves fall all around this amazing college town. It’s one reason why I love it here, but, while a collegiate spirit fills the air and Boston becomes one of the most diverse and vibrant towns in all the world because of the influx of thousands and thousands of USA-born and international students each year, the truth is, Boston is a pro sports town and that’s one of the real reasons why it’s the best place in all of the USA.
Yes, Chicago and Philly can make their claims, and some will “try” to defend New York as a top-notch sports town.
I say, “No way.”
Boston is the best and the vibe this week is proof enough.
The American League East division-leading Red Sox are sparring with the New York Yankees in The Bronx after Long Island’s Billy Joel and Manhattan’s Lady Gaga took to Fenway Park for a threesome of rock shows before the best audience a performer could ever imagine. The Red Sox are winning games as frequently as Chris Sale strikes-out batters or as Mookie Betts steals bases or as rookie-of-the-year candidate Andrew Benintendi flashes his smile to the co-eds and follows through on a swing that brings back memories of Freddie Lynn as they both easily knock baseballs 20-feet over the right field wall at Yankee Stadium.
The defending Atlantic Division champion Boston Celtics, the most decorated sports franchise in the town, spent get-away day for summertime’s final holiday weekend introducing two new acquisitions to the assembled media, a crew stretched too thin this weekend. The Celtics ironed the big green backdrop and rolled-out all the brass for a press conference to formalize the two biggest “gets” in an always-interesting NBA offseason. The C’s signed free agent scoring machine Gordon Heyward along with NBA Finals-proven, Olympic gold medalist, World Champion and perennial NBA All-Star guard Kyrie Irving.
The overhaul for the Celtics, a team that actually had the best record in the NBA’s Eastern Conference just this past season, took on a life of its own this summer as GM Danny Ainge tinkered with a roster he deemed ‘not ready for primetime‘ against the Eastern-rival Cleveland Cavaliers or league champion in the Golden State Warriors. Ainge pulled off one hell of a deal, sending fan-fave Isaiah Thomas packing with a bum hip, and handed young coach Brad Stevens a potent blend of winners, athletes and sure-fire title contenders. Ainge’s gutsy NBA Draft night deal to ignore a consensus No. 1 and instead drop-down to draft a more NBA ready and savvy Jayson Tatum will prove to be a deal only Celts’ patriarch Red Auerbach would have the chops to pull-off.
The Celtics are primed and Boston sports fans will be ready when the time is right to cheer – indoors.
But first, there are more pressing needs for the fans of New England and there is an outdoor sport to endure.
The National Football League, the great American pastime of watching athletes contract chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as they bash the bejeezus out of each other, kicks-off this Thursday with the New England Patriots playing host to the Kansas City Chiefs in a regular season-long tournament to decide who will lose to said Patriots when the Super Bowl rolls around in February.
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady, oft-injured tight end Rob Gronkowski and a roster full of “Do Your Job” fill-ins are stretching the hamstrings, suffering the ACLs and MCLs, spiking the footballs and readying for another season of greatness before Brady goes the way of Boston’s two other GOATs (Bill Russell in hoops and Bobby Orr in ice hockey), and one other “almost GOAT” (Ted Williams in baseball).
Not to be overlooked as footballs are kicked nationally, tennis balls are volleyed in Flushing and basketball greats are enshrined in Springfield all during this busy sports week, is a wonderful golf tournament staged each Labor Day weekend, here in Norton, Mass – about 20 minutes from Providence, Rhode Island and 40-minutes from The Heights in Chestnut Hill. The Dell Technology Championship (nee Deutsch Bank Championship aka DBC) brings the best 100 professional golfers to Boston every year, or at least until the PGA Tour screws it up and reschedules its postseason away from terrific and passionate crowds here where the greatest sports fans in the world reside to place its postseason at a course like Glen Oaks in Old Westbury where fans stood – none-deep – last weekend in the first round of the PGA Tour’s FedEX Cup Playoffs.
The TPC Boston hosts the hidden gem on the annual Boston sports calendar. There is no better fan experience and no better setting, as the world’s No. 1, Dustin Johnson, tries to outlast Jordan Spieth, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and fan-faves like defending champions Rickie Fowler, Ireland’s Rory McIlroy or Aussie Adam Scott, all take their swings with their Pings and Callaways and Taylor Mades and do what Brady, Orr, Russell or even Tour wanna-be Michael Jordan only wish they could do – hit a drive 315-yards – consistently – off a tee and land it in a fairway.
Meanwhile, the Revs and the Bruins will be fighting for recognition from WBZ-TV, NESN, WEEI, The Sports Hub and column-inches (remember them?) from The Boston Globe and Boston Herald as the summer houses at The Cape – all vacated and, so sadly, left empty for the best month of the year – September in New England,
September in Boston is the reason we moved here, to the greatest city in the world with the greatest sports teams in the world. It’s my town.