By Terry Lyons, Editor-in-Chief
BOSTON – On the fourth day, he rested.
There were no Patriots playing at Gillette or elsewhere, so he has to wait until Sunday, not Thursday, for the Chiefs.
There were no Bruins playing at the Garden or elsewhere. He has to wait until tonight for the Oilers.
There were no Celtics playing at the Garden or elsewhere. He has to wait until Tuesday for the 76ers.
The sports calendar stopped on Wednesday night and that is a rare occasion in these here parts of the United States of America, in the region of New England where sports are important to the citizens.
Me and my fellow New England residents took a day off from an October to cherish. All four sports are in gear, although the Cs are only idling in place at the moment, awaiting the start of the 2018-19 NBA season, a basketball season that could be special.
Before we crown Boston’s pro basketball team with the G-League, errr, Eastern Conference title, we’re hearing that Celtics Coach Brad Stevens has some work to do in order to get the team focused, fully ready and in a defensive mindset that can carry the club past the big, bad Bucks. I’m confident Brad will get the job done, as he is the best basketball coach in the land and he coaches here in Boston.
Before we place the NHL Bruins in playoff contention, we must erase that opening night fiasco from our minds, the one when the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals shutout the Bs, 7-0. Despite that shellacking, Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy will get the ship righted, as he’s done so quickly in victories over Buffalo (4-0) and Ottawa (6-3) since that dark night when the Caps raised a banner in DC. Cassidy took over the Bs in February, 2017 and he’s guided the team to a pair a playoff appearances but he’ll have to improve on that 7/11 postseason record before we can place him as one of the best in the land.
Patience, Bruce, patience.
Before we place the mighty Patriots in the Super Bowl LIII, we must listen to Big Bill Belichick be cranky and dismissive of the fans’ exuberance and expectations of waltzing to another Super Bowl and NFL title. Second place finishes are not good enough in Foxborough, and we all know it.
Those consecutive losses to Jacksonville (31-20) and, gulp, Detroit (26-10) had all of us looking up at the Miami Dolphins in the NFL’s AFC East standings, but Billy did not flinch and he was off to Gillette Stadium for an in-season adjustment period of three consecutive home games (Miami, Indianapolis and KC) and two straight 38-point performances. Whatever Belichick and Tom Brady can’t fix, surely the return of Julian Edelman and the performance of emerging running back Sony Michel will remedy.
As we know, in the NFL, as long as you can stay a game or two ahead of .500 in the AFC East, the last four weeks of the regular season are what really matter, and Big Bill will have the machine finely tuned by Thanksgiving, at the latest. So, don’t sweat the KC Chiefs this weekend because Belichick is, indeed, the finest coach in the land and he’s here in Boston.
And that brings us to Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox.
Cora made his MLB managerial debut this season and guided the Red Sox to a franchise-best 108 victories, trailing only 1961 New York Yankees rookie manager Ralph Houk (109) as the winningest rookie skippers of all-time. To say his debut on the big stage of Fenway was a success might be saying Neil Armstrong had a nice, leisurely stroll back in the Summer of ’69.
Speaking of Astros, Cora now faces his old Houston Astros team, a ball club he earned a 2017 World Series ring with as “just a coach.” The Red Sox hiring of Cora from the ‘Stros might be the best hire of a coach since the Chicago Bulls plucked Phil Jackson from the Albany Patroons, or at least since Danny Ainge grabbed Stevens from Butler.
Cora’s Sox are up against a Houston team that went (103-59) and it reminds the Red Sox of 2004 when they had to knock-off both New York (101-61) and St. Louis (105-57) to win a title. Those are the only times Boston has had to face two 100+ game winners in the postseason, a formidable task.
Interestingly, and maybe coincidentally, the Red Sox enter the ALCS as 2018’s best “home” team with a 57-24 record at Fenway this season while the Astros visit as MLB’s best “road” team of the regular season, at an impressive 57-24 as well.
The last 24 hours gave us all time to contemplate such things as the sporting world of Boston took a little snooze, a rare break at this time of year for the best town for sports in the world.