By John Simonini
One Stanley Cup. One NBA Championship. Three World Series rings. Three Super Bowl banners. Welcome to Title Town, USA.
Boston sports teams have had tremendous success over the past 15 years. The level of expectation the city has cast upon the teams has drastically increased since 2000, as the teams have found success.
The New England Patriots had some playoff success in the 1990’s, making it to the Super Bowl in 1997, but the team had never before won a Super Bowl. Nobody expected the Patriots to win the big one.
The Pats were the first to kick off the local title explosion in 2001, under star quarterback Drew Bledsoe’s successor: Tom Brady.
“We only have had two quarterbacks, Bledsoe and Brady, one owner, three head coaches, all three have won Super Bowl Championships,” said Stacey James, vice president of Media Relations for the Pats.
Before the Pats began a run of three Super Bowl titles in four years, the last Boston title was won in 1986 by the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics were going through a period of mediocrity at the turn of the century. With nothing but a young Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker, the team made a few playoff appearances, but never managed to find complete success.
The Celtics finally answered their championship calling in 2008, when they traded for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to pair up with Pierce, creating a new Big Three. The C’s coasted to the NBA Championship after a dominant season.
Even as the team enters a re-building stage, the high bar of expectations set by their predecessors is still looming. The Celtics selected Oklahoma St. point guard Marcus Smart with the sixth pick in the 2014 draft.
The TD Banknorth Garden’s other club, the Boston Bruins, also found themselves in a championship drought, having not won a Stanley Cup since the 70’s.
In the early 2000’s, the Bruins, much like the Celtics and Pats, managed to just scrape themselves into the playoffs but kept hitting a ceiling.
In 2011, 39 years after their last title, the Bruins brought the Cup back to Boston.
Now, the Bruins are annually one of the top teams in the NHL, led by top-tier goalie Tuuka Rask, skilled forward Patrice Bergeron, and defensive behemoth Zdeno Chara.
The Boston Red Sox had possibly the worst history of all Boston teams. They would manage to squeeze into the playoffs occasionally, but once again, no championships. Fans would anticipate the team falling apart year after year.
That all changed in 2004, when the team came back from 3-0 in the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees and went on to sweep in the World Series, launching the Sox into a period of success. The team ended an 86 year title drought, and established themselves as a championship regular.
They would win in 2004, 2007 and 2013. In 2013, the club seemed to rally around the city and help to heal wounds that were opened by the Boston Marathon Bombing earlier in the year.
This city has high hopes and expectations from all four teams. The development of the teams in this millennium is refreshing for the city of Boston.