As we approach the end of 2009, I feel it’s time to reflect on how our teams performed in 2009 and think about how they might perform in the new season. So without further ado, a look at all four sports teams.
Bruins: For the first time I got into hockey for the 2008-2009 season. It was surprisingly entertaining. The Bruins had a strong young group with Phil Kessel, Patrice Bergeron, and especially Milan Lucic. It carried them to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Carolina Hurricanes. In my opinion, sweeping the Montreal Canadiens in the previous round drained them of all of their fight. They looked tired and emotionless, and they got consistently outplayed by Carolina. They were lucky to make it to seven games against them. This season seems to be marked by injury and inconsistent play. Once the Bruins get healthy, I foresee good things for them. They’re a lock to make the playoffs come 2010, and maybe it’s finally their turn to win a championship.
Celtics: The 2008-2009 team played pretty well despite the loss of Kevin Garnett for most of the season. They had a phenomenally exciting playoff series against the Chicago Bulls, then got beat in the 2nd round by the Orlando Magic, who went on to the NBA Championship. We saw the emergence of Rajon Rondo and Glen Davis in those series, and their growth and maturation will pay dividends for the C’s as this season continues. This season has seen a very strong start for the Celtics, especially on the road. The addition of Rasheed Wallace has bolstered an already deep bench. We’ve also seen the emergence of Tony Allen as a solid NBA player as he’s gotten more playing time in the last couple of weeks. The main issue with the team this year and moving forward is going to be its starters’ age and health. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have already missed games due to injury, and Ray Allen is playing more minutes than ever before. Doc Rivers needs to balance PT with keeping the starters fresh for the playoffs, and right now I’m not sure he’s doing a good enough job. The Celtics are an elite team this year. When they’re healthy, I think they’re the best team in the NBA. They will go to the playoffs and, as long as their starters remain healthy, will do some definite damage.
Patriots: The 2008 Patriots ended their season without making the playoffs, so there’s not much to say about them in 2009. This season’s team remains an enigma. They looked great against Jacksonville, but HORRIBLE against New Orleans. They gave away more leads than they ever have before. And the one-dimensionality of the offense has made it hard for them to get into an offensive rhythm. Teams are sitting on the pass, and it’s killing the Pats’ chances to score points. The bright spot has been the career year for Wes Welker. He is quicker than any wide receiver I’ve ever seen. He made the Pro Bowl as a reserve (he got snubbed), and he deserved it. So come the playoffs, it will come down to which team we get. If we get the team we saw against Jacksonville, the AFC is in trouble. If we get New Orleans Patriots, we might be a one-and-done team this year. What’s frustrating is that you just don’t know.
Red Sox: The 2008-2009 Red Sox came within a game of the World Series, but fell to Tampa Bay. This season was marked by inconsistency. The Sox tried out a number of aging pitchers, such as Brad Penny and John Smoltz, none of whom worked out. The back of their rotation never stabilized, and it hurt the Sox’s ability to win multiple games in a row. The offense was equally inconsistent. At times the team struggled to score runs, at other times they scored in bunches. David Ortiz had an off year (or maybe just succumbed to age and stress from the revelations of his steroid use), but Jason Bay had an All-Star year. The addition of Victor Martinez was a shot in the arm for the team. Unfortunately, it was not enough to get them anywhere in the playoffs. The pitching was there, but the offense never got started against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This coming year, I am worried that the Sox didn’t do enough to bolster their lineup. John Lackey will help lengthen an already strong rotation, but none of the offensive additions will strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers. And the Sox still need to figure out what to do with Mike Lowell. They can’t keep snubbing him year after year and expect him to try if he’s still with Boston come April.
So there you have it: 2009 from the perspective of our four major sports teams. 2009 seemed like a season of “almost.” The Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox almost got to the championship round. The Patriots almost made the playoffs. And Boston almost celebrated another championship. Here’s hoping 2010 will be stronger. To all my readers, I thank you for following me since I began this blog six months ago. Happy New Year!