Wednesday marked the final day of six years spent living at 7 Priscilla Rd. in Brighton. Through those six years, countless Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics games have been watched, with a healthy dose of Bruins games as well. There has even been the occasional Badgers or Packers game. So what moments will I remember best? Here are my top 10:
10) Red Sox 3, Angels 2 – ALDS Game 4, 10/6/08
This game wound up relatively insignificant since the Red Sox went on to lose to the Rays in seven games in the ALCS. Still, 2008 was the last year the Red Sox made the playoffs, and of all the exciting games during that postseason, this was the only one I watched at 7P. The Red Sox went up 2-0 in the fifth, then the Angels tied it in the eighth before blowing a suicide squeeze in the top of the ninth that would have given them the lead. The game was a preview of things to come: John Lackey started for the Angels that night (and complained about a muffed double play that led to the Red Sox’s first run), and Jed Lowrie hit a walk-off single to win the game and hand the Angels their fourth consecutive playoff loss to the Red Sox.
9) Celtics 88, Heat 80 – Celtics’ Season Opener, 10/26/10
The 2010 NBA off-season was all about the Heat’s acquisitions of LeBron James and Chris Bosh to complement Dwyane Wade and form another “Big Three.” Boston’s reigning Big Three didn’t take too kindly to that, especially a year after a seven-game NBA Finals loss to the Lakers. Though Miami’s Big Three outscored Boston’s by three that night, 13 points off the bench from Glen Davis sealed the victory. After the game, Rajon Rondo was asked if the Heat were now the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. Unabashedly, Rondo replied, “I think we are.”
8) Jon Lester’s No-Hitter – Red Sox 7, Royals 0, 5/19/08
Cross this one off the list of sports accomplishments I’d like to see before I die (even if on TV). Perhaps the coolest thing about this no-hitter was the bear hug Terry Francona gave Jon Lester after it was over. We might bash Francona for his folksiness, but his deep affection for his players is undeniable. In one year, Lester beat non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, won the clinching game of a World Series (see No. 1) and pitched a no-hitter. That’s gotta rank up there for “most awesome year ever,” right?
7) Patriots 38, Giants 35 – NFL Week 17, 12/29/07
The 2007-08 NFL season ended with heartbreak (see No. 6), but the Patriots’ Week 17 victory over the Giants – which completed the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history – was incredibly exciting. We were in the midst of a grunge-themed birthday party, but everyone was glued to the screen as Tom Brady and Randy Moss tied and then broke the NFL single-season records for passing and receiving touchdowns. When the game ended, the general feeling was a mixture of joy and arrogance. Who could possibly withstand the offensive juggernaut that was the 2007 New England Patriots? Who was left that could derail a 19-0 season? As it turned out, these guys could…
6) Giants 17, Patriots 14 – Super Bowl XLII, 2/3/08
For 59 minutes, watching Super Bowl XLII at 7P was awesome. Our living room was jam-packed, with people sitting on couches, chairs, floors, ceilings (not really), whatever they could find. There was food everywhere. Tom Petty gave a great halftime performance, and we all sang “Free Fallin'” together. And when Brady hit Moss inside three minutes to go up 14-10, we thought it was all over. The Patriots would go 19-0, Mercury Morris would be banished back to the Phantom Zone, and as fans we would have bragging rights over all other fanbases forever and ever. Then gigantic homophobe David Tyree made the catch of his short and otherwise pointless career in the final minute of the game, the Patriots lost, and a deep sense of melancholy and depression settled over everyone. Part of my emotional connection to sports died that day: if caring as much about a team as I did those Patriots meant suffering through that again, it wasn’t worth it. Still, it was a major sporting event that can’t be left off the list.
5) Packers 31, Steelers 25 – Super Bowl XLV, 2/6/11
To be honest, I quit really caring about the Packers after their “Fourth-and-26” divisional-round loss to the Eagles in 2004. Still, I grew up a Packers fan, my parents are Packers fans, and several of my friends are Packers fans. And given they were playing against two-time accused rapist Ben Roethlisberger, I was especially happy to see the Packers return to form and win a Super Bowl. The get-together at 7P for this Super Bowl (on our fancy then-new HD television) was modest, but any time Packers fans get together, cheese, sausages and alcohol will always result. And those are all good things, right?
4) U.S. beats France in 4×100 m freestyle relay – Beijing Olympics, 8/11/2008
This may be the most exciting swimming race I have ever seen. Michael Phelps had already won one gold, but needed help from his teammates to take this one and continue his (successful) quest for eight golds in one Olympics. And help he got, especially from anchor Jason Lezak. As we watched this race, everyone moved closer and closer to the edge of their seats. When the tension grew too great to remain seated, we all stood. By the end of the race, we were all screaming at a television screen. When the U.S. won, we shouted as if we had just won gold ourselves. I’m not sure any sporting event has ever gotten as loud a reaction out of 7P denizens as this race did. And on top of it all, we beat the French!
3) Bruins 4, Canucks 0 – Stanley Cup Game 7, 6/15/11
I’m not a Bruins fan; I’ve never claimed to be a Bruins fan. I know something about Bobby Orr, way less about Cam Neely, Phil Esposito and Ray Bourque, and that’s it. I watched the 2011 NHL Playoffs not because I felt a deep need to see the Bruins win a Stanley Cup, but only because I kept finding myself raptly entertained by the games. Luckily, a friend of mine who is a far deeper Bruins fan that I am (or likely ever will be) came over to watch Game 7. Seeing him go through all the emotions of the long-suffering fan – fatalism, guarded optimism, disbelief, happiness – as the Bruins dominated Roberto Luongo and the Canucks was almost like feeling all those emotions myself. My friend suffered a personal tragedy soon after the Bruins’ victory. I hope his memory of the Bruins is untarnished by that tragedy, and I hope the joy he experienced when they won provides some relief from the grief I’m sure he feels.
2) Celtics 131, Lakers 92 – NBA Finals Game 6, 6/17/08
I wasn’t a basketball fan before the 2007-08 season, but when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined Paul Pierce, something told me I ought to follow this team. And so I did, albeit dispassionately. I refused to care too much whether they won or lost, only checking in from time to time to confirm they were good enough to merit my attention. They were. Their clinching Game 6 victory over the Lakers in the NBA Finals was one of the biggest blowouts I’d ever seen. Three Celtics scored over 20 points, with two more scoring over 10. Rondo stole six balls, helping set an NBA Finals team-steals record with 18. Pierce was named MVP after a giving every ounce of energy away across the six games. It was an easy-going, uncontested, relatively stress-free final game. I had a ton of fun watching it, and I’m very grateful an off-hand urge translated into another championship watched at 7P. When it was all over, we danced in the driveway.
1) Red Sox 4, Rockies 3 – World Series Game 4, 10/28/07
I am a Red Sox fan above all other teams. I feel good when they win and bad when they lose. I know much of the history and most of the great names in Red Sox lore. I read books, watch old DVDs and blog constantly about the Red Sox. Their 2004 World Series victory purged 86 years of failure, but that championship was perhaps more for those fans who had lived through a far greater percentage of those 86 years than I had (my only really negative experience was Aaron Boone in the 2003 ALCS). The 2007 World Series was for the younger generation of Red Sox fans. It washed away any residual feeling that 2004 was a fluke, capping a regular season in which the Red Sox won the AL East and had the best record in the MLB. 2004 was about tradition; 2007 was about dominance. When it ended, my friends and I tried to sojourn to Fenway as we did in 2004. We were turned back near the Blandford St. stop on the B-Line. Along the way, everyone we passed thought one friend was Kevin Youkilis.
* * *
7 Priscilla, I will miss you. You were my home.