The swagger-less Patriots are in reconstruction mode after doing their best impersonation of a USFL team against the Ravens.
The banged-up Celtics might have to coax Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish out of retirement just to finish the season with five healthy starters.
The inconsistent Bruins are beginning to resemble a first-round-playoff-exit contender more than a Stanley Cup hopeful.
And the bridge-to-somewhere Red Sox will open the decade staring straight up at the world champion Yankees.
Even Boston native Conan O’Brien is getting disrespected.
But O’Brien isn’t rolling over for NBC and its plan to return Jay Leno to his old 11:35 p.m. time slot. O’Brien went on the offensive this week, unleashing a sharply worded statement to let the corporate behemoth know he’s not going to play flunky for anyone – not the Chin, Letterman, or ghost of Jack Parr.
O’Brien isn’t a fall guy. The Harvard grad and former Simpsons writer has no intention of fading out of sight without a fight — it’s not part of his DNA. He’s standing up to NBC and won’t be pushed around by puppet masters in suits who have their hands on the panic button.
This is precisely the kind of attitude and approach Boston sports teams should adopt.
Just because it’s a new decade doesn’t mean the Patriots have to return to the days of mediocrity. They can get back to being feared by taking care of business this offseason. It starts by re-signing Vince Wilfork. Adding a running back who that can hold onto the ball and run between the tackles might not be a bad idea, either. The same goes for finding a pass rush and an offensive coordinator who realizes a tight end can do more than just block. A little more veteran leadership could help, and so would another wide receiver weapon for Tom Brady.
Doc Rivers can relate. The man who made ubuntu a part of the basketball lexicon is being tested by injuries this season. He has seen his team hit a rough patch and is growing frustrated with losses to opponents the Celtics are used to beating. While the Green aren’t getting any younger, they still are an elite team in the East. If Danny Ainge decides to pull the trigger before the trade deadline, they could have a shot at being the last team standing in June.
The Bruins pose a similar challenge for Peter Chiarelli. Even the sunniest optimist would have a hard time admitting that the current roster is built to win a championship. The Bruins lack a legitimate sniper who’s capable of finding the back of the net every time he steps on the ice. Phil Kessel didn’t have the right makeup to play in Claude Julien’s system, but the Bruins need to find a goal-scorer who does, or this season could end on a sour note.
Ask the Red Sox. Their playoff run was so short, it almost felt like they didn’t even taste October. To pour Tabasco sauce on the wound, the Yankees won the World Series. Just the thought of the pinstripes being No. 1 is enough to make most New Englanders want to cringe.
But it doesn’t have to stay that way. The Red Sox could have enough pitching and defense to compensate for the power bats in the lineup they lack. If they don’t, Adrian Gonzalez — or some other slugger — could be a trade away in July to give them the boost they need.
So keep hope alive.
Cue the Rocky music.
Imagine it’s the Year 2000.
And don’t worry.
Conan O’Brien will land on his feet a very rich man, and Boston is a long way off from turning into Kansas City as a sports town — even if the Chiefs take every player and coach who ever cashed a paycheck from The Kraft Group.