Any opponent who’s crossed paths with the Patriots, Celtics, Bruins or Red Sox has learned this lesson the hard way.
The experience has scarred many for life. Some draw the shades and no longer leave the house. Others can’t step onto a football field, baseball diamond, hockey rink or basketball court without breaking out in a cold sweat and being reduced to a bowl of Jell-O. The most painful cases end up in a padded room like Ray Finkle.
There are reminders of the horror everywhere. All it takes is one moment at Fenway, Gillette or the Garden to trigger the frightening scene.
Paul Pierce, ball in hands, top of the key, 10 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, Celtics down by one. Drive, dish or shoot. The Truth makes a living as an assassin. He breaks hearts and ankles for fun. His picture is in the dictionary next to “defender’s worst nightmare.”
Tom Brady, shotgun formation, any given Sunday, running the two-minute drill. He will pick apart a defense the way Bob Dylan strums a guitar. Anywhere but across the line of scrimmage is a better place to be.
Milan Lucic, center of the ice, gloves off, introducing his right fist to somebody’s face like a sledgehammer pounds cement. After the victim’s mug looks like ground chuck, the unlucky palooka will be wishing he’d stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.
Josh Beckett, after a Red Sox loss and a bad night of sleep. When he’s on, there’s no one nastier. Brush back with 96 mph chin music. Paint corners with 96 mph seeds. Buckle knees with Captain Hook. Repeat.
Vince Wilfork and the postgame spread. After he cleans a team’s clock on the field, he’ll clean out their buffet. Keep your hands, arms, legs and feet away from his mouth at all times.
Terry Francona, after an umpire with an inconsistent strike zone rings up a Red Sox hitter in the late innings of a close ballgame. If the blue is squeezing Boston pitchers but calling balls in Rhode Island strikes for the other side, beware of flying spittle and some R-rated language. Francona is going to get his money’s worth.
Dustin Pedroia, against the hardest thrower in the history of baseball. Bring it. Pedroia hasn’t met a fastball that can get past his swing.
Rasheed Wallace. Don’t make the big fella mad or give less than 100 percent. You wouldn’t like him when he’s mad. Ask Arvydas Sabonis or any referee.
Bill Belichick after someone asks a dumb question at a news conference or spills the beans about the Patriots’ scouting techniques. Gibraltar won’t be a big enough rock for the reporter to hide under, and a cold shoulder will seem like a warm embrace compared to the freezeout Benedict Arnold gets.
When the vampires, werewolves and witches come out of the woodwork this weekend, don’t be afraid. Just be thankful you don’t have to face one of Boston’s sports monsters.
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