The Bruins and Celtics still have plenty to play for and are every bit the contenders they hoped to be when entering the season. Both should have an opportunity to end this town's "championship drought," now on its way to at least three years after the Patriots fell to the New York Jets on Sunday in Foxboro (in case you hadn't heard).
However, the eyes of many will now turn to the Red Sox, the Pats' chief rival in the battle for city supremacy among its legion of four-sport fans. They are the George Washington and Abe Lincoln of the town's Mount Rushmore, slightly overshadowing their counterparts due to multiple championships and a run of prolonged success over the past decade.
Fortunately, for those looking for a salve to soothe their football-related wounds, the Sox have something worth getting excited about. Unfortunately, there is a lesson in what happened at Gillette Stadium — be careful what you wish for; it can hurt so much more when it doesn't come true.
It was not uncommon to hear a Pats fan say in the past week that a loss to the Jets on Sunday would sting more than the Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants nearly three years ago. The smack talk and sheer hatred between the two combatants had much to do with that. But the supposed ease with which the Patriots were expected to roll mattered just as much. Essentially, fans were sick with the thought of the best team with the best quarterback and the best coach, their team and their quarterback and their coach, falling at home amid such an extreme run of dominance and to an opponent that had enough issues to make it a mere stepping stone to glory.
The Patriots were too good to lose to a team like the Jets, or anyone for that matter. Not now.
Such a mindset is dangerously apt for fans of the Red Sox, who will be as loaded as any in the game, and whose rivals in New York and Tampa Bay have had less-than-satisfying offseasons, especially compared to that of the Sox.
With Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler and others brought into the fold, and a handful of stars back from injury, the Red Sox are like the 14-2, top-seeded Patriots, about ready to pounce on their woebegone opponents down I-95. Before you point out the obvious fact that the Pats were playing in the second round of the playoffs and the Sox haven't even reached spring training, keep in mind this is only a discussion of expectations. Remember, the Pats weren't expected to do much just about two months ago. On Sunday, they were, and until someone has a reason to think otherwise, so, too, will the Sox.
With a history of success like that of recent Patriots and Red Sox teams comes those expectations. With expectations comes incredible anticipation like that which surrounded Sunday's affair. Combine incredible anticipation with defeat, and you have a recipe for extreme disappointment, such as that which will hang over Pats fans for some time.
As the Jets prepare to fly to Pittsburgh for their second AFC Championship game in as many years, fans of New England can turn their attention to the Red Sox, the other big dog in a town loaded with them. It would be foolish to not view their upcoming season with excitement, but even in a place rather familiar with success, that excitement can come with a cost. Consider what happened Sunday in Foxboro a cautionary tale.