Being a sports fan in New England is both a blessing and a curse. And sometimes, it’s a downright bizarre existence.
On one hand, fans regularly can expect their favorite teams to be playing meaningful games late into their respective seasons or postseasons. And for the last 20 years, that — more often than not — has led to elation, parades and other happy stuff. Furthermore, the heightened attention on the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins means neither of the four teams ever are far from the news cycle.
But on the other hand, these forces sometimes collide to induce anger, bewilderment and extreme stress. Boston sports fans felt all of those emotions, and probably many more, in spades Saturday.
Let’s wind back the clock to noon at Gillette Stadium.
It’s a beautiful Saturday (finally) at the home of the Patriots. Monster Energy AMA Supercross is in town, meaning the Gillette turf has been buried under a dirt track loaded with jumps, obstacles and things. Off-road motorcycles (dirt bikes) are flying through the air.
Oh, and tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has yet to confirm his status for the 2018 season, is scheduled to speak at a press conference. The All-Pro has been a ghost since the Super Bowl, and this presser represents his most public appearance since that fateful day in February.
So, will he say something meaningful?
Yeah, that’s a no. Sure, he might’ve (accidentally) hinted at returning, but that “press conference” was yet another A-plus troll job from Gronkowski, whose act might be wearing thin with Patriots fans.
Plus, what does Bill Belichick think of a two-time captain mocking offseason workouts in favor of making Supercross jokes? Maybe the Patriots head coach was laughing — but we doubt it.
OK, let’s fast-forward to 8 p.m. at TD Garden.
The Bruins are set to play the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 5 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoffs series. The B’s hold a 3-1 series lead, with a chance to eliminate their rivals to the north on home ice.
The Leafs took a 4-1 lead with that goal, and eventually left the Garden with a 4-3 victory. Tuukka Rask got pulled in the second period, and after the game offered a frank assessment of his performance. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, meanwhile, continued his Jekyll-and-Hyde act, stopping 42 of 45 shots. Is “Freddy” better than Rask? Nope, but he’s good enough to keep the Leafs in the series.
Boston fans planned to party after Game 5, instead they’ll nervously await Monday’s Game 6 in Toronto, and pray to the heavens that there’s not a Game 7 in Boston on Wednesday.
And for the finale: your world-beating Red Sox.
OK, no big deal. Gronk was weird, the Bruins let one slip away and everyone’s getting a little tired, but the Sox will provide a pick-me-up before it’s time to hit the hay.
If anyone was going to provide an emotional lift, it was going to be the Sox. They entered Saturday’s game against the Oakland Athletics with an MLB-best 17-2 record, after all. They also led all of baseball in hits, runs and batting average.
And the Sox still lead baseball in all those categories, plus many more, but they owe no thanks to A’s starter Sean Manaea.
In one of the great gut punches in recent Boston sports history, Manaea went out and no-hit the best offense in the majors.
Prior to Manaea’s gem, the Sox hadn’t been no-hit in 25 years.
Listen: this is the deal we made with the sporting gods. If we want the spoils of having four excellent teams in one town (we know, Foxboro, we know), then we have to deal with the other side, which sometimes can be puzzling, dark — or even puzzlingly (?) dark.
All fans can do Sunday is hope the Boston Celtics put Beantown on their backs and trounce the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 4. If they do, then they’ll have a 3-1 lead in their first-round NBA playoffs series, setting the stage for Tuesday’s potential series-clinching Game 5 in front of the Garden crowd.
Or, you know, maybe they’ll get blown out like they did in Game 3, and Boston’s collective misery will drag on for another day or two..
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images