I heard noted sports commentator “Frank from Gloucester” on the WEEI airwaves this week gleefully stating that the Bruins blowing a 3-0 series lead and a 3-0 lead in game seven of their second round playoff series takes the 2004 New York Yankees and THEIR choke job for the ages off the hook. Frank just happens to be a vocal Yankees fan.
Why WEEI allows him on the radio in the first place is a mystery, but that’s a topic for another day. But does his claim in this case have any merit to it at all?
No. None at all. The Yankees are secure in their place in history, for a number of reasons.
The first of which is that this comeback from three games down in a seven-game playoff series has only happened four times in history. Three of those times have happened in the NHL. It’s never happened in the NBA, and only once in Major League Baseball - those 2004 Yankees.
You need to only look at this season’s NHL playoffs in order to see that anything can happen in this sport. It’s no fluke that the 0-3 comeback has happened multiple times. Upsets of the number one seed happen quite frequently. Right now in the Eastern conference finals, the 7th seeded Philadelphia Flyers are taking on the 8th seeded Montreal Canadiens, meaning all six of the top teams in the conference have already been eliminated. Out West however, the top two seeds are playing for the right to go to the finals.
In the NBA, things go much more according to form, in 2007 the Dallas Mavericks became the first ever top seed to lose to an 8th seed in a best-of-seven playoff series. Most of the time, the top seeds move on. Not so in the NHL. Fluky things happen in the NHL playoffs, such as top seeds losing, and teams coming back from 0-3 deficits.
Also consider the context and circumstances of that 2004 series. The Red Sox were fighting the reputation of being a “Cursed” team, battling 86 years of futility, and playing a team that had been in the World Series six of the previous eight years, winning four of those titles. Just the year before they had defeated the Red Sox in the postseason on the devastating extra innings Aaron Boone game seven home run. They then ran out to that commanding 3-0 lead in the 2004 ALCS, which included a 19-8 rout at Fenway Park in game three.
Every piece of available evidence and history indicated that this series was over, and practically everyone declared it to be so.
For the Yankees to blow that type of situation and allow the Red Sox to reel off four straight wins, including game seven at Yankee Stadium is the type of historic collapse the likes of which have never been seen, before or since.
The Bruins were a sixth seed in this year’s playoffs, and pretty lucky to be that high. They squeaked out a couple of those first three games, by no means where they dominant in getting out to the 3-0 series lead. There were no expectations coming into the playoffs for the Bruins, and they’re working on 38 years without a title. For them to blow that lead is inexcusable, embarrassing and disgraceful, but by no means does it exceed what the 2004 Yankees “accomplished.”