We say it this time of year all the time now, but what a wild year in the history of Boston sports! We truly are spoiled as three of the four major pro teams in the Hub are now in title contention - meaning that Boston’s status as “Title Town” is not going to cease anytime soon. Here are the 10 storylines we’ll remember - for better, or worse - from 2017.
10. Bruins fire Claude
The Bruins’ timing for this move was pathetic as it occurred right in the middle of the Patriots’ Super Bowl parade. That said, it was probably time for Claude Julien to go. Bruce Cassidy took over and the B’s immediately begin to rack up wins. They also returned to the playoffs, where they fell to the Ottawa Senators in six games.
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The Bruins continue to feel like the only team in town that is treading water. At 17-10-5 this season (smack-dab in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings), they just have the vibe of a team that won’t be great but also won’t be awful for the next five years.
9. Chris Sale
The new Red Sox ace did not disappoint in the least throughout the summer as he finished his first season in Boston with a whopping 308 strike outs. It was the most K’s registered by an American League pitcher since Pedro Martinez fanned 313 in 1999. Sale finished second behind the Indians Corey Kluber in Cy Young voting.
8. Gordon Hayward
For the second straight Fourth of July, Celtics fans were checking their phones in between turning hot dogs as Hayward (eventually) signed with the C’s in free agency. Five minutes into his Celtics career, Hayward’s left ankle and tibia snapped in half – changing the course of the Celtics’ season. There are rumblings, however, that Hayward might be able to make it back for the Celtics’ playoff run this coming spring.
7. David Price – Eck feud
A feud between a current Red Sox pitcher and a former Sox hurler. How fun!?
Price embarrassed Dennis Eckersley on a team flight, shouting, “There he is – the greatest pitcher who ever lived! This game is easy for him!” when Eckersley boarded. When Eckersley tried to speak, Price reportedly shouted, “Get the [expletive] outta here!”
Price’s rage apparently came from Eckersley having simply said, “Yuck,” when he saw the recent statistics of Eduardo Rodriguez.
6. Patriots slow start
Haven’t we learned by now?
The Patriots have righted the ship, but a few months back there was legit worry that we were witnessing the end of the Pats’ dynasty. With many pundits (including this one) predicting that the Pats would go undefeated in 2017, the Pats were dominated by the Chiefs on opening night, losing 42-27 at home. They won the next two games over the Saints and Texans but then lost again at home – to the Panthers on Oct. 1.
5. Celtics run to ECF
Isaiah Thomas captured the hearts of Boston fans last spring when he played in the hours after the death of his sister, Chyna, in a car crash. Wearing his emotions on his sleeve night-in and night-out, Thomas had a brilliant postseason - highlighted by his 53-point effort in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Wizards.
4. Racism at Fenway
Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones claimed he was “called the N-word” by fans at Fenway Park in early May, and the old stereotype of Boston fans having “race issues” jumped to the forefront of a national debate. In September a banner that read, “Racism is as American as Baseball” was unfurled on the Green Monster during a game.
3. Patriots trade Jimmy Garoppolo
In a move that will likely be debated for decades in Boston sports, the Patriots dealt backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers on the night before Halloween. Many Pats fans were hoping for a better return than a second round draft pick considering how high Garoppolo’s stock was around the time of the NFL Draft in the spring. Jimmy G is now 3-0 as the starter in San Francisco and looks like one of the league’s top up-and-coming players at 26-years-old.
2. Kyrie – Isaiah trade
It was one of the biggest blockbuster trades in the history of Boston sports as Danny Ainge traded the beloved Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the 2018 Brooklyn Nets unprotected pick in exchange for Kyrie Irving on the night of Aug. 22. Isaiah said he may never talk to Ainge again, and Kyrie is currently an MVP candidate as the Celtics have one of the best records in the NBA.
1. Patriots win Super Bowl LI
The Patriots trailed the Falcons, 24-0, at halftime of the Super Bowl and 28-3 late in the third quarter. Somehow, someway, the Pats found a way to pull out victory in the first overtime game in Super Bowl history, and without question – the most dramatic football game ever played.
Tom Brady came away with the fifth Super Bowl ring of his illustrious career and got to receive the Super Bowl MVP trophy from loathed commissioner Roger Goodell following two years of Deflategate drama.