Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Number 17 on the 17th. Way to go!

I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to congratulate the Boston Celtics on winning their 17th World Championship. It was a great series after a great season. It certainly was a treat, especially after the woes of last season. The record turnaround in games won was nothing compared to the turnaround of the fan base. Expectations are back to Celtic fans.

As I look at the Celtics first championship in 21 years, I can’t help but see the parallels between this team and the 2004 Red Sox team that broke a rather long championship drought. The Sox weren’t as bad in 2003 as the Celtics were last season, obviously, although, Pierce, Jefferson and the #5 pick would have been a pretty good team in the East, you’d think. Each team was lacking something, and addressed those needs with off-season acquisitions. In both cases, they didn’t just get great players, but players that fit their specific needs. The Sox added much needed pitching in the form of Keith Foulke and Curt Schilling. The Celtics needed better defense, and fixed that with Kevin Garnet. They also added Ray Allen to spread the floor more for Pierce. So, in each case existing superstars were aided by two huge off-season pick-ups. Each team also understood the need for quality role players. The Sox added Mientkiewicz and Roberts midseason to fill specific holes in speed and defense. The Celtics added PJ Brown and Sam Cassell to specifically add some veteran leadership. In each case, the role players knew their role, and did exactly what they needed. Both organizations understood the difference between a fantasy team, and a championship team.

I’ve often complained that the Yankees get all the calls when they play. I’ve suggested it’s in MLB’s best interests to have their largest market do well. And, while I still think that is the case, it was nothing compared to the game manipulation that I saw during the Finals. Before each game, I could almost tell you exactly what was going to happen. The Celtics would perform well at home, and they’d get most of the foul calls. Then, after those lopsided games, the Lakers and Kobe would get every call. Game four was the toss-up. It was the only game to that point that was in doubt beforehand. And, it played out that way with the big comeback. After that, you know that the Lakers would win to give the highly rated series more games. And it played out with the Celtics getting fouls called on them while they were checking into the game. So, you knew the Celtics would be rewarded at home. Exactly according to plan, the Celtics win huge. I think Disney forgot the games were on ABC, and thought they were a Touchtone production. I find myself not thinking, “I can’t believe the Celtics won!” as much as thinking, “I can’t believe the NBA had the Celtics win!” The sad part for the NBA is that I don’t think I’m alone.

Maybe the Red Sox can take a hint from the green and finally win a championship at home? (And, how spoiled are we as Red Sox fans now that I’m asking for specific places to win a World Series?)

Once again, congratulations to the Boston Celtics. Welcome to the party.

Now, if we could just get our football team to play along.

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