Ranking The Boston Sports Championships Of The Past Two Decades
In my 26 years on this planet I have seen a total of 12 Boston championships in the four major sports. I, like most New Englander's in my generation, am what you might call "spoiled." All I've really experienced is winning and that's why I can sit here and rank which championships I care about from "eh, that's a nice trophy I guess" to "IF WE HADN'T WON THIS ONE I WOULD HAVE LOST MY MIND." It's probably totally obnoxious and infuriating to a fan who knows what suffering is and would do anything for just one title, but hey, who cares?
In all seriousness, all of the championships have been great and special in some unique way. Due to the lack of sports news, many people are doing rankings, projections or some type of opinion/hypothetical to pass the time and maybe spur some debate. I'm going to do that here a bit by going ahead and proceeding with the championship rankings. Feel free to reach out and tell me what you think (about my rankings, your rankings or just to tell me to stop and appreciate winning a bit more instead of making a mockery of it).
12. 2007 World Series - This championship was probably the least dramatic of them all. The Sox went wire to wire as a powerhouse team and just never looked like anything less than a world champ. They were stacked up and down the roster and really only had one moment of real adversity, when they were down 3-1 to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. Of course, they battled back and then made quick work of the Colorado Rockies in the World Series. It was largely boring.
11. 2011 Stanley Cup - I have to put the Stanley Cup up here above the '07 Sox although hockey is my least favorite of the major sports. I love having at least one title from each team so if you were asking me to trade the 07 World Series for the '11 Cup, I definitely would. I just can't put it any higher because the NHL doesn't grip me quite the same and I don't live and die with the Bruins like I do the Pats, Celtics and Sox.
10. Super Bowl LIII - This is where things start to get difficult. The last Patriots Super Bowl was needed for a variety of reasons. No one believed in them, Brady was old, Gronk was washed, they had to take down two juggernauts in the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams, it was Brady's 6th which tied him with Michael Jordan for professional titles. To add to that, it was retribution for the year before. It cemented another decade of dominance. It ended up being the last of the Brady-Belichick era. I'd hate to give it up. I'll tell you why it lands here though...
Without the sixth ring, Brady still goes down as the unquestioned greatest QB of all time. His legacy, and that of Bill Belichick and this organization, is already set. This was simply icing on the cake. Add in the fact that it was the worst Super Bowl ever, and I'll throw it out before I throw out this next one.
9. Super Bowl XXXVIII - This was an all-time Super Bowl that came down to more Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri heroics, but when you think of the opponent being the Carolina Panthers and Jake Delhomme it kinda takes the shine off a little bit.
8. Super Bowl XXXIX - Does the third Pats Super Bowl get enough love? No, definitely not. Just because it didn't really come down to some defining moment at the end doesn't mean it wasn't memorable. They had to beat a great coach in Any Reid, a great QB in Donovan McNabb and an extremely talented Philadelphia Eagles team. It was also back-to-back and gave us the ability to call the Pats a dynasty for the first time.
7. Super Bowl XXXVI - Look, I know a lot of people put this first Pats Super Bowl near the top but I was only like 7 at the time so it doesn't hit the same for me. This is my first real sports memory. It was obviously cool, but it just didn’t matter to me the way it would if I had been older.
It was an awesome story of an underdog beating "The Greatest Show on Turf" and it was an awesome game that came down to relative unknown Tom Brady, driving down the field and setting up fellow future Hall of Famer, Adam Vinatieri, to kick the game winner. This one sparked a dynasty and the greatest run of any professional sports franchise ever, but I just can't appreciate it quite the same as some of the others because of my age at the time.
6. 2018 World Series - To me, it seems like there are some weird mixed emotions about this team among Boston fans. I guess some people really hated some of their players, like David Price, or they just didn't get too attached due to the fact that this was another behemoth with a big payroll doing what it was supposed to do. People expected a title out of the Sox and moreso took this as a "yea, well if they hadn't won it would have been a choke job."
Sure, the Red Sox won the most games of any Red Sox team EVER. They were the best team in baseball, but to me this was never a sure-thing. The Houston Astros were the defending champs and they were still formidable (and also cheating, as we now know). The Yankees were really, really good as well and when we play, it's always a toss-up. The Sox had to go through those two and then play the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are no slouch either, in the World Series. I thought it was the best example of a great team proving it's greatness by surviving the ultimate gauntlet of opponents. Plus, I found them likeable enough.
5. 2008 NBA Championship - I have to put this Celtics championship up here because I wanted Pierce and KG to win so bad. The fact that they took out a young LeBron James and his Cleveland team, an established winner in the Detroit Pistons, and then Kobe Bryant and the rival Lakers, was awesome. If we didn’t have this title I’d be really upset. Need it.
4. Super Bowl XLIX - This one was against a hateable Seahawks team that was looking to become a dynasty, and it was in the thick of the Deflategate crap. The game itself was wildly entertaining and well-played on both sides before it came all the way down to unknown cornerback Malcolm Butler at the end. When he picked off Russell Wilson at the goal line to win, he was literally snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in an instant.
3. 2013 World Series - The '13 team almost makes it into the top two for me. In one way, it's because of a shared experience that I and so many other Massachusetts residents had in April of 2013. When the Boston Marathon bombing happened, we needed to heal and rally as a city. The Sox were a huge piece of that and they carried that with them from spring all the way to late October.
In another way, this one holds a special place for me because of an experience that I'm sure was similar to a lot of people, but different from a lot as well. I was in college for this run and watching that postseason in my dorm room with all of my friends was the most fun I've ever had while watching one team. Add in the fact that this was coming off an extremely disappointing few years for the Sox and that they had low expectations coming in to the season as it was a team of under dogs and chemistry guys. They all stepped up big time, gave us something to cheer for and inspired us. There are only two that could beat that...
2. 2004 World Series - Obviously the 86 year thing is great but that didn’t really effect me because I was 10. The comeback over the Yankees though, really makes this one amazing. That and obviously finishing the job (in dominating fashion over the St. Louis Cardinals) meant so much to so many people and it’ll always be a life-changing moment for many generations of Boston fans.
1. Super Bowl LI - I mean, this was just the sweetest. Between Deflategate and the 4-game ban Brady served, all the New England hate, Brady's mom being sick and finally at a game, playing the league-best Falcons led by regular season MVP Matt Ryan, the lows of 28-3 to the highs of victory, this game just could not have been a more storybook script. I'd never, ever give this one away.
In conclusion, I've loved every single one of these. Would I trade a few for an undefeated '07 Patriots team? Yes, but I'm still happy to be able to say I've experienced this all. Hopefully there is more to come when sports return.