I will begin with sad news. This will be the last installment, whether written or visual, of Sports From A to B. Both Tyler Trudeau and I enjoyed the show, and we hope that somebody else will latch on to this idea and expand it, while retaining our enthusiasm and passion for sports journalism.
A good lead-in for a sad ending is a sad beginning, so I will begin with the Boston Red Sox. The other night’s loss marked the first time since 2006 that the Red Sox have been swept in a series by the New York Yankees. With that loss, the Red Sox fell to under .500 (12-13) for the first time this season. It was Boston’s 7th loss in its last 10 games, and dropped the Red Sox four games behind New York in the AL East.
The future of this team looks more and more uncertain, given the poor performance of the pitching staff to this point. This uncertainty was evidenced by two Pawtucket Red Sox being called up this past weekend – reliever Dalier Hinojosa and catcher Blake Swihart both made their debuts at Fenway. Swihart, the top-rated prospect in the Red Sox’ system, struggled in his first two games, going 1-for-7 and striking out four times. Hinojosa struggled as well in last night’s 8-5 loss, entering the game in a jam in the eighth inning. The Cuban righthander was able to hold the Yankees scoreless in both the eighth and the ninth, but not without walking three batters and plunking New York’s Chase Headley with a pitch.
Neither player performed the way a fan would hope, but their appearance creates some excitement. Opportunities like these may come more often if Boston is unable to return to its earlier success.
And a great balance for a sad beginning is a happy new beginning, making the Boston Celtics a fantastic note to end with. The C’s made one of the most impressive turnarounds in the NBA this season, improving last year’s win total by 15 games and advancing to the playoffs in coach Brad Stevens’ second season. Their final record of 40-42 does not fully reflect their achievement – Boston went 20-11 after the All-Star break without the help of Rajon Rondo or Jeff Green. The Celtics were a bunch of average players who played well together, and the team’s success without any star power was noticed around the league. Brad Stevens finished fourth in this year’s Coach of the Year voting, and even received two first-place votes.
Boston captured the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, but unsurprisingly were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round.
Celtic fans did not want to see this team make the playoffs, but it may be the best of all possible outcomes. Boston is reportedly looking to add DeMarcus Cousins, one of the best big men in the league, in the offseason. How likely this is remains unknown, but now that the Celtics have shown they can compete and that they have one of the youngest and brightest coaches in Brad Stevens, there is a contemporary appeal to playing in Boston to match the historical appeal.