This is shaping up to be a good week for Boston fans. It appears that even on this Tuesday afternoon, this week will be one talked about for a long time. And it won’t be because of Memorial Day barbecues or visits with family or the unofficial start of summer. It will be all about the local sports teams.
A recap of the last few days alone:
Friday, May 16: This will hopefully be remembered as the unofficial end of that nonsense story, Spygate. Earlier in the week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that the Patriots wouldn’t be sanctioned again after his meeting with the hard-to-believe Matt Walsh.
He released tapes of what Walsh had in his possession, which consisted of shots of the crowd, cheerleader performances and very grainy shots of coaches and defenses.
Of course, Sen. Arlen Specter knows there isn’t much going on in the world today – the economy is fine, there isn’t a war, unemployment is at an all-time low, gas prices are the lowest in years – that he will focus on everything Patriots and Bill Belichick for the foreseeable future. (And, yes, between the dashes was meant as sarcasm.)
Saturday, May 17: Red Sox sweep a doubleheader from the Milwaukee Brewers at Fenway Park. The offense is turning it on, Daisuke Matsuzaka earned his seventh win of the season against zero defeats (and a 2.15 ERA) and former fan favorite Gabe Kapler made a return to Fenway, a year after managing the Red Sox Single-A team.
Sunday, May 18:The Red Sox finished off a sweep of the Brewers, led by a homer barrage by David Ortiz (two homers), Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis. And this wasn’t the biggest story of the day.
In one of the best game sevens of recent memory in the NBA playoffs, the Boston Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals with an exciting 97-92 win over Cleveland. Paul Pierce had a coming out party, scoring 41 points and clinching the win with two late free throws. One bounced off the back of the rim, went straight up in the air and fell through the hoop, almost like magic.
Plus, Pierce went hoop-for-hoop with Cavs superstar Lebron James (45 points). The two stars put on a show worthy of a game seven, and had many fans making comparisons to Bird-‘Nique in the 80s.
Monday, May 19: This was supposed to be a day to take a deep breath for Boston fans. Kansas City was in town, and it was a cool and windy night, and most were looking forward to Tuesday night and the Pistons coming to the Garden. Jon Lester would have none of that.
While the wind definitely helped Lester – the Royals leadoff hitter crushed one of Lester’s first pitches to deep left, but the wind was blowing in, and the shot barely made the warning track, falling harmlessly into Manny Ramirez’s glove – it was his pitching that had people talking.
Throughout his nine-inning performance, especially from the third inning on, Lester kept the Royals off-balance with an array of curveballs and breaking pitches mixed in with his fastball that topped 97 miles-per-hour on the NESN radar gun.
As the innings came and went, one thing remained: a zero in the hit column for the Royals. And a buzz started circulating at Fenway, and ESPN starting updating viewers of Lester’s progress. After the eighth inning, the park was electric, and Lester was sailing. ESPN cut into its coverage of the Cubs-Astros to show Lester’s ninth inning.
He walked the leadoff guy, more probably because of nerves and the moment he was in than anything else. He got the next batter to hit a high chop to Mike Lowell at third, and followed that with a ground out to Youkilis at first. With two outs, the nation watching and the Fenway faithful on their feet, Lester finished off his no-hitter with a strikeout on a 96 mph fastball, turning an ordinary Monday night into a memorable one.
Looking ahead, there are some exciting days ahead for Boston fans. Tonight begins the Eastern Conference finals against hated rival Detroit, and prized pitching prospect Justin Masterson makes his second career start for the Red Sox.
On Wednesday, Bartolo Colon, the former Cy Young Award winner and 20-game winner, makes his Red Sox debut. The Pistons and Celtics play game two of their series on Thursday and continue with games three and four over the holiday weekend.
Just another exciting week in Boston sports history. And, amazingly, none of it includes any team from New York, which may show just how far Boston sports – and the Red Sox – have come.