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Where Do The Red Sox Stand In The Boston Sports Hierarchy?

The Sox end a disappointing season as the Patriots, Bruins, and Celtics gear up.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

As Boston hits the last day of 2023 where the sun will set after 7pm, so too is the sun setting on this Boston Red Sox squad. After a miserable double-header sweep, the club falls back into a last place tie with the team that’s beaten them twice in a day, the New York Yankees. A season that started with maybe a glimmer(?) of hope for some (yes, I know there are some who allege we’re the Bloominati and the season was doomed from the start), is going to end with a whimper. It’s a little sad not to feel phased by this feeling. The sky isn’t falling, it’s just a bad end to a disappointing season. I feel like if we said that any time in the 2000s, or when Theo was at the helm, the city would riot and things would change. The Red Sox were certainly the focus of Titletown, USA for a good while. Has that changed? Let’s look at the other Boston-based teams to see where they may have gone right where the Red Sox have gone wrong.

New England Patriots

Let’s take this in order of who’s playing next. The Patriots—with Tom Brady—were always the dominant force of Sundays/Mondays/Thursdays. Luckily, the football season doesn’t overlap too much with baseball season. Even post-Brady, the Patriots are doing some of the right things to keep themselves afloat. Defense, a word that sends chills down my spine as a Red Sox fan, is honestly one of the stalwarts of the Patriots year in and year out. Competently if unofficially led by former linebacker Jerod Mayo, the likes of Matthew Judon, the McCourty twins, Josh Uche, Kyle Dugger, Jaylen Mills, etc. keep the line moving in shutting down opposing teams. The offense, while like the Red Sox without a power threat, is helmed by a promising talent in Mac Jones who I dare say looked a lot more comfortable in three quarters of the first game of the season than any point last year. That should spell some optimism for Patriots fans. Last year was as big an embarrasment as the Sox’s season as a whole. This season looks different in Foxborough in just one game alone. The Pats are no longer a punching bag the Sox can deflect to.

Boston Bruins

Oh the woes of being a Bruins fan right now. Losing two of your most franchise-altering centers in Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci is as big a gut punch as losing Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts has been. Still, there’s reason for optimism on Causeway Street.

David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy—the cores of the future—are locked up for a very, very long time. Brad Marchand is still around, and pieces like Hampus Lindholm, Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk, Jake DeBrusk and Pavel Zacha are going to be competent game in and game out. It must feel nice to have a roster you can rely on, rather than the piecemeal operation that’s been the 2023 Red Sox. Even the Bruins equivalent of a rotation in Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, a goaltending duo that was the best in the NHL last season, is staying intact for at least one more season. It’s a better rotation than (almost) every starter in the Red Sox arsenal this season. Jeremy Swayman has the same promise of a future no. 1 as Brayan Bello.

Will the Bruins be as good as their record-setting 2022-23 campaign? No, and even if Bergeron and Krejci came back, the answer is the same. That’s not to say they’re going to be bad outright. They have glaring questions, just like the Red Sox. Their championship window is likely closed, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be good hockey to watch. One more thing: they know how to improve their team. Unlike the baseball team, their GM swings for the fences. Maybe Don Sweeney will, maybe Don Sweeney won’t. Chaim Bloom has yet to do so (of his own free will, sorry Mookie) yet.

Boston Celtics

Honestly, this is the brightest group of the bunch. A Big Three of Jason Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the addition of Kristaps Porzingis is tremendous, and will keep every NBA team on its toes. Does it make me nervous to have two injury-prone bigs in Porzingis and Robert Williams III? Abso-freaking-lutely. Does not having Grant Williams or Marcus Smart make the roster feel a little funny, especially since Smart has been such a heartbeat player for the C’s? Yeah, at least to me it does. It’s Derrick White’s time to shine off the bench, the same for depth guys like Payton Pritchard, the elder statesman in Al Horford, and the guy who’s been oddly trade bait all summer in Malcolm Brogdon.

They have a coach in Joe Mazzulla who’s created a strong locker room presence and should continue to evolve his style of play in his second season as the top dog on the bench. Wizard Brad Stevens will continue to pull the strings better than most NBA front offices. This team has the best shot for a title of any team now, and if you’re not watching, you probably should start.

Now that the primer has been dished out, how do you rank these teams in terms of watchability and future? Here’s where I lie:

  1. Celtics
  2. Bruins
  3. Patriots
  4. Red Sox

The Celtics have earned the right to be the apple of the city’s eye. They play great ball, they have all-star talent, they expect success and generally deliver. It’s a no-brainer that they have the best present and the best future.

The Bruins and Patriots really are 2a and 2b. The Bruins pip the Patriots for me because the questions they have to answer are slightly easier to address and in a season where they’ll be celebrating their centennial, they’ll be playing with less pressure and we’ll get to see what their second-year head coach in Jim Montgomery is made of. How they’ll build for the future for a fanbase who also rabidly demands success? That we’ll have to wait and see.

The Patriots have a lot to prove bringing Bill O’Brien back, but if Week 1 is any indicator, they’ll be a good watch this season. It’s down the road that makes me think harder. How much longer is Bill Belichick the head coach? Does he cede being the defacto GM to stay on the sideline longer or does he pull a Brad Stevens and go upstairs to build a roster for someone like Jerod Mayo to lead into the future?

Look at all the redeeming factors those teams have compared to the Red Sox. There are some bright stars for sure in Brayan Bello, Triston Casas, Justin Turner, and prosepcts to watch out for in Ceddanne Rafaela, Wilyer Abreu and Enmanuel Valdez, but by and large, I’m a really anxious Red Sox fan for now and for the future. Is Chaim Bloom long for the front office? With David Stearns taking control with the Mets, does that make ownership more or less complacent with another playoff-less season? How do they improve their pitching? Like every other team, this fanbase demands success and right now, there’s not only no clear path towards it (yes, we all know this team’s weak spots), but we’re not sure who’s going to be around to try to get them there.

Sports is cyclical, it’s true. Fifteen years ago, the Red Sox were the talk of the town, the Celtics were building towards a future, the Patriots...ok were still the Patriots, but the Bruins were coming off of two of its worst seasons with not much direction. We just happened to be at the point where the Red Sox are on the bottom of the heap. Hopefully that changes, and soon.