Tuning back in for the Celtics (and Isaiah Thomas)

Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart on the court for the Boston Celtics, 2017.

Thomas and Smart, back in the day (a.k.a., three seasons ago). Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons

I wonder what my 12-year-old self would think: endless channels, a nice TV in the living room with all the sports I could reasonably want available, and yet I’m opting for a responsible bedtime over watching overtime more often than not. I suppose I’d just have to tell him that 37 is fine, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Nice TV, though.

But one thing helping to break out of this funk lately is the Boston Celtics. A 7-1 start to the season, looking to make it 8-1, and matching up with Isaiah Thomas now leading the Washington Wizards certainly seems worth plopping myself down on the couch to take in all four quarters in mostly rapt attention.

The timing was excellent. It was a collision of two legitimately enjoyable eras of basketball: Thomas’ gang of overachievers and the current group, led (in marketing at least, and likely much more) by Kemba Walker but much closer in spirit to the united squad that upended so much of the superstar-based conversation that bogs down so much in the NBA. While the chronic weirdness and mystery that surrounds all things Kyrie Irving was exhausting, the biggest disappointment in last season was Irving’s indecision plunging the Celtics into the kind of drama that follows, say, LeBron James anytime he’s within three years of a new contract. That brand of is-he-staying-or-leaving nonsense overshadows the actual games, sinks teams and makes the game being played a drag. Continue reading

Even with the rain, it’s just a game

Photo taken by Brock Holt during Wednesday night's rain delay

Living within 4.3 miles of Fenway Park, as the crow flies, it shouldn’t be quite such an ordeal getting to a game.

I could walk for about an hour and a half, which isn’t the worst option when the humidity isn’t at its current 114 percent level, where it’s been for the past six weeks. There’s the T, and when it’s actually running, the Red Line to the Green Line should take about 30 minutes. But the red line doesn’t really run these days, and the aforementioned humidity turns Park Street into a sweltering torture chamber. Then there’s driving, which is a more horrible option as each day passes.

But truth be told, these are minor inconveniences. If I was invested and careful with money, I could go see the Red Sox much more often than I do. And with the specter of turning that four mile distance into about 20 looming in the coming weeks, it seemed right to head back out to a game.

I did, and they lost 6-2 to the Kansas City Royals. That’s the least important part of this, though. Continue reading

We now go live to Brock Holt…

Such is the life of casual baseball viewing: On Thursday night I was reading a book at my desk, feet propped up, with the Red Sox in my peripheral vision and serving as background noise. They were in the early stages of a 19-3 beat down of the Yankees to start a four-game series that could determine whether the end of this summer has the team in the pennant race or another eight weeks of pleasant background noise. It’s not an exaggeration to say that, after four World Series wins in 14 years, either will be fine with me.

Anyway. As I was getting more and more engrossed in Ryan H. Walsh’s Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 and all the nooks and crannies of Boston as a city in transition, I was snapped 51 years back into the present thanks to some ambient mics:

“OH GODDAMN IT!” Continue reading

David Krejci is still chipping away

David Krejci, Upper Deck, 2015-16

There is hardly the space to shower the correct praise upon all the Bruins who deserve it.

For example: Tuukka Rask is playing at a god-level, to a point that the “what took so long” crowd has conveniently overlooked that he’s been an excellent goaltender in this league for a decade now. Patrice Bergeron is as solid and skilled a player as one could hope to be. Brad Marchand is a professional jerk in all the best ways. David Pastrnak is a kid at heart who also happens to be a total sniper. David Backes is chasing a dream. Zdeno Chara is defying time and age and remains absolutely terrifying.

And those are the primary storylines as the Bruins line up against the St. Louis Blues in an effort to get their name on the Stanley Cup for the seventh time. Missing in there is David Krejci, quietly leading his line, playing in every scenario and generally being the silent stalwart he’s been since earning his place in 2007.

For a group that cherishes its history and loves to fete its longtime players, Krejci doesn’t get the attention he likely deserves. But through this most recent playoff run, he’s done nothing to damage his place in history. Continue reading

One thousand games with Patrice Bergeron

I have a framed picture of Patrice Bergeron in my kitchen. I’ve had it up wherever I’ve lived since at least 2008, when it was given to me as a kind of joke present. It features Bergeron during his rookie season, in those horrid yellow pooh-stained jerseys the Boston Bruins insisted on wearing for more than a decade, and there’s a thought bubble over his head with an indelicate joke I’ll spare you for now — it’s funny within the context of my apartment but probably less so on the internet. Anyway.

That’s one of a few reminders of Bergeron I keep nearby. There’s a growing collection of hockey cards in the binder I maintain of all things Bruins, and pulled from that is his rookie card, currently sitting on my desk alongside cards of Bobby Orr and Roberto Clemente. And maybe most importantly, there’s a hockey card I keep in the console of my car’s dashboard that I’ll typically toss into my bag whenever I travel. It’s bleached out from the sun, and its plastic protective case is getting pretty scratched and dulled. But it carries on.

★ ★ ★

Tonight, when Boston steps onto the ice at the Garden and the lights blare and finally the linesman drops the puck at center ice to officially begin the 53rd game of the 2018-19 schedule, there’s a decent chance it’ll be Bergeron taking that drop. And if that’s the case, there’s an even better chance he’ll win that draw and the puck will fly back to Zdeno Chara or Charlie McAvoy to trigger a rush up the ice. Notably, it’ll be his 1,000th game, and how he got here is just as impressive as all the things he’s accomplished in that time. Continue reading