2020 is finally over, thank God. Those 12 months produced a countless number of tears, fears, and jeers throughout our country. There are simply too many instances to list here. And while sports is not the most important frustration of 2020, Boston experienced the worst calendar year from the sports teams in 2 decades.
Let’s go over 2020 for Boston’s teams month by month.
In the first month of 2020, Tom Brady and the Patriots lost a Wild Card game to Ryan Tannehill and the Tennessee Titans. Old friends Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler, and Mike Vrabel got the better of Bill Belichick at Gillette.
Brady’s last pass of the game was a pick 6 by former teammate Ryan. It turned out to be the final play of Brady’s legendary career in New England. It was the first time Brady and Belichick lost a home playoff game since Baltimore bested them in the 2012 AFC Championship Game.
Right before the start of spring training, the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The homegrown, charismatic, uber-talented 27-year-old was shipped off to LA for a package of players.
Betts was the best player the organization had developed since Carl Yastrzemski. He had won an MVP and a World Series in 2018. Betts was going to be the cornerstone of the franchise for a decade. He was a hall of fame talent that was a thrill to watch play.
The two sides were far off on a contract extension, so the Sox flipped him for cheaper players under contract control. Not the easiest pill for Boston fans to swallow.
The Bruins and Celtics both had their seasons suspended due to the COVID Pandemic. The Bruins were an absolute wagon, as they were the only team in the league with 100 points at the time of the stoppage. The Celtics were 3rd in the East and looking like they could reach the Finals for the first time since 2010.
2020 had other plans. There were real concerns that both leagues would not re-start their campaigns when the shutdown occurred.
Something else happened that month. It was not fun. No, not at all.
Tom Brady signed with the freaking Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tom Brady. The guy that was drafted in the 6th round in 2000, when Boston had not won a title since Larry Bird and the Celtics in 1986. In his 20 years in New England, the city would witness 12 championship parades.
He was always a consistent factor in New England. While the Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins would all win at least 1 championship in this time frame, they all dealt with hard times.
With Brady taking the snaps in New England, he guaranteed a winning season. From 2001 through 2019, Brady and the Patriots played in the AFC Championship game 13 times.
He is the greatest athlete in Boston history. Brady played longer than Orr, Russell, and Bird. He won more than Williams, Yaz, and Bourque. Even in an era where Boston fans saw phenomenal players; Ortiz, Chara, Pierce, and countless others, Brady was always the man.
It was a sad day when he left Boston for Tampa Bay. He gave more to the region than anyone ever could have imagined. It is hard to envision any Boston athlete ever pole-vaulting ahead of Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr.
For the first time since 1896, the Boston Marathon was not run. Patriots Day marks the unofficial start of Spring for Massachusetts. Boylston Street is packed with people cheering on strangers as they pass the finish line next to the Boston Public Library.
Not to mention, the Red Sox are playing at 11 am. The Bruins and Celtics are usually getting ready for the playoffs, if not already in a series.
That day holds even more importance after the 2013 bombing at the finish line. Patriots Day has become a date to honor the memories of those killed by the Tsarnaev brothers; Martin Richard, Lu Lingzi, Krystle Campbell, and Sean Collier.
The third Monday of April is usually a giant celebration of everything we love about Boston. In 2020, the silence throughout the streets that day was deafening.
May/ June, 2020
Celtics playoff games? Nope. Bruins postseason games? Not right now. Red Sox regular season games? Out of luck.
We were left with a lot of nights wishing life could get back to normal.
After months of baseball players and owners squabbling over revenue and contracts, the MLB season officially began.
Betts and the Dodgers dominated while the Red Sox become unwatchable a week into their season.
The NBA and Celtics started back up in the Orlando bubble.
The NHL and Bruins were back in Toronto and Edmonton bubbles.
Boston lost their 3 games in the Round Robin, becoming the first team in NHL history to win the President’s Trophy and not be the number 1 seed in the playoffs.
After beating Carolina, the Bruins were outclassed by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round. It would be the last playoff series Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara would partake in wearing black and gold.
The Patriots started their season without Tom Brady under center. After Cam Newton had to sit out a game due to COVID, the Patriots had to travel to Kansas City the day of their game. It was not pretty. The team never truly recovered after that loss.
Not to mention, the Celtics dropped a winnable series to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. It was the 9th straight season Boston would not partake in the NBA Finals.
Boston University hockey legend and philanthropist Travis Roy died. Roy was an inspiration to countless people, and he never stopped making other’s life’s better, even after his heart-breaking accident.
Also, Torey Krug signed with the St. Louis Blues. Krug gave so much to the franchise after signing as an undrafted free agent. He was one of the most dynamic offensive defensemen in the league while wearing the Spoked B.
Other than Tuukka Rask, he was the one who was impacted by the 2019 game 7 loss the hardest. He was in Boston for a myriad of sports titles, skated twice in the Stanley Cup Finals, but he never raised Lord Stanley. Krug was one of the best Boston athletes to not win a title this century.
(While this does not have anything to do with Boston sports, iconic musician Eddie Van Halen also died that month.)
Unfortunately, Boston Celtics icon Tommy Heinsohn died this month, as well. Heinsohn was a beloved figure in Boston, having been a part of the Celtics organization for all 17 championship banners. He was Celtics basketball. It is impossible a person will ever be as connected to a sports franchise again.
Also, it becomes painfully clear the Patriots are not good enough to make the playoffs.
For the first since 2008, the Patriots were not going to the playoffs. The Newton experiment did not work out. The offense spurted in the red zone and did not have nearly enough firepower to compete.
Not to mention, the numerous absences from both sides of the ball, from either free-agent departures or COVID opt. outs severely weakened the team. Brady was going to the playoffs in Tampa Bay, while Belichick was under .500 for the first time since 2000. Make of that what you will.
And just before we got out of this Godforsaken year, Chara signed a 1 year deal with the Washington Capitals for $795,000. Boston’s captain since 2007 left for less than a million dollars.
From an emotional standpoint, this was worst than Brady or Betts leaving. In those cases, both the players and organizations were ready to move on. Chara wanted to stay, but the Bruins valued Kevan Miller higher than their captain.
It was inexcusable. After everything he had done for Boston and the Bruins, Chara deserved to leave on his terms. For less than a million dollars, he could not help the Bruins win hockey games? Ridiculous. Not to mention his presence in the locker room cannot be replaced.
That is exactly how 2020 should have ended.
It was fun while it lasted
For the first time since 2015, and only for the second time since 2012, none of the 4 teams made it to the championship round. The greatest Boston athlete of all time, a homegrown superstar, and a grizzled captain were gone.
For 20 years, Boston was Title Town. The city watched 12 championship runs, 18 trips to the finals, multiple Hall Of Famers in each sport, and enough moments a fan from another city would kill to see in one lifetime, let alone in a generation.
It appears Boston’s reign of dominance has ended. That is not to say, however, that all hope is lost and we are back to ‘Loserville‘. Boston will be able to still enjoy the play of decent or even really good teams. But right now, we are no longer the gold standard for American sports.
Don’t get comfortable
But there is one thing we can take solace in. We know we will be back. It might take a year, or even a decade until Boston raises another banner. And maybe we will never again see all 4 teams win a title in a 7-year span.
As much as 2020 sucked, it has not been that bad for Boston in quite a while. For other cities, 2020 would have been a fine year.
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones