For sports fans, it doesn't get better than Boston this time of year
Monday is Patriots Day: state holiday, Boston Marathon and morning baseball
Both the Celtics and Bruins are in the playoffs and the Pats are mulling draft picks
Even though Red Sox are disappointing 4-9, Fenway is filled every night
Welcome to my town, Boston, Massachusetts. It's quite simply the best sports city in the United States. Especially this week.
Care to argue?
Bring it on.
Monday is Patriot's Day in Greater Boston. Oddly enough, the New England Patriots are the only Hub team that's out of season.
Patriot's Day commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord and the first shot fired in the Revolutionary War. Patriot's Day is a legal holiday in Maine and Massachusetts, falling annually on the third Monday in April. It's one of the great days of every spring in Boston, particularly when the Bruins and Celtics are in the playoffs.
Since 1897, Patriot's Day has been celebrated with the running of the Boston Marathon. The Red Sox have been playing on Marathon Monday since 1902 when 35-year-old Cy Young hurled the Sox to a 7-6 victory at the old Huntington Avenue Grounds. Since 1968, the Sox have served baseball breakfast at Fenway on Marathon Monday with games starting at 11:05 a.m. It is the only regularly-scheduled morning start on the big league calendar.
At 10 a.m. Monday the first of approximately 30,000 runners (counting the unofficial entries) left Hopkinton bound for the Back Bay of Boston where they hoped to cross the finish line on Boyleston Street. The 114th running of the Boston Marathon featured almost 10,000 international entrants from more than 70 countries. Hundreds of thousands of spectators lined the 26.2 mile course. The runners heard cheers from the co-eds at Wellesley College and ran up Heartbreak Hill after the 90 degree right turn at the fire station in Newton.
While the thin people ran toward downtown Boston, more than 37,000 filled Fenway Park for the 557th consecutive sellout. All the runners were still on the course when John Lackey threw the first pitch long before noon. Citizens of Red Sox Nation were wondering if the staggering Sox (4-9, 1-6 at Fenway) might be hungover from the three-game beat down sustained over the weekend at the hands of the rabble-rousing Tampa Rays.
The Sox and Rays were still on the Fenway lawn when the marathon leaders passed through Kenmore Square. Fans sitting atop the Green Monster could turn their heads to see if there were any Americans near the front of the pack. Kenyans and Ethiopians have dominated the Boston course in recent years. The Rays led 6-0 in the bottom of the third when Kenyan Robert Cheruiyot crossed the finish line in a Boston-record time of 2:05:50. Some of the erstwhile Fenway Faithful could be seen running out of ballyard, joining the marathoners to escape the carnage at the ballpark as the Rays completed a four-game sweep with an 8-2 rout.
Monday night on Causeway Street the Bruins got ready to play the Buffalo Sabres in Game 3 of their first-round NHL playoff series. The goal-challenged B's erupted for five scores in a series-squaring, 5-3 win at Buffalo on Saturday afternoon. The Bruins haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1972, back in the days when the Sox were plagued by the Curse of the Bambino and Americans still won the Marathon.
The team that's brought the most glory to Boston, the Celtics, did not play Monday, but the Green Team practiced at their Waltham health club in preparation for Tuesday night's Game 2 at the Garden against the Miami Heat. The Celtics beat the Heat in Game 1 Saturday night, but have been scorned for much of this year because of their chronic underachievement. Two years removed from their 17th World Championship, the Celtics look like they're bound for a second-round showdown with the Cleveland Cavaliers, a.k.a. the best team in basketball. The Celtics-Heat series took on some additional juice when it was announced that Kevin Garnett would be suspended for Game 2 as punishment for tossing an elbow in a fracas at the end of Game 1.
After the Celtics play Tuesday, the famed Boston Garden bull gang will convert the arena from parquet to ice to get ready for the Bruins and Sabres in Game 4 Wednesday night.
Thursday, the Garden will be dark as the B's and C's hit the road, but New Englanders will turn their eyes toward Foxborough where Patriots coach Bill Belichick will attempt to bolster his roster with the 22nd pick in the NFL draft. Meanwhile, the sagging Sox will attempt to get back on track against the Texas Rangers, then the Baltimore Orioles. No matter how bad the weather gets, Fenway will be filled every night.
Truly, sports fans are blessed here in the Hub of the Universe.
We've got shots heard round the world, every day.
Dan Shaughnessy is a columnist for The Boston Globe. Read more of his columns here.