The key moment probably came when Larry Bird took a bounce pass from Roger Clemens, put a head fake on Patrick Roy and jammed over Jose Canseco. Then again, Lee Smith's strikeout of Patrick Ewing in the ninth was also very important. Then again, would any of that have mattered if Ray Bourque hadn't made that beautiful clearing pass to Robert Parish for the 30-foot slap shot past Mark McGwire? Hard to say.
Hard to say anything after this dizzy weekend at the end of April in the city of Boston. "Where do you go?" asked Don Skwar, executive sports editor of The Boston Globe, on Sunday morning. "Where do you turn first? You say you'd pay most attention to the team that's winning, but what do you do if they're all winning?"
For three days all the rings in the local athletic circus were occupied. Who was on first, What was at point guard and I Don't Know was on the power play, and everyone seemed to be successful. The Bruins won the Adams Division finals, four games to one, with a 3-1 victory over the accursed Montreal Canadiens, last Friday night at Boston Garden. The Celtics jumped to a 2-0 playoff lead over the equally accursed New York Knicks with a record-setting 157-128 blowout at the Garden 14 hours later. The Red Sox, in the meantime, hammered out a two-games-to-one series win over the world champion Oakland Athletics before three frenzied crowds at Fenway Park.
Life in Bean Town seemed to be lived with a transistor radio in every pocket and a plug in every ear. Applause erupted at the strangest times in the strangest places. What just happened? Basketball crowds cheered baseball scores on the Garden message board. Baseball fans cheered hockey goals in every corner of Fenway. Around and around it went.
"I was scared at first," said second baseman Marty Barrett about a roar that had intruded during a quiet moment early in the Red Sox's 7-6 win over the A's Friday night. "I heard this sound. I wondered what could have happened. Then I knew. Oh, yes. The Bruins must have scored. I was ready for it the rest of the night."
There have been other grand spring weekends in Boston sports history-wheels turning everywhere, the hockey and basketball teams each on a playoff march while the residents at Fenway begin their long season—but this one seemed particularly blessed. The Bruins, at the beginning of the season, were expected to finish behind the Canadiens. The Celtics at the same stage were surely too old to compete with the emerging Knicks. The armless, harmless Red Sox? Against the mighty A's? Please.
But all of this negativism somehow got turned upside down. Everyone was winning again. "You think about it, how lucky we've been in this city," said Bruin general manager Harry Sinden. "People here say a lot of bad things about the Red Sox, just crucify them, but they're always involved in a pennant race. Or at least most of the time. They've given me great entertainment for 20 years. The Celtics—how many down years have they had? And us. We lose Bobby Orr and we have Brad Park for seven or eight years. We lose Brad and along comes Raymond Bourque. We've all been lucky."
The Bruins were at the top of the marquee last week. They had missed a chance on Wednesday night at the Montreal Forum to sweep the Canadiens, their perpetual nemeses, for the first time in, oh, 61 years. A loss on Friday in Game 5 would return the series to Montreal and bring back visions of Rocket Richard and Jean Beliveau lacing their skates to inflict further indignities. Not only had the Bruins lost on Wednesday, but they also had seemed to lose their composure.
"[Bruin coach] Mike Milbury called me up after that one," said Red Sox manager Joe Morgan. "I don't know why. We talk a little bit now and then. He asked me how I seem to keep so cool during games. I told him not to believe the pictures he sees on his television."
Around and around. On Friday night the Bruins took a 1-0 lead, lost the lead and then went ahead on defenseman Glen Wesley's rebound slapper with 1:13 remaining. An empty-net goal finished the game at 3-1. The celebrations began. The Bruins looked ahead to their conference final against the Washington Capitals. Morgan called Milbury this time.