’Tis the season for giving, the time to find the perfect gifts for friends and family. Our local sports teams are practically family. You feel an emotional bond to them. You pridefully bask in their accomplishments. Sometimes you don’t understand what in the world they’re thinking or why you support them. They elicit frustration, joy, and nostalgia.
So, I thought it would be fitting to give back to the teams that present us with so much to think, talk, write, blog, and tweet about. After doing some Christmas shopping, here is what I’m giving to Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Revolution.
Patriots — What do you get the team that has it all and knows it all? A suit of armor for Rob Gronkowski, a Clete Blakeman NFL referee action figure, a crucial late-game defensive stop gift card? All nice ideas, but let’s give the Patriots the one thing they really need, a first-round bye.
It’s hard to envision a team that has been ravaged by injuries and reduced to relying on razor-thin rallies winning three playoff games — two likely on the road — to reach the promised land of the swampland of New Jersey for Super Bowl XLVIII. That’s why Sunday’s game at Baltimore is a crucial crucible for the 10-4 Patriots.
An 11-5 Patriots team could slip to the fourth seed. It would lose tiebreakers to Cincinnati, which beat New England this season, or Indianapolis, which would go ahead by virtue of a better conference record.
Stocking stuffer: An impact wide receiver for overworked quarterback Tom Brady.
Red Sox — Christmas came early for the Red Sox. Anything and everything that could have gone wrong on the way to becoming World Series winners . . . didn’t. Even having their two presumptive closers lost to season-ending arm injuries turned out to be a blessing, paving the way for the strike-throwing, high-fiving phenomenon known as Koji Uehara.
What do you get the team that won it all? The one big-ticket item they really want, Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
Righthanded power has become one of the rarest commodities in the game. (As GammonsDaily.com pointed out, only eight righthanders hit 30 home runs last season.) The 24-year-old Stanton has power that would have people seeking immediate shelter on Lansdowne Street. He is a young Dave Winfield with more pop.
It’s become anathema to even suggest the Red Sox tinker with their World Series winner. But Stanton’s power potential would be worth deposing the Daniel Nava-Jonny Gomes outfield platoon and sacrificing a few prospects we’re already commissioning Cooperstown plaques for.
Stocking stuffer: The return of Stephen Drew. The fascination continues.
Celtics — Depending on how you look at it, the Celtics have already gotten one gift — the cover-your-eyes state of the Eastern Conference, an abyss of bad basketball. I would say that’s more like a lump of coal. My gift for the Celtics is what president of basketball operations Danny Ainge really wants: a 2014 lottery pick.
This will be the most loaded NBA draft since the 2003 pick-a-palooza that produced LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. The Celtics can’t miss out on the 2014 bounty in the name of Jordan Crawford, born-again point guard.
Spare me the myth of building from the middle, a la the Indiana Pacers. Indiana had five straight losing seasons, missing the playoffs in four straight. They bottomed out at 32-50 in 2010 and drafted Paul George with the No. 10 pick. George has become a top-10 NBA player. Having that lottery pick for George is the entire reason the Pacers are contenders.
Stocking stuffer: A healthy Rajon Rondo. The inimitable point guard is a big part of any Celtics’ retooling plan.
Bruins — The Spoked-Bs are the resident Scrooges of the NHL. They believe in pucks parsimony, routinely ranking among the best defensive clubs in the NHL. Heading into Saturday night’s with the Buffalo Sabres, the lowest-scoring team in the NHL, the Bruins were allowing the second-fewest goals per game in the league.
Under coach Claude Julien, the Bruins don’t like to give anything up, except goal scorers such as Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin. So, the gift for the Bruins is a top-six forward. Has anyone noticed that elder skatesman Jaromir Jagr had 12 goals for the New Jersey Devils entering Saturday?
Given the concern about Loui Eriksson’s concussions, the Bruins look a skilled forward short of lifting Lord Stanley’s chalice.
Stocking stuffer: Brad Marchand, batteries included. The little guy is a difference-maker when he’s on his game.
Revolution — The Revolution ask for the same thing every year and get disappointed.
They are one of just three teams in the 19-team Major League Soccer that either don’t play in a soccer-specific stadium, have one under construction, or have a proposal for one awaiting local government approval. The other two are the Seattle Sounders, who play in CenturyLink Field, an NFL stadium constructed for the Seattle Seahawks, and the Vancouver Whitecaps, who play in BC Place, a renovated, retractable-roof Canadian Football League venue.
Seattle set the MLS attendance record this year, drawing 44,038 fans per game. Vancouver ranked fifth, drawing 20,097 fans per game. The Revolution’s attendance at Gillette Stadium was up 6 percent, according to MLS, but New England ranked 16th at 14,844 per game, despite making the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
The Revolution need a soccer-specific stadium in an urban setting with access to public transportation.
“There are a few sites that we’re still looking at and trying to work with those cities and towns and sort out what is the best solution,” said Revolution president Brian Bilello. “It’s something we’re committed to and want to do very soon.”
Stocking stuffer: A striker to pair with 18-year-old sensation Diego Fagundez now that Juan Agudelo is likely Europe-bound.