The ninth annual New England Sports Survey, conducted by Sudbury-based Channel Media & Market Research, was released Monday.
The intent of the survey is to gauge fans' opinions of notable issues and personalities with the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Revolution, as well as the local sports media scene. As usual, the results are mostly logical, but with a few surprises and bewilderments mixed in.
Here are a few of what I thought were the more notable or curious takeaways from the survey, which was generated by an e-mail poll of 15,898 New England sports fans from Nov. 6-15.
Dynastic duo: I’ll kick this off with this item since it’s probably the most debated topic in Boston sports right now: Who was most responsible for the Patriots dynasty? I give the surveyors credit for allowing for multiple options rather than doing the either/or thing between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady that can be so tempting but leaves all nuance out of the conversation. Thirty-seven percent said Belichick and Brady, 27 percent said Belichick, Brady, and Robert Kraft, 20 percent said Belichick, and 15 percent said Brady. I suspect those last two numbers would look a lot different if Belichick had left and Brady stayed.
Standing pat: Despite the departure of Brady, the Patriots remained the favorite team in the region, earning 45 percent of the vote. They have finished first in this category in every year of the survey, peaking at 51 percent in 2017. The Red Sox were second in the poll (22 percent), which is about 21 percent higher than I would have expected. The Celtics (16 percent) and Bruins (15 percent) were close as usual. However, when the word was changed from “favorite” to “admired,” the Patriots rose to 55 percent, while the Red Sox crashed to 4 percent. It’s almost like they traded a generational superstar or something.
Owning up: I’m not sure if this is a contradiction or just proof of a complicated situation with the departure of Brady, but Belichick got the highest percentage of the vote (46 percent) on a question asking which coaches/managers do you admire most for the way they coach/manage their team. But 85 percent of respondents said the Patriots have changed for the worse in the past year. I think this is the correct way to look at it on all fronts. It is notable that for the first time in the nine years of the poll, Kraft was not the top answer to the question regarding which team’s ownership has done the best job over the past year. Wyc Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca, and the Celtics' ownership team was first at 42 percent, up from just 6 percent last year. Kraft fell from 67 percent last year to 23 percent this year.
Next aboard the duck boats: You’d never know it from the “Trader Danny has to do something!” sports radio caterwaulers that couldn’t have picked Jrue Holiday out in the Pelicans team photo, but the Celtics checked in first (46 percent) when respondents were asked which team has the best chance to win a championship soon. The Patriots fell from 56 percent last year (and a high of 83 percent in 2017) to just 4 percent this year. I bet that number would have risen significantly if the poll were taken after Sunday night’s win over the Ravens.
Tampa Tom: The 1-2 answers to the worst thing that happened in Boston sports this year were Tom Brady leaving (38 percent) and Mookie Betts getting traded to the Dodgers (28 percent). Seven percent said it was Brady turning into “a diva/prima donna/too good for us,'' which is just the perfect Boston answer. “You think you’re too good for us now, Tommy? Huh? Do ya? Livin’ at Jeter’s place with jet skis and stuff? You were nevah one of us anyway! I never saw you at the Red Wing Diner once, even before you started living off nut grass and other assorted weeds!”
Bauer power: The player Red Sox fans would most like to see the team acquire is free agent NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer (30 percent). Makes sense for those of us who never adjusted to the idea of Nate Eovaldi, ace. Who knows, it might even be realistic. Last year, the player that finished first in this survey was current Braves reliever Shane Greene, who must have been a rumored name at the trade deadline or something. Because you were wondering, Betts checked in at 6 percent. You’d think Mike Trout would be in here somewhere. I’ve heard he’s good. As for the most coveted player in the other sports: Patrick Mahomes (Patriots), Connor McDavid (Bruins), Cristiano Ronaldo (Revolution), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Celtics). I’d take Kelly Olynyk over all of those guys.
Other scattered revelations: There was quite a divide on the decision to bring back Alex Cora as a manager, which jibes with the varied reactions I’ve heard from fans. Twenty-five percent said it as an excellent decision, while 23 percent graded it as poor . . . Xander Bogaerts checked in as the most admired Red Sox player, which should come as no surprise. But the second-place finisher, Jackie Bradley Jr. (23 percent), was a bit of surprise given how maddening he can be as a hitter. I hope the Sox bring him back (he’s a free agent). Maybe I’m not in the minority on that after all . . . Patrice Bergeron rated as the most admired Bruins (28 percent). He’s such an obvious choice that the answers might be more interesting if he were disqualified from the question . . . Jayson Tatum was the Celtic most admired for what they bring to the team (30 percent). Marcus Smart, who was third with 15 percent, would have gotten the vote here, but I understand some of you may think he shoots too much . . . Forty percent rated the Patriots decision not to bring back Brady as poor. I’m not sure I want to meet the 5 percent that rated it as excellent.
Media notes: NESN’s Dennis Eckersley was the most popular television play-by-play voice or color analyst (23 percent), with NBC Sports Boston Celtics voice Mike Gorman coming in second (22 percent). One of these years they’re going to listen to me and split this up into two categories. Scott Zolak ran away with the radio category (29 percent) . . . Michael Felger finished first in favorite TV personality (25 percent), radio personality (20 percent), sports radio show (with co-host Tony Massarotti, 26 percent), and TV sports show (the NBC Sports Boston simulcast, 23 percent) . . . Ch. 4′s Dan Roche won favorite local TV sports reporter (17 percent), Tom E. Curran’s Patriots Talk was the favorite podcast (18 percent), and yours truly was named favorite sports writer (16 percent). I’ll understand if you consider that reason enough to disregard all of this.