Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Greatest American Holiday

In my humble opinion, Thanksgiving is the best holiday on the calendar. No religion, no hassles, no stressing about which gifts to get, no returning gifts to the store. You just have to show up to eat, drink, watch some football, have some more pie, and then take a nap. Those Pilgrims were definitely onto something.

Anyway, we have plenty to give thanks for this holiday. Boston has re-claimed its position as the best sports city in the country. Athletes (hello, Mike Lowell) are turning down more lucrative offers elsewhere to stay in this environment. Our long-suffering, beloved baseball team has won two championships in four years. The Patriots are destroying everything in their path, and are very much on course to go undefeated, set all sorts of records, and raise another Lombardi in the desert in February. Hell, even the Celtics have become a hot ticket, thanks to the arrivals of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. While the mid-1980's was an awesome time around here for sports, this particular period may take the cake. We are on a serious roll, and it shows no signs of letting up. If only the Bruins could find a new owner.

So let's start there. I'd like to give thanks first and foremost to a guy that I believe transformed this city by dint of what he's done with his own team. Say what you want about Pats owner Bob Kraft, but he has set the example around here and the other teams are following suit. Remember how close the Patriots came to actually leaving Massachusetts? If James Busch Orthwein and Stan Kroenke had gotten their way, the course of history would have been dramatically altered. Instead, Bob Kraft came to the rescue, he hired a name coach in Bill Parcells, and they took a stud QB with the first pick of the 1993 NFL Draft in Drew Bledsoe. You can make the argument that these three guys are the most influential figures in Pats' history. So I hereby give thanks to Krafty, Tuna, and Drew.

You can even argue that Kraft has had a major influence on what the Sox have been able to do in the last few years. The Henry/Werner ownership team reached out to the Patriots early in the process, eager to soak up the secrets of success. The results are not coincidental. The Red Sox have made themselves into a first-class destination for players. They know ownership will do everything in its power to win, they know they'll be well taken care of beyond dollars, and they get to play in front of the most passionate fans in sports.

Now the Celtics are catching the "winning" bug, thanks in large part to the fact that Danny Ainge finally decided to blow up the win-by-building philosophy. They've accomplished something huge in a short time - they've got people around here interested and engaged, after only 10 games.

So while the rest of the country hates us - especially the new scorched earth policy of the Patriots - we can take solace in knowing that this is what it was like back in the 50's and 60's, when the Celtics won every year, and back in the mid-80's, when we truly were a four-sport town. Times are good here in Boston. We know it, we appreciate and respect it, and we give thanks for it.

Happy turkey to all.

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